The Scarlet Coat (1955)

101 mins | Drama | 19 August 1955

Director:

John Sturges

Writer:

Karl Tunberg

Producer:

Nicholas Nayfack

Cinematographer:

Paul C. Vogel

Editor:

Ben Lewis

Production Designers:

Cedric Gibbons, Merrill Pye

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

The opening credits contain the following written prologue: "The American Secret Service came into being with the celebrated 'Case of Gustavus.' The identity of Gustavus--Benedict Arnold--has been known for generations, but the story of how he was unmasked has only been revealed in recent years. This is that story." The credits also include this acknowledgment: "We are deeply grateful to Sleepy Hollow Restorations for permitting us to photograph many scenes in their original locale at Philipse Castle in Legendary Sleepy Hollow." A voice-over narration at the beginning of the film explains that in 1780, the Revolutionary War was going badly for the colonists, with the fort at West Point the only obstacle to Britain's victory.
       At the end of the film, the narrator notes that Major John Andre was interred at Westminster Abbey, and is highly esteemed to this day. Andre (1751--1780) was appointed adjutant general of the British forces in America in 1778, and served as aide to the British commander, Sir Henry Clinton. Benedict Arnold (1741--1801) had earned a distinguished reputation on the battlefield when he became commander of the Philadelphia militia in 1778. The following year, Arnold entered into treasonable communications with Clinton, and as depicted in the film, in 1780 agreed to surrender the fort at West Point to the British in exchange for an army commission and money. When Andre was captured, Arnold joined the British army as an officer and military advisor. Arnold died in London.
       According to an Apr 1952 DV news item, M-G-M purchased an original story titled "Betrayal on the Hudson" by Hollister Noble and Sidney Harmon, to serve as the basis of Karl Tunberg's screenplay. The extent ... More Less

The opening credits contain the following written prologue: "The American Secret Service came into being with the celebrated 'Case of Gustavus.' The identity of Gustavus--Benedict Arnold--has been known for generations, but the story of how he was unmasked has only been revealed in recent years. This is that story." The credits also include this acknowledgment: "We are deeply grateful to Sleepy Hollow Restorations for permitting us to photograph many scenes in their original locale at Philipse Castle in Legendary Sleepy Hollow." A voice-over narration at the beginning of the film explains that in 1780, the Revolutionary War was going badly for the colonists, with the fort at West Point the only obstacle to Britain's victory.
       At the end of the film, the narrator notes that Major John Andre was interred at Westminster Abbey, and is highly esteemed to this day. Andre (1751--1780) was appointed adjutant general of the British forces in America in 1778, and served as aide to the British commander, Sir Henry Clinton. Benedict Arnold (1741--1801) had earned a distinguished reputation on the battlefield when he became commander of the Philadelphia militia in 1778. The following year, Arnold entered into treasonable communications with Clinton, and as depicted in the film, in 1780 agreed to surrender the fort at West Point to the British in exchange for an army commission and money. When Andre was captured, Arnold joined the British army as an officer and military advisor. Arnold died in London.
       According to an Apr 1952 DV news item, M-G-M purchased an original story titled "Betrayal on the Hudson" by Hollister Noble and Sidney Harmon, to serve as the basis of Karl Tunberg's screenplay. The extent of Noble and Harmon's contribution to the film has not been determined. According to a Jan 1953 HR news item, Stewart Granger was originally cast as "Major John Bolton," and Robert Pirosh was assigned to direct. An Aug 1953 HR news item names Robert Taylor as Michael Wilding's co-star. In Jun 1954, HR reported that filming would be postponed because of a lack of sound stage space and a shortage of stagehands, "due chiefly to the high activity in TV." A Nov 1954 HR news item adds Vince Perry to the cast, but his appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Portions of the film were shot on location in Tarrytown and along the Hudson River in New York. The Scarlet Coat was Wilding's last film for M-G-M. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
25 Jun 1955.
---
Daily Variety
11 Apr 1952.
---
Daily Variety
30 Jun 1954.
---
Daily Variety
20 Jun 55
p. 3.
Film Daily
23 Jun 55
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jan 53
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Aug 53
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Jun 54
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Oct 54
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Oct 54
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Oct 54
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Oct 54
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Nov 54
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Nov 54
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Nov 54
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Dec 54
p. 22.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jan 55
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jan 55
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Mar 55
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jun 55
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
21 Jun 1955.
---
Motion Picture Herald
25 Jun 1955.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
25 Jun 55
p. 489.
New York Times
31 Oct 1954.
---
New York Times
30 Jul 55
p. 14.
Variety
22 Jun 55
p. 6.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Ric Vallin
Richard Simmons
Don C. Harvey
Phyllis Coghlan
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
Wrt for the screen by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Hair styles
Makeup created by
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Fencing coach
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col consultant
DETAILS
Release Date:
19 August 1955
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 30 July 1955
Production Date:
25 October--mid December 1954
addl seq late January 1955
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
22 June 1955
Copyright Number:
LP5043
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Color
Eastman Color
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Duration(in mins):
101
Length(in feet):
9,032
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
17388
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In 1780, the British are gaining the upper hand in the American war of independence. The colonists' strongest defense is the fort at West Point, which is under command of General Benedict Arnold. One day, American intelligence officer Major John Bolton meets with his commanding officer, General Robert Howe, and produces a coded message removed from the body of a spy he shot the night before. The message, from someone named "Gustavus," contains top secret military information, and John concludes that Gustavus must be a highly placed person in the colonists' army. John then goes to a tavern and is searching the room of guest Sally Cameron, who is traveling to New York under a flag of truce, when she enters the room and shows him her signed military pass. John later notices a stranger entering the inn with a package for a man named Moody. Col. Winfield takes the package and says he will deliver it to Moody the following evening. John follows him to his room and takes the package at gunpoint, exposing Winfield as a British spy. During the ensuing scuffle, John shoots Winfield. After being arrested for shooting a superior officer, John is taken to Howe, who says that Winfield was a spy named Moody and shows him a letter from Gustavus found in the package. Howe proposes that John go undercover to try to learn Gustavus' identity, by escaping from prison and deserting to the British. Although it places him at great risk, John accepts the assignment. John goes to New York and calls on Dr. Jonathan Odell, in whose care the messages to Gustavus were sent, and inquires about James Osborne, to whom ... +


