Film / The Legend of Frenchie King
The Legend of Frenchie King
(French title: Les Petroleuses
) is a 1971 Euro-Western starring Brigitte Bardot
and Claudia Cardinale.
Louise Leroi (Bardot) and her sisters are famous bandits who, while robbing a train, find the deed to a ranch. When the train arrives in the French-speaking community of Bougival Junction, Maria Sarrazin (Cardinale) and her brothers find the map of the ranch in what's left of the train's loot, and discover that there's oil in the ranch. The Lerois move to Bougival Junction with Louise under the guise of Dr. Miller, who's the true owner of the ranch, and start a cold war with the Sarrazins over the property, and things become mildly complicated when the respective sisters and brothers fall for each other. A bumbling sheriff who can't speak French is caught in the middle of all this.
Provides examples of:
- Absolute Cleavage: Every outfit Maria wears ever.
- Accidental Hug / Security Cling: Louise and Maria when they're wrestling each other and they see the oil suddenly spilling out from the well.
- Action Prologue: The train robbery within five minutes of the start which is where Dr. Miller loses the deed to the Lerois.
- Added Alliterative Appeal: Haha! It's a movie starring BB and CC!
- Almost Kiss: Maria and the sheriff in the scene where she tries to seduce him into giving her the ranch.
- All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The Lerois taking over the oil ranch, spurring the Sarrazins into trying to kick them out.
- Altar the Speed: Louise and Maria's siblings marry each other under the sheriff's watch before they're shipped off to prison.
- Amazon Brigade: The Lerois.
- An Ass-Kicking Christmas: Takes place during Christmas-time (the film itself was also released originally in the Christmas season, as out-of-place as it seems).
- And the Adventure Continues: The Lerois and Sarrazins leave Bougival Junction and presumably go on with their bandit lifestyle.
- Apathetic Citizens: The population of Bougival Junction is terrified of the Sarrazins but literally does nothing to get them arrested and even treats them as average citizens on their off days.
- Artistic License – Geography: No, Christmas in Texas is NOT like Christmas in Australia. Wintertime temperatures in Texas actually vary between mildly cold or very cold, like most of the Northern hemisphere.
- Back-to-Back Badasses: Louise and Maria in most posters.
- Ballad of X: "The Ballad of Frenchie King", which shows up just before the first train robbery.
- Bank Robbery: Louise and her gang have robbed many banks prior to the movie; we only see them doing Train Jobs, however.
- Bar Brawl: The Leroi sisters try to cheat the Sarrazins at poker; when they're found out they start a fight.
- Bastard Bastard: The Leroi sisters were all born out of wedlock. They are criminals.
- Bastard Girlfriend: The Leroi sisters to the Sarrazin brothers; they knock them out, tie them up, and kidnap them. The latter group doesn't seem to mind.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Neither Louise or Maria look much worse for wear following their fight, although they have visible bruises.
- Behind Every Great Man: Maria talks about how Napoleon Bonaparte wouldn't have been who he was without the input of his mother, using the tale to lecture her brothers on how they should respect her more.
- Best Friends In Law: Louise and Maria at the end, since their siblings marry each other.
- Betty and Veronica: From the sheriff's perspective, Maria is the Betty and Louise is the Veronica.
- Bifauxnen: Louise and her sisters are called men in all wanted posters and are described as men by their victims. Same thing for Maria, when she joins them and becomes known as The Man in White.
- Bifauxnen and Lad-ette: Louise and Maria.
- Blasting It out of Their Hands: Louise does this to Maria in their only gunfight.
- Bookends: Starts (almost) with a train robbery and riding through the prairie, ends in the same way.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Maria winks at the camera at the end.
- Braids, Beads and Buckskins: Both Little Rain and Spitting Bull (who have nothing to do with each other) wear generic headbands. Spitting Bull's has a feather, and he also wears the stereotypical leather vest and pants, plus a necklace of beads. Little Rain doesn't get all this because she's part of the Frenchie King gang and thus has to dress similarly to her sisters for character-grouping purposes.
