The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox

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The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox
Duchess and the dirtwater fox movie poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed byMelvin Frank
Produced byMelvin Frank
Written byMelvin Frank
Barry Sandler
Jack Rose
StarringGoldie Hawn
George Segal
Music byCharles Fox
CinematographyJoseph F. Biroc
Edited byFrank Bracht
Bill Butler
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • March 24, 1976 (1976-03-24) (Los Angeles)[1]
Running time
103 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$4,120,000 (US/ Canada)[3]

The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox is a 1976 American western romantic comedy film starring Goldie Hawn and George Segal, produced, directed and co-written by Melvin Frank.


In 1882 San Francisco, popular dance hall girl Amanda Quaid learns that Mormon millionaire Josiah Widdicombe is seeking a well-bred governess for his children. Looking for an easier life, Amanda needs $65 to buy clothes for the interview. She accepts an invitation from gambler Charlie "Dirtwater Fox" Malloy to join him in his hotel room, where she discovers he is carrying a satchel full of stolen money that he acquired by double-crossing the Bloodworth gang in a bank robbery. Drugging Charlie and stealing the satchel, she buys a new outfit and successfully interviews with Widdicombe as the "Duchess of Swansbury."

When Charlie finds the money gone, he heads east on his horse Blackjack and catches up to the stagecoach carrying Amanda to Salt Lake City, Utah. Charlie recognizes Amanda and makes her agree to give him a portion of her salary in exchange for keeping her real identity a secret. On their trip, they encounter snakes, rapids, horseback pursuits through towns, a Jewish wedding, and the Bloodworth gang who capture them and take back the money. The pair are tied down with stakes and left to die, but manage to escape when Amanda uses a lorgnette to burn through the ropes.

The couple almost make it to Salt Lake City, but Charlie is not willing to give up the money and hatches a plan to get it back from the Bloodworth gang. He sets booby traps at the gang's ranch and starts a fire in the barn, retrieving the loot in the process. In the ensuing chase and gunfight, the gang members are killed but Charlie is wounded. Charlie believes he is dying, but Amanda calls him lazy, grabs the satchel and walks toward Salt Lake City; Charlie and Blackjack get to their feet and follow.


According to the closing credits, much of the film was shot in and around the historic community of