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The Flame of New Orleans

Released Apr 24, 1941 1h 19m Romance Comedy Drama List
29% Tomatometer 7 Reviews 55% Audience Score 100+ Ratings
Claire (Marlene Dietrich) is a French woman in search of a rich husband in 1841 New Orleans. She decides the best way to lure a wealthy suitor is to masquerade as a countess, and soon she attracts two prosperous possible partners (Roland Young, Bruce Cabot). But her ruse risks unraveling when an old associate (Mischa Auer) appears, dropping hints of her salacious past. To rebuff his sabotage, Claire invents a troubled cousin, then impersonates her, adding a new persona to her subterfuge. Read More Read Less

Critics Reviews

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John C. Mosher New Yorker With every picture now, Marlene Dietrich grows more and more a comic. I mean it in the most delightful and flattering sense, for the lady is very droll indeed, and charming also, in The Flame of New Orleans. Sep 6, 2018 Full Review Variety Staff Variety Picture misses its apparent mark of being a smartly sophisticated farce by a considerable margin, winding up as a lightweight entry. Mar 26, 2009 Full Review Theodore Strauss New York Times What, pray, has happened to Rene Clair? That is the first question which pops into the mind of a chagrined filmgoer after seeing [this] stilted and sluggish comedy. Aug 8, 2006 Full Review George Orwell Time and Tide Neither Marlene Dietrich nor René Clair’s direction are seen quite at their best in this romantic comedy. Oct 2, 2023 Full Review Don Q. Cine-Mundial The story is appealing, the direction is magnificent, and the photography is excellent. [Full review in Spanish] Sep 18, 2019 Full Review Film4 Staff Film4 Clair -- making his first Hollywood film -- tries valiantly to inject some weight into this fluffy material, but it's a losing battle. May 24, 2003 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

View All (8) audience reviews
Matthew D Marlene Dietrich tricks men and there's a cute monkey! French director René Clair's romantic comedy The Flame of New Orleans (1941) is beautiful and hilarious with a bit of nice romance alongside the hilarity. Clair's flamboyant direction brings a flair and playfulness to this Southern costume comedy. Clair swiftly informs his characters of new developments and past indiscretions. His direction is quite clever and upbeat. Writers René Clair and Norman Krasna make fun of foolish men too naive to see a woman playing them. Having a lady duping rich men out of their money reminded me of Heartbreakers or Hustlers. The very outrageous concept is like a sillier version making fun of Jezebel or Gone with the Wind. I liked Clair and Krasna writing humorous jokes critiquing the lazy rich and idle rich, too preoccupied to see when they're being used for money or amusement. They do bother praising the passionate and lively working class compared to the imbeciles in wealth, but mentioning how any guy can get fooled by a pretty face. German actress Marlene Dietrich is lovely as the two-faced Countess Claire Ledoux. Her verbal dressing down of men is a scream. Dietrich's piano playing, flirty singing, and sizzling glances are a delight to watch. She really glows with a radiant elegance, easy charm, and striking grace. Marlene Dietrich effortlessly dupes all these gullible gentlemen. I like all her worried expressions that let us know when she's concerned how much a man knows of her affairs. Her fainting trick and sweet gazes of longing are as entertaining as Marlene's singing. She can play innocent and cute to sultry and alluring with ease to sell fainting or an evil twin. American actor Bruce Cabot is excellent as the suave swashbuckler corsair Captain Robert Latour. He looks like they cast Cabot as a parody of Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind. His romantic love interest pairs nicely with the femme fatale Marlene Dietrich portrays. English actor Roland Young is funny as the rich sap Charles Giraud. His gullible banker is so idiotic and entertaining. Russian actor Mischa Auer is a riot as the stupid Russian seducer Zototov. Andy Devine, Frank Jenks, and Eddie Quillan are fun as the amiable sailors in Cabot's crew. Laura Hope Crews' deaf Auntie, Franklin Pangborn's nervous Bellows, Theresa Harris' clever maid Clementine, Clarence Muse's exaggerating carriage driver Samuel, Melville Cooper's shrewd brother-in-law, Anne Revere's judgmental sister, and Bob Evans' excitable William are excellently amusing side characters. Editor Frank Gross slickly cuts The Flame of New Orleans into a briskly paced 79 minutes. Cinematographer Rudolph Maté has beautiful black and white wide shots that neatly pan around to show us all the characters moving. His close-up shots are stunning like Jack Otterson's striking art direction or set decorator Russell A. Gausman's New Orleans sets for a ship, fancy clubs, or an old bar. Composer Frank Skinner writes a delicate and lively film score for The Flame of New Orleans. It's a charming romantic soundtrack to clash against sound designer Bernard B. Brown's rowdy crowd noises. Swiss costume designer René Hubert fashions dozens of glamorous gowns for the ravishing Marlene Dietrich. From nightclub dresses, ballroom gowns, to even a wedding dress. I am amazed by Hubert's extravagant designs. In all, The Flame of New Orleans is such a blast because of Marlene Dietrich's searing performance. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 06/02/23 Full Review georgan g Wanting to marry a rich man, Marlene Dietrich works on snaring a banker. However, she falls in love with a boat captain with little money. At the last moment She makes a choice. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review Audience Member One of my favourite French directors from the period gets his chance with the great Dietrich, and in his American debut to boot. It's always a treat to see his comedic insights, this time set on a beautiful woman who's worn out her welcome everywhere else, yet while trying to make a fresh new start of things, gets embroiled in a bizarre love triangle with two completely different types of men. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/24/23 Full Review Audience Member good costume drama vehicle for dietrich Rated 3 out of 5 stars 01/21/23 Full Review Audience Member The unfortunate part is that Dietrich did not dress as a man as she did so often in the 1930's, causing outrage. Outrage! She did dress up like her make-believe cousin in an attempt to fool some dudes, at least the cousin could have been a man. That would have made the film slightly different, I think. Her fans in the queer community probably would have liked it more. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 01/18/23 Full Review Audience Member This is one of my Favorite Marlene Dietrich Roles.In her Beautiful Gowns, setting a Coquettish Trap, but Vulnerable at the same time & desperate to find a Wealthy Husband.Nobody does Feminine Whiles quite the Coquettish way Marlene Dietrich Does. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 02/19/23 Full Review Read all reviews
The Flame of New Orleans

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Cast & Crew

My Man Godfrey 97% 90% My Man Godfrey City Lights 95% 96% City Lights TRAILER for City Lights Counsellor-at-Law 100% 79% Counsellor-at-Law Fanny 100% 88% Fanny True Heart Susie 71% 59% True Heart Susie Discover more movies and TV shows. View More

Movie Info

Synopsis Claire (Marlene Dietrich) is a French woman in search of a rich husband in 1841 New Orleans. She decides the best way to lure a wealthy suitor is to masquerade as a countess, and soon she attracts two prosperous possible partners (Roland Young, Bruce Cabot). But her ruse risks unraveling when an old associate (Mischa Auer) appears, dropping hints of her salacious past. To rebuff his sabotage, Claire invents a troubled cousin, then impersonates her, adding a new persona to her subterfuge.
Director
René Clair
Producer
René Clair, Joe Pasternak
Screenwriter
Norman Krasna
Distributor
Universal Pictures
Production Co
Universal Pictures
Genre
Romance, Comedy, Drama
Original Language
English
Release Date (Theaters)
Apr 24, 1941, Wide
Release Date (Streaming)
Jul 8, 2018
Runtime
1h 19m