- Bullet Dancing: Maria does this to Louise in the bar, and the latter retaliates by showing off her accuracy and shooting the gun off Maria's hands. Later Louise does this to the Sarrazin brothers as a form of torture to make them spill Little P. ranch's secret.
- Butt Monkey: Mainly the sheriff and Maria's brothers, but also, unexpectedly, Maria herself, as she seems to find herself on the receiving end of Louise's humiliation much more than vice-versa.
- Cassandra Truth: No one, save for Maria, Louise, and Dr. Miller, believes the ranch has anything of value. Aunt Amelie scoffs at Maria when she tells her she has the map to prove it.
- Catch Your Death of Cold: Maria says that Louise will "catch her death" from swimming in the river.
- Cat Fight: The reason this film exists. Who wouldn't want to watch the Alliterative Duo beat the crap out of each other?
- City Slicker: Louise and her sisters are pretending to be this, with their rather flashy dresses that are impractical for the setting. Maria makes fun of them for this, and is thoroughly surprised when Louise shows herself to be an ace with a gun.
- Clothing Damage: The cat fight has a lot of loud sounds of clothes ripping that aren't connected to any actual visible tearing, and after it's over Louise and Maria's clothes are in tatters, even though neither of them were aiming for each other's clothes in particular.
- Counting Bullets:
Louise: This is just a detail, but you're out of bullets.
Maria: So are you.
- Dark Action Girl: Louise, Maria and the former's sisters. We're talking about a bandit chief and her mooks, and a vicious hellcat of a rancher.
- Dark is Evil: The outlaw Leroi family dresses all in black, unless they're going undercover.
- Death by Irony: Doctor Miller gets killed in a random explosion right after the oil is successfully dug up.
- Deceased Parents Are the Best: The Lerois have nothing but fond memories of their father despite him being an infamous outlaw. Their mothers, for their part, are glossed over and it's implied they didn't really know them.
- Determined Homesteader's Children: The Sarrazins.
- Deus ex Machina: The explosion that kills Miller seriously has no cause to happen. It's just there to not make him a Karma Houdini and to make the movie a shorter one than it could have been.
- Diagonal Billing: Averted due to coming out a few years before the movie that popularised this billing method. Despite their characters being equally important, Brigitte Bardot is billed ahead of Claudia Cardinale. The English version of the credits tries to remedy this preference by claiming they're listed in alphabetical order.
- Did I Mention It's Christmas?: The fact that it's the Christmas season is not important to the plot, it's just there to match up with the movie's release, which happened to be in mid-December.
- Distracted by the Sexy: The sheriff and Maria's brothers on a constant basis.
- Distressed Dude: Maria's brothers getting kidnapped by the Lerois.
- Double In-Law Marriage: Quadruple in-law marriage between the Leroi and Sarrazin siblings.
- Double Knock-Out Means Friendship: Louise and Maria's Cat Fight ends with both fainting from fatigue. A minute later, they're more-or-less instant BFFs.
- Dreaming of a White Christmas: One guy (French immigrant, as are almost all characters) complains that this will be his 17th Christmas without snow.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Doctor Miller's death is rather random and WTF-inducing.
- Engagement Challenge: Maria promises the sheriff that she will love him if he can somehow make the ranch her property, though it's likely she never intended to keep her word. Also, the sheriff flat-out tells her it's impossible and doesn't even try.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Both Louise and Maria love their siblings.
- Every Man Has His Price: Maria offers 3 times the amount of money that Louise spent in buying the ranch in hopes of getting rid of her without her discovering that the land has oil. It backfires because: 1) Louise did not care for her tone in negotiating with her, and 2) it made her suspicious of why Maria was trying so hard to make her leave.
- Evil Is One Big, Happy Family: The Lerois and the Sarrazins at the end.
- Evil Versus Evil: The Lerois are bandits, the Sarrazins torment their town for the giggles (kind of like delinquents, if you will). Pick a side!
