Film: The Legend of Frenchie King
The Legend of Frenchie King
(French title: Les Petroleuses
) is a 1971 Spaghetti 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 Doctor 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 Doctor 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.
- 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.
- Animals Hate Him: The sheriff's horse runs away at the sight of him; played for comedy, of course. The dog he picks up from the street seems okay with him though.
- 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.
- Back-to-Back Badasses: Louise and Maria in most posters.
- Badass Longcoat: Maria gets one with the white outfit that Louise gives her.
- 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 Girlfriend: The Leroi sisters to the Sarrazin brothers. 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.
- 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.
- Big Sister Instinct: Kidnap Maria's brothers and suffer.
- Blasting It out of Their Hands: Louise does this to Maria in their only gunfight.
- Boobs of Steel: The girl Louise holds as an hostage during the train robbery later describes her as having a "powerful chest" (what's funny is that everyone thinks she's a man at this point).
- Book Ends: 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.
- 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 the location of the oil well.
- 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.
- Calling Card: Louise likes to leave white flowers in the scenes of her crimes (preferably pinned on her wanted posters too).
- Card-Carrying Villain: Louise is proud of being the most infamous bandit in the west.
- Card Sharp: Louise's sisters con Maria's brothers out of a lot of money through a card game, although Maria arrives in time to put a stop to 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?
- The Chessmaster: Louise.
- Cigarette of Anxiety: Louise smokes while waiting for Maria to come to her after kidnapping her brothers.
- 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: During the cat fight.
- The Comically Serious: Spitting Bull placing a bet during the cat fight.
- Completely Different Title: The original title means "Petrol Women". Not exactly catchy, but it's still better than a title that suggests that Louise is the sole main character.
- The Japanese title is Kareinaru Taiketsu. It means "Magnificent Showdown".
- There's two Finnish titles - one means "Taming the Texas". Okay. But the other? "Oil, Chicks and Bad Guys". Cringe.
- Both Denmark's and Norway's titles translate into "West's Wildcats".
- Corpsing: Variation. In the scene where Louise rides one of the Sarrazins' untamed horses, Maria laughs and covers her face. The act of covering her face is OOC for someone like Maria, but Claudia Cardinale was known to do this when she laughed in real life.
- Counting Bullets:
Louise: This is just a detail, but you're out of bullets.
Maria: So are you.
- Daddy's Little Villain: Louise.
- Death by Irony: Doctor Miller gets killed in a random explosion right after the oil is successfully dug up.
- 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.
- Distracted by the Sexy: The sheriff and Maria's brothers on a constant basis.
- Distressed Dude: Maria's brothers getting kidnapped by the Kings.
- Dogged Nice Guy: The sheriff.
- Double In-Law Marriage: 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.
- The Dreaded: The Sarrazins for the population of Bougival Junction.
- Dreaming of a White Christmas: Discussed. 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.
- Dueling-Stars Movie: 'Dueling' being taken quite literally here.
- 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
- Everybody Calls Him Barkeep: The sheriff, taken Up to Eleven by Maria with her habit of calling him by the name of the profession she needs him to be at a particular moment.
- 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 and the Sarrazins ARE bandits, after all.
- Expecting Someone Taller: After learning off-screen that Louise is indeed Frenchie King, Maria expresses disappointment in her lackadaisical attitude.
- Extremely Short Timespan: Takes place over the course of about three days.
- 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.
- 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.
- Fragile Flower: Marquis cries easily.
- Friendly Local Chinatown: Bougival Junction is a French variant.
- Funny Foreigner: The sheriff is the only English-as-first-language speaking character in the Francophone setting and much of the humor comes from his difficulty in communicating with the other characters.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- Happiness in Slavery: Marquis and Spitting Bull.
- Hazy Feel Turn: Louise and Maria are on opposite sides, both similar in their (lack of) morality. Maria is on Louise's side by the end of the film.
- Heroes Love Dogs: The sheriff, who's the most moral 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.
- Hot-Blooded: Maria. Nothing says hot blood like storming into the local pub, firing off your pistols, looking for your brothers because it's past their bedtime.
- 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.
- I Have Brothers: Subverted. Growing up with four brothers hasn't made Maria more tolerant of their boyish antics, and she's shown to be much more competent than them.
- 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!
- Iron Lady: How the Sarrazin bros and, to a lesser extent, the whole of Bougival Junction see Maria.
- It's Personal: Louise fights Maria without aid from her sisters because she decided it was a personal matter.
- Kick the Dog: Doctor Miller throws a dog out of a moving train for no real reason.
- 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.
