When the great American frontier was resounding with the names of such gunman and outlaws as Wyatt Earp, Jesse James, Bat Masterson and Doc Holliday — a beautiful and flirtatious actress swept through the west with her theatrical troupe. A « hellion in pink tights », she was the toast of every settlement from Cheyenne to Virginia City — and became a legend of the old west. This is her story.
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George Cukor takes his only shot at a Western and comes out of it with mixed results (…) It’s one of the rare Westerns that explores the barnstorming troupes in the Old West of the 19th-century. It was loosely based on the acting career of Adah Isaacs Menken, who played the frontier circuit in the 1860s (…) Cukor mixes in a romantic comedy melodrama about show people trying to survive in the theater with a typical shoot-’em up yarn, but the two never come together seamlessly. There’s some of the Cukor charm, enlivened by the feisty performance of the ravishing Sophia Loren, but that gives way to the long lapses into convention that brings everything down to the mundane (…) The film was superbly photographed in lush colors; it look much better than the usual B Western. Its most entertaining sequences were built around the difficulties of presenting the operettas Mazeppa and La Belle Helene to the uneducated, primitive frontier audience. But, in the end, there was too much of a routine western tale and the comedy flagged, so we could see how gaudy this enterprise really was. — Dennis Schwartz