- Expecting Someone Taller: After learning off-screen that Louise is indeed Frenchie King, Maria expresses disappointment in her lackadaisical attitude.
- Famed In-Story: Frenchie King.
- Family Honor: Louise is big on this. Her father is the late, original Frenchie King and she and her sisters became bandits to keep his name alive.
- Feuding Families: Subverted. Only the heads of the families have a problem with each other.
- Finishing Each Other's Sentences:
Maria: If we had met each other before...
Louise: ... we'd have fought for fun.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Maria is the responsible sister to her four foolish brothers.
- Fourth Date Marriage: The Leroi and Sarrazin siblings have known each other for two days tops before marrying. And most of their acquainting happens during the kidnapping.
- Gambit Roulette: Louise's plan to kidnap Maria's brothers relies on a series of Contrived Coincidences, yet she and her sisters act like they've got everything carefully predicted and set up.
- Generation Xerox: Maria's bossing of her brothers and men in general is apparently a common trait in every Pastucci woman (Pastucci being her mother's maiden name).
- Genius Ditz: Subverted. The sheriff at one point suspects that Louise might be Frenchie King, but since he's attracted to her he pushes the thought aside.
- Genre Blindness: After deciding to take possession of the ranch, Louise throws away her gun and encourages her sisters to do so as well. IN A WESTERN. She later acknowledges what a retarded move that was.
- Geodesic Cast
- Grin of Audacity: Both Louise and Maria give one before they start fighting.
- Gossip Evolution: In a single conversation.
Gossipy Hen 1: The ranch was sold to a doctor dressed as woman!
Gossipy Hen 2: A woman dressed as a doctor!...
- Hair Contrast Duo: Blonde Louise and brunette Maria. Louise's sisters are also two blondes and two brunettes.
- Hammerspace: Is Louise really packing several sets of identical clothes multiplied by five in that single trunk?
- Henpecked Husband: The Letellier couple (the owners of the local pub).
- Heroes Love Dogs: The sheriff, who's the most heroic character in the film even if he has trouble living up to it in practice, randomly adopts a dog from the street.
- The Hilarious Table: The family dynamics of the Lerois and the Sarrazins are revealed to the viewers through two such scenes (in the Lerois' case, it's a campfire).
- Hit Me, Dammit!: Louise lets Maria land the first punch without defending or evading. There's no explanation as to why she would do that, but given the importance she places on blood ties, it might've been her way of apologizing to Maria for kidnapping her brothers.
- Homosocial Heterosexuality: Louise and Maria humour the sheriff because he has the power to hand over the ranch to either of them, but otherwise don't care about him.
- Horsing Around: The scene where Louise rides Maria's untamed horse.
- Hypocritical Humor: In one scene, Louise tries to get under Maria's skin by saying that she almost mistook Maria for a woman. This is while Louise is wearing a very mannish outfit herself, and Maria is wearing a dress with a corsets underneath. Maria shoves the insult back in Louise's face by way of a musical number and a tame strip-tease to showcase her femininity.
- I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Before the sheriff arrives at her house to negotiate the ranch, Maria adjusts her shirt to show some cleavage, obviously hoping it'll persuade him.
- Internal Reveal: Near the end, Louise reveals to Maria, offscreen, that she is Frenchie King, something the audience knows from the start. Morgan also presumably connects the dots when Dr. Miller comes complaining to him about the ranch.
- Interrupted Intimacy: Louise interrupts her sisters making out with the Sarrazins in order to herd them to the basement for a torture session.
- In the Back: The chemist dies by getting shot in the back by Doctor Miller.
- In the Blood: The Lerois.
- Introdump: How the Leroi sisters are introduced.
- Ironic Echo: At the start, there's this exchange.
Chemist: Doctor, we are the kings of petrol!
Miller: (shoots him) The king is always one.
- Near the end, right before the explosion that kills him, there's this.
Miller: (gleefully) I am the king of petrol!
