The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox (1976)

PG | 103 mins | Comedy, Western | 24 March 1976

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HISTORY

       The 20 Jun 1975 HR announced that screenwriter Melvin Frank had been hired by 20th Century-Fox Film Corporation to produce and direct the picture. Principal photography was scheduled to begin 18 Aug 1975 in CO. The studio considered the film to be one of its “major productions” for 1975. On 28 Aug 1975, the Wet Mountain Tribune in Custer County, CO, reported that one of the film’s two production units photographed several scenes in the city of Westcliffe, CO, on 26 Aug 1975. Filming took place inside the offices of the newspaper, and outside the “old Westcliffe feed store.” According to the article, photography was expected to last several days, but was completed by early afternoon of the first day. The production units were headquartered in Canon City, and had spent the previous two weeks filming on location in Fremont County. They were expected to move the production to Central City in approximately four weeks.
       As reported in the 3 Nov 1975 Box, CO’s First Lady, Dottie Lamm, appeared in the film as a background actor. Mrs. Lamm saw the role as an opportunity to learn about motion picture production by speaking to members of the cast and crew. She hoped to use these insights to aid her state in attracting additional production. Mrs. Lamm planned to donate her earnings from the film to the Coalition for the Equal Rights Amendment. The article estimated that the production company would spend $1.485 million during its stay in CO, 70% of which would go to businesses, and the rest to individual salaries. ... More Less

       The 20 Jun 1975 HR announced that screenwriter Melvin Frank had been hired by 20th Century-Fox Film Corporation to produce and direct the picture. Principal photography was scheduled to begin 18 Aug 1975 in CO. The studio considered the film to be one of its “major productions” for 1975. On 28 Aug 1975, the Wet Mountain Tribune in Custer County, CO, reported that one of the film’s two production units photographed several scenes in the city of Westcliffe, CO, on 26 Aug 1975. Filming took place inside the offices of the newspaper, and outside the “old Westcliffe feed store.” According to the article, photography was expected to last several days, but was completed by early afternoon of the first day. The production units were headquartered in Canon City, and had spent the previous two weeks filming on location in Fremont County. They were expected to move the production to Central City in approximately four weeks.
       As reported in the 3 Nov 1975 Box, CO’s First Lady, Dottie Lamm, appeared in the film as a background actor. Mrs. Lamm saw the role as an opportunity to learn about motion picture production by speaking to members of the cast and crew. She hoped to use these insights to aid her state in attracting additional production. Mrs. Lamm planned to donate her earnings from the film to the Coalition for the Equal Rights Amendment. The article estimated that the production company would spend $1.485 million during its stay in CO, 70% of which would go to businesses, and the rest to individual salaries.
       An article in the 7 Dec 1975 LAT identified one of the interior sets as the Shoo Fly Saloon in Central City. Approximately 150 background actors were hired for the Central City location, including the town’s municipal judge; heavyweight boxer Ron Lyle, who appeared as a “barroom bouncer"; and Rutledge Hawn, father of star Goldie Hawn, who performed on the violin. Frank admitted that Goldie Hawn’s role was originally intended for British actress Glenda Jackson. When Jackson declined, Frank changed the character to “an American girl who pretends to be English in certain places.”
       The 17 Oct 1975 DV announced the completion of principal photography the previous day.
       The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox opened in Los Angeles, CA, on 24 Mar 1976, according to the 15 Mar 1976 LAT. Reviews were mostly lukewarm, exemplified by the 17 Mar 1976 Var, which stated, “it lacks the punch, dash and excitement which makes a film comedy great.”