- Lack of Empathy: Doctor Miller seems to have no feelings of any kind for the people or the events around him.
- 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 orders her sisters to deal with the Sarrazin brothers while she handles Maria.
- Let's Fight Like Ladies: Louise and Maria tacitally agree to use Good Old Fisticuffs instead of weapons.
- 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.
- Mammy: Marquis, despite being male. He's a fat and aged servant who takes care of all domestic chores, and occasionally nags Louise to take better care of herself.
- Men Children: The Sarrazin brothers.
- Meaningful Name: Invoked by Louise Leroi ("The King") when she refers to Maria as a "little peasant".
- Throughout most of his life, Marquis has been serving a family named Leroi.
- Minion Shipping / Outlaw Couple: The Leroi and Sarrazin siblings.
- Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Doctor Miller killed another guy who knew about the ranch and is arguably the main villain of the film, despite the fact that he doesn't show up all that much.
- My Brothers Are Off Limits: Maria doesn't want her brothers anywhere near the Lerois. Of course, they're enemies, so this is justified.
- 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: The Gossipy Hens wear fabulously horrible cylindrical hats.
- Noble Demon: Despite shamelessly pledging to a criminal lifestyle, Louise has her honor and rules of conduct.
- No Hero to His Valet: Spitting Bull is implied to feel some measure of contempt for the Sarrazin brothers, but not Maria, apparently.
- Non-Action Big Bad: Doctor Miller, by virtue of being incapacitated and far away from where the action is set in.
- Non-Action Guy: Male characters are either useless (Maria's brothers), bumbling (sheriff), passive (Marquis and Spitting Bull) or evil schemers (Doctor Miller).
- No Name Given: The sheriff is a subversion. His name is Morgan Jeffson as stated in the movie, but in any credits listing he'll be referred to as just 'the sheriff'.
- Not so Above It All: 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.
- Old Retainer: Marquis for the Lerois, Spitting Bull for the Sarrazins.
- 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.
- Perpetual Poverty: The Sarrazins, despite breeding horses and stealing, 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?
- Police Are Useless: The sheriff is a klutz who's too busy drooling over criminals to actually arrest them.
- 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.
- Pun-Based Title: Les Petroleuses. A 'petroleuse' was a certain type of very radical feminist who would commit arson. The title is a pun based on the fact that the movie's plot deals with petrol and very strong female characters.
- The Quiet One: Spitting Bull.
- Really Gets Around: Frenchie King. The Lerois are all half-sisters. Do the math.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: The sheriff considers his placement in Bougival Junction as this.
"Of all the thousands of towns in the West I had to land in this one, filled with those goddamned Frenchmen!"
- Red Baron: Louise's Frenchie King, Maria's Man in White.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Hot blooded Maria and chessmaster Louise.
- Overly emotional Marquis and stoic Spitting Bull are another example.
- Retired Outlaw: What Louise intends to be by settling in the ranch. It doesn't work out in the end.
- 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 spaghetti 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.
- She Is the King: While she doesn't rule over anything (except her own gang), Louise has effectively inherited the title of Frenchie King from her father.
- 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.
- 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 Smiler: Louise, especially where Maria is concerned.
- Smug Snake: Doctor Miller. He dies while laughing at his success!
- Spanner in the Works: Of course Louise is vaguely aware that she's screwing over someone known as Doctor Miller. She couldn't care less. But she has no clue of what a bastard he is or of how she's probably bettering people's lives by screwing him over.
- 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)
- The Stoic: Spitting Bull.
- 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 gets knocked out by one.
- 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 black Marquis, and the native Americans Spitting Bull and Little Rain, one of Louise's sisters.
- 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.
- True Blue Femininity: Maria's most feminine attire is a blue dress which she only wears on specific occasions.
- Tsundere: Maria, to her brothers and the sheriff.
- Twisted Christmas: Louise's father was hanged on Christmas Day.
- Unfamiliar Ceiling: After being roughly beaten up by the Lerois, Doctor Miller is chucked out of the train and wakes up under the care of a Chinese acupuncturist, though he's not entirely benevolent as he takes all his money and refuses to continue the treatment without more.
- 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.
- Unkempt Beauty: Maria usually wears quite dingy and dirty clothes, contrasting Louise who generally has a cleaner appearance.
- 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.
- Villain Protagonist: Louise and Maria.
- 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.
- Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?: The sheriff is also the judge, executive and legislator for Bougival Junction. He also has the authority to pronounce marriages official. And his office doubles as the town's dog pound.
- Woman in Black / Woman in White: Louise and Maria respectively. Maria only at the end, though.
- Women Are Wiser
- 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.