- It's Always Mardi Gras in New Orleans: The few days that this movie takes place in manage to include a festival celebrating the town's foundation anniversary, which is where Louise and her sisters kidnap Maria's brothers.
- It's Personal: Louise fights Maria without aid from her sisters because she decided it was a personal matter.
- Kick Them While They Are Down: Louise slaps Maria three times after she gets knocked unconscious during the singing scene. Averted during the Cat Fight; if one is down, the other doesn't touch her.
- King of Thieves: Frenchie King, that is, Louise (and her father before her). "The Ballad of Frenchie King" refers to the outlaw as "king of them all" and "king of the West", though in practical terms, Louise only rules over her meager gang of four half-sisters (not that they're the worse for it).
- Lady Macbeth: Maria tries to get the sheriff to hand her over the ranch through not-so-legal ways. Unfortunately for her, he turns out to be more wholesome than expected.
- Leave Her To Me: Louise does this three times concerning Maria. Possessive rival, isn't she?
- First, right after meeting Maria, she tells her sisters, "You talk to the boys. I'll handle the girl".
- Second, at the town fair, three of her sisters try to gang on Maria, but Louise signals for them to back off as she approaches her herself.
- Third, before the fight, her sisters want to back Louise up. She refuses, saying it's between her and Maria.
- Let's Fight Like Ladies: Louise and Maria tacitally agree to use Good Old Fisticuffs instead of weapons.
- Let's Get Out of Here: Miller is distracted by the oil spilling out, the officers are busy with the home-invaders right in front of them, and that gives Marquis and Spitting Bull enough time to sneak their mistresses out of there while Marquis says the stock phrase (or something to the effect).
- Light is Not Good: Maria and her brothers, as they dress all in white once they join the Lerois.
- Literally Loving Thy Neighbor: The Leroi and Sarrazin siblings.
- Lovable Sex Maniac: Maria's brothers.
- Lovely Angels: Louise and Maria develop this dynamic after becoming friends.
- Meek Townsman: Every man in Bougival Junction when confronted with Maria Sarrazin.
- The Men First: Notice that Louise is always the last one to jump off a train that her gang has just robbed. And yes, in the last one she even has Maria jump before herself.
- Minion Shipping / Outlaw Couple: The Leroi and Sarrazin siblings.
- Missed Him by That Much: The Lerois enter the Little P. ranch just as the Sarrazins are leaving their own.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Belphegor, Maria's untamed horse which she tries to sell to Louise. Belphegor is the name of a demon. He's called Beelzebub in the English version.
- National Stereotypes: You know Maria is Corsican because she is Hot-Blooded and has lots of Napoleon Bonaparte busts at her house.
- Nice Hat: Par for the course in a western but special mention goes to the Gossipy Hens' ridiculous cylindrical hats.
- Non-Action Guy: Male characters are either useless (Maria's brothers), bumbling (Morgan), passive (Marquis and Spitting Bull) or capable but injured (Dr. Miller).
- Not So Different: The sheriff tells Louise that she's like a second Maria, "from out West". Louise obviously doesn't appreciate the comparison.
- Not So Stoic: When the Sarrazin bros confirm that the ranch indeed has oil, the normally chill Louise has an outburst of joy but then checks herself and quickly puts her guard back up.
- Of Corsets Sexy: Maria gets a corset from her aunt (she's a singer at a saloon) for Christmas. She strips down to it during the musical number.
- Off-into-the-Distance Ending: The movie ends with Louise, Maria and their siblings riding as a gang into the distant prairie.
- Outdoor Bath Peeping: The Sarrazin brothers spy on the Lerois who are enjoying the river.
- Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Louise and Maria at first. They become more obvious in their attempts to insult each other as the movie goes on.
- Pass the Popcorn: Marquis and Spitting Bull treat the cat fight between their mistresses like sport.
- Patriotic Fervor: The population of Bougival Junction does not like 'Americans', and 'American' is apparently an insult. No one seems to have any problem with the sheriff, though.