      End credits conclude with the following statement: "Special thanks to the Central City Opera House Association for permitting us to use the opera house in this picture; and special thanks to the people of Central City, Colorado, for their courtesy and cooperation in the filming of this picture."
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
5 Apr 1976.
---
Box Office
30 Jun 1975.
---
Box Office
3 Nov 1975.
---
Daily Variety
17 Oct 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jun 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Aug 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Oct 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Mar 1976
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
7 Dec 1975
Part IV, p. 45.
Los Angeles Times
15 Mar 1976.
---
Los Angeles Times
24 Mar 1976
p. 1.
New York Times
8 Apr 1976.
---
Seventeen
Jun 1976.
---
Variety
2 Jul 1975.
---
Variety
17 Mar 1976
p. 22.
Wet Mountain Tribune
28 Aug 1975
p. 1.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Melvin Frank Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
Prod mgr
Asst dir
2d unit asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d unit dir of photog
Cam op
Key grip
Gaffer
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
Women`s cost
Men`s cost
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus coord
SOUND
Sd mixer
Rerec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles and opticals
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Hairdresser
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
1st unit scr supv
Casting
Dial coach
Extra casting
STAND INS
Stunt coord
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Please Don't Touch My Plums," words by Sammy Cahn and Melvin Frank, music by Charles Fox [sung by Goldie Hawn]
"Fool's Gold," words by Sammy Cahn and Melvin Frank, music by Charles Fox [sung by Pat Ast]
"Blimey," words by Sammy Cahn and Melvin Frank, music by Charles Fox [sung by John Alderson]
+
MUSIC
"Please Don't Touch My Plums," words by Sammy Cahn and Melvin Frank, music by Charles Fox [sung by Goldie Hawn]
"Fool's Gold," words by Sammy Cahn and Melvin Frank, music by Charles Fox [sung by Pat Ast]
"Blimey," words by Sammy Cahn and Melvin Frank, music by Charles Fox [sung by John Alderson]
"The Touch Of Love," words by Sammy Cahn and Melvin Frank, music by Charles Fox
"Lemon Drops, Lollipops And Sunbeams," words by Sammy Cahn and Melvin Frank, music by Charles Fox, sung by Bobby Vinton.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
24 March 1976
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 24 March 1976
New York opening: 7 April 1976
Production Date:
18 August--16 October 1975 in Colorado
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Copyright Date:
24 March 1976
Copyright Number:
LP45805
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
Color by DeLuxe®
Widescreen/ratio
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
103
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
24493
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1882 San Francisco, California, showgirl Amanda Quaid quits her job in a German saloon after she brawls with one of her coworkers. Elsewhere, gambler Charlie Malloy is about to be lynched for cheating in a poker game, when the Bloodworth gang rides into town and frees him. The gang demands that Charlie repay the favor by assisting them with a bank robbery in the nearby town of Dirtwater, stealing the keys to the bank while seducing the banker’s repulsive wife. Early the next morning, the robbers ride out of Dirtwater with $40,000 and a posse on their trail. The gang abandons Charlie, unaware that he has switched their bag of money for a bag of horse manure. Charlie rides to San Francisco with the intention of sailing to Australia and living off his newly-acquired fortune. In the city, he enters a British-style music hall, where Amanda performs as cockney singer “The Bluebird of Billingsgate.” Angered by Charlie’s crude attempts at flirtation, Amanda knocks him to the floor, quits her job, and goes to the depot to buy a ticket for the next stagecoach out of town. Her plans change, however, when Mormon millionaire Josiah Widdicombe enters, followed by his assorted wives and children, and his assistant, Gladstone. Amanda learns that Widdicombe is seeking a well-bred governess for his children, to live with the family in Salt Lake City, Utah. Seeing this as an opportunity to marry a millionaire, Amanda returns to her job at the music hall so she can raise money to buy clothes for the interview. Following her performance, she accepts an invitation from Charlie ... +