In 1780, the British are gaining the upper hand in the American war of independence. The colonists' strongest defense is the fort at West Point, which is under command of General Benedict Arnold. One day, American intelligence officer Major John Bolton meets with his commanding officer, General Robert Howe, and produces a coded message removed from the body of a spy he shot the night before. The message, from someone named "Gustavus," contains top secret military information, and John concludes that Gustavus must be a highly placed person in the colonists' army. John then goes to a tavern and is searching the room of guest Sally Cameron, who is traveling to New York under a flag of truce, when she enters the room and shows him her signed military pass. John later notices a stranger entering the inn with a package for a man named Moody. Col. Winfield takes the package and says he will deliver it to Moody the following evening. John follows him to his room and takes the package at gunpoint, exposing Winfield as a British spy. During the ensuing scuffle, John shoots Winfield. After being arrested for shooting a superior officer, John is taken to Howe, who says that Winfield was a spy named Moody and shows him a letter from Gustavus found in the package. Howe proposes that John go undercover to try to learn Gustavus' identity, by escaping from prison and deserting to the British. Although it places him at great risk, John accepts the assignment. John goes to New York and calls on Dr. Jonathan Odell, in whose care the messages to Gustavus were sent, and inquires about James Osborne, to whom Gustavus' letter was addressed. Odell denies knowing Osborne, but demands at knifepoint that John leave the letter. Their struggle is interrupted by a British major, John Andre, who is about to arrest John until he mentions Moody. Odell remains suspicious, but the idealistic, gentlemanly Andre likes John and accepts his offer to spy for the British. That evening, John attends a gathering at Andre's and encounters Sally, who is Andre's lover. John is given his first assignment, accompanying civilian spies Brown and Durkin while they sabotage a chain bridge. John kills the spies, then returns to New York and reports that they were intercepted by a guard boat. After John produces a false message that he claims to have gotten from an American courier, Andre concludes that Durkin was able to deliver his letter, and, at the Cameron family's country estate, the British prepare an attack. John gets Sally alone and gently suggests that she might have some sympathy with the rebel cause. Andre instructs John to go to New York to hand deliver a message to British military leader Sir Henry Clinton, but Sally privately warns him that the assignment is a test, and he will be stopped and searched, on Odell's orders. After burning all incriminating evidence, John kisses Sally, but although she admits to having feelings for him, she believes their relationship--and the revolution--have no future. When John leaves the Cameron home, he is intercepted by British soldiers, taken to Odell and searched. The search uncovers nothing but the message to Clinton, and John is released. The following morning, Andre asks Sally to marry him, but she demurs. Word then arrives of a rebel ambush, and Sally is stunned to hear that John has been arrested and is to be executed. Although jealous over Sally's obvious interest in John, Andre nonetheless vouches for his character and secures his release. That evening, Andre asks John to attend a meeting aboard a ship between Osborne and Gustavus. At the appointed time, however, Gustavus sends a man named Joshua Smith to request that the meeting be held elsewhere, and Andre sets off alone for his "rendezvous with history." John uses a lantern to signal the ship's location to the rebels, and knocks Odell out when he grows suspicious. The British detect his activity, however, and John is forced to dive into the river to escape as the rebels open fire on the ship. The following morning, John takes rebel troops to Smith's house, and finds Andre's uniform jacket in the closet. When John learns from the rebel leader that Osborne was arrested but released into Arnold's custody, he deduces that the general is a traitor. On the road, John encounters the captured Andre and discovers that he is actually Osborne. Arnold flees to the British, and Andre is found guilty of spying by a military court and sentenced to death. John tells the court that Andre entered their lines as a soldier and should be treated as a prisoner of war rather than a spy, noting that Andre removed his uniform only at Arnold's instruction. The court is not swayed, however. That evening, Andre asks John to look after Sally. John is unwilling to abandon his friend's cause, and the next morning, asks Andre to endorse George Washington's proposal that Clinton exchange Arnold for Andre. Andre refuses, saying that to ask Clinton to betray his alliance with Arnold would insult his honor. With great dignity, and proudly wearing his uniform, Andre walks out to meet his death. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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