- The Peeping Tom: The sheriff spies on Louise taking a bath.
- The Sarrazin bros spy on the Lerois swimming in the river; Maria puts a stop to it.
- Perpetual Poverty: The Sarrazins, despite breeding horses, still rely on their aunt's loans to survive.
- Pervert Revenge Mode: Maria judo throws a guy for attempting to cop a feel.
- Plot Hole: How does Doctor Miller get the money to treat himself considering he's in the middle of nowhere, incapable of moving and in the hands of someone who won't move a finger for him without getting paid?
- Posthumous Character: Frenchie King; Maria's parents, whose graves we catch a glimpse of.
- Promotion to Parent: Maria acts very much like a mother to her brothers.
- Louise also shows parental traits towards her sisters, calling them "my children" and going to look for them when they're late in arriving home. But her approach is a hell of a lot more hands-off than Maria.
- Pun-Based Title: Les Petroleuses. A 'petroleuse' was a French radical feminist who would commit arson. The title is a pun based on the fact that the movie's plot deals with petroleum and very strong female characters.
- Quirky Town: Bougival Junction, since it's like a miniature France in the middle of the Wild West.
- Really Gets Around: Frenchie King. The Lerois are all half-sisters. Do the math.
- Red Baron: Louise's Frenchie King, Maria's Man in White.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Hot-blooded, abrasive Maria and cunning, laid-back Louise. They even have a yin-yang motif going on since Louise is a blonde in black clothes and Maria is a brunette who gets a white outfit at the end just to contrast Louise.
- Overly emotional Marquis and stoic Spitting Bull are another example.
- Religious and Mythological Theme Naming: Maria's brothers are called Matthieu, Luc, Marc, and Jean. Maria is probably named for the Virgin Mary. Ironically, their family name Sarrazin is derived from Saracen, a medieval term for Muslim.
- Reverse Cerebus Syndrome: The movie opens with Doctor Miller backstabbing and killing a man he was apparently in cahoots with. When it gets to the train robbery scene, it quickly becomes apparent that this is actually one of the lightest Euro-Westerns you'll ever see.
- Runaway Train: Maria is the one to stop the train that Louise robbed, since she knocked out the driver in the process.
- Samus Is a Girl: The Leroi gang doesn't reveal themselves as women until the train robbery scene is over.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: The sheriff quits his job at the end because he can't deal with some 10 criminals on the loose, especially as most of them are women.
- Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: The Polish poster. But spare your excitement, as it's neither Bardot or Cardinale doing it. Instead it shows a caricature of a woman designed by someone who must've been on one hell of a bad drug trip.
- Shameful Strip: Louise does it to the Sarrazin brothers as part of her torture, and gets an eyeful of them in the process.
- Shipper on Deck: The Sarrazin brothers for Maria/the sheriff. The Leroi sisters' attitude during the musical number can be interpreted as them shipping Louise/Maria.
- Shoot the Rope: When Maria asks what Louise plans to do in case she has to face a hanging, Louise nonchalantly replies that she'll use this trope.
- Sibling Team: The Lerois by definition.
- Sleep Cute: Maria's arm is slung over Louise when they faint and fall to the ground.
- Sliding Scale of Gender Inequality: Level 6. Men are portrayed as being firmly under the women's thumbs, and never get in on any action. That said, the one brothel shown is of women, and Louise's fame as Frenchie King comes largely from her father.
- Small Role, Big Impact: Doctor Miller losing his oil deed kicks off the whole plot, but he has like five minutes of screentime.
- Smug Snake: Doctor Miller. He dies while laughing at his success!
- Spotlight-Stealing Title: It's just as much about Maria as it is about Louise 'Frenchie King'. Averted for the French title and its direct translations.
- Squee!: The Leroi sisters' reaction after first meeting the Sarrazin brothers.
- Standing Between the Enemies: The sheriff successfully stops Louise and Maria's almost-fight in the bar, although he has to pretty much trip over himself to do it. When he tries the same with the Cat Fight, he gets uppercut and hammered down for his troubles, with either woman hardly noticing him.