In 1882 San Francisco, California, showgirl Amanda Quaid quits her job in a German saloon after she brawls with one of her coworkers. Elsewhere, gambler Charlie Malloy is about to be lynched for cheating in a poker game, when the Bloodworth gang rides into town and frees him. The gang demands that Charlie repay the favor by assisting them with a bank robbery in the nearby town of Dirtwater, stealing the keys to the bank while seducing the banker’s repulsive wife. Early the next morning, the robbers ride out of Dirtwater with $40,000 and a posse on their trail. The gang abandons Charlie, unaware that he has switched their bag of money for a bag of horse manure. Charlie rides to San Francisco with the intention of sailing to Australia and living off his newly-acquired fortune. In the city, he enters a British-style music hall, where Amanda performs as cockney singer “The Bluebird of Billingsgate.” Angered by Charlie’s crude attempts at flirtation, Amanda knocks him to the floor, quits her job, and goes to the depot to buy a ticket for the next stagecoach out of town. Her plans change, however, when Mormon millionaire Josiah Widdicombe enters, followed by his assorted wives and children, and his assistant, Gladstone. Amanda learns that Widdicombe is seeking a well-bred governess for his children, to live with the family in Salt Lake City, Utah. Seeing this as an opportunity to marry a millionaire, Amanda returns to her job at the music hall so she can raise money to buy clothes for the interview. Following her performance, she accepts an invitation from Charlie to join him in his hotel room, and there she discovers his satchel filled with stolen money. After drugging Charlie, Amanda buys a new outfit, interviews with Widdicombe under the name “the Duchess of Swansbury,” and secures the position. The next day, Charlie searches the city for Amanda and his stolen loot, but instead finds the Bloodworth gang, and heads east on his horse, Blackjack. Charlie catches up to the stagecoach carrying Amanda and Gladstone, and convinces the driver to allow him onboard. Once inside, Charlie recognizes Amanda and hints at revealing her true identity. Upon learning that Gladstone speaks no foreign languages, Charlie, speaking a combination of French, English, Spanish, German, Yiddish, and American slang, agrees to keep Amanda’s past a secret if she gives him a portion of her salary. As the stagecoach passes through a mountain trail, the Bloodworth gang starts a rockslide that leaves the stagecoach without a driver and horses. Gladstone jumps from the runaway coach, later followed by Charlie and Amanda, who discover that they are speeding toward a cliff. When Charlie is unable to find his satchel, Amanda assures him that the bag is at the depot in Virginia City, Nevada, with her other luggage, and they ride Blackjack to their destination. By the time they arrive, however, the baggage office is closed and the clerk refuses them entry unless they produce a $100 bribe. Posing as a prostitute, Amanda robs a drunk and gives the money to Charlie, who gambles it in a poker game. As Charlie leaves the game with his winnings, the three of spades card falls from his sleeve. Charlie runs to the depot with the poker players in pursuit, retrieves his bag, and attempts to escape. However, when he sees Amanda being chased down the street by the sheriff, he interrupts his retreat to take her with him, just as the Bloodworth gang rides into town. With enemies blocking all roads out of city, Charlie and Amanda enter the Palace Hotel, where they find themselves at a Jewish wedding. That evening, they sneak out of Virginia City in the newlyweds’ carriage. The following morning, Amanda fires at a rattlesnake, frightening away two of the horses, and alerting the Bloodworth gang, who are still in pursuit. The couple finds a boat on a riverbank, which takes them downstream while the horse follows on the shore. Charlie and Amanda make love as they drift down the river, but their ecstasy is interrupted by fierce rapids that capsize the boat. They arrive safely on the bank, only to find the Bloodworth gang waiting for them. After retrieving the money, Bloodworth has his men tie the couple to the ground with stakes, expecting them to die from exposure. An elderly prospector and his mule wander past, but the old man is oblivious to the couple’s plight and speaks only to the mule. Blackjack appears moments later, but he, too, is only interested in the mule. Amanda remembers the lorgnette spectacles in her purse, and uses the lenses to burn through the ropes. Before long, the couple is in sight of Salt Lake City. However, Charlie refuses to give up the money and concocts a plan to take it back. He finds a cache of explosives and sets booby traps near the Bloodworth ranch. After he starts a fire in the barn, Charlie retrieves the money from the cabin, and blows it up in the process. Three gang members are killed in the ensuing chase, leaving only Bloodworth and his second-in-command, Ingersoll. As the couple tries to escape on horseback, Blackjack is shot out from under them. When Charlie is shot as well, Amanda kills Bloodworth and Ingersoll. Charlie believes he is dying and wants to go peacefully, with Amanda and the money at his side. Amanda calls him lazy, grabs the satchel, and walks away. Charlie and Blackjack get to their feet and follow her toward Salt Lake City. +

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

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