- Stealth Insult:
Maria: And what's your area, doctor?
Louise: The brain. (subtitles) / Lunatics. (dub)
- Tagline: "The West Ain't No Place for a Man", which in the English version is also the very last line spoken in the film, by the sheriff.
- Take Your Time: Louise is fine with eating chicken by the river while hers and Maria's siblings are arrested and being transported to God knows where.
- Tap on the Head: Maria hits her head on a doorframe after "Prairie Girl" and passes out, leaving Louise's sisters free to kidnap her brothers.
- Teaser-Only Character: The chemist who gets shot by Doctor Miller.
- That's What She Said: The sheriff attempting to practice his French results in this exchange.
Sheriff: Good day ladies. I work... marvelously in the evening.
Louise: Ooooh! How about during the day?
- There Can Only Be One: Louise (who owns the ranch) and Maria (who knows where the oil is exactly) fight over the ranch, being too prideful to strike a deal and cooperate with each other.
- Third Act Stupidity: If Louise had kidnapped Maria along with her brothers, things might have gone her way. Since she was posing as a doctor, it wouldn't have been a problem to bring her to her house under the pretext of watching her condition more closely.
- This Means War!: Louise and Maria are amiccable (for a loose definition of the term) in their first couple of encounters. It's in the bar scene that they first fully express the tension between them, because Maria discovers that Louise had sent her sisters to investigate her brothers.
- Token Minority: The Lerois have their black servant Marquis, and within the family there's Little Rain, who's half-Native American. The Sarrazins have their Native American servant Spitting Bull. And Dr. Miller has the Chinese acupuncturist.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Zig-zagged with Louise and Maria.
- Train Job: Louise and her gang's specialty.
- Translation Convention: In Bougival Junction, people "speak English, if necessary". It makes watching the English version rather amusing. It also makes the first interaction between Maria and the sheriff confusing, since she clearly makes a point of speaking only French and demanding the same of other people.
- Triang Relations: Type 1. The sheriff is interested in both Louise and Maria, but they're just using him.
- A Truce While We Gawk: Louise and Maria's fight stops when they see the oil geysering out.
- Twisted Christmas: Louise's father was hanged on Christmas Day. Merry Christmas, Louise...?
- The Unfought: Doctor Miller. He never personally confronts Louise for stealing his deed, and doesn't get arrested for his own crimes, instead dying anti-climactically in a convenient explosion.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Doctor Miller doesn't give a damn about why there are two women going at each other's throats on his property and just tells the sheriff to do his job.
- "The Villain Sucks" Song: "Prairie Girl", from Maria to Louise.
- "Wanted!" Poster: As expected of a western. Ten thousand dollars is the reward for capturing Frenchie King. It rises to fifteen when the Sarrazins join.
- We Need a Distraction: Louise distracts the sheriff with a combination of wine and sexiness while her sisters go around town to kidnap the Sarrazin bros.
- William Telling: Louise shoots the Sarrazin bros' hats off their heads in the bar scene. That is, after Maria shoots Louise's own hat off.
- Women Are Wiser: Women are consistently shown as more intelligent and capable than men in this movie.
- World of Action Girls: There are exactly zero male badasses in the movie. Louise, her sisters and Maria total six female ones.
- Worthy Opponent: It takes until after the Cat Fight for Louise and Maria to acknowledge each other as such.
- The X of Y: The English title and some other countries who dislike the sound of Les Petroleuses in their language (the Portuguese title is The Queens of Petrol, for example).
- You Can Leave Your Hat On: Maria performs one at the fair, though only down to the corset and stockings. The point of the exercise is apparently to troll Louise.
- You No Take Candle: Spitting Bull.
- Your Mom: Inverted as Louise insults her own aunt to insult Maria.
Louise: You reminded me of my aunt.
Maria: She sang?
Louise: No, she sold fish.
Town Drunk: American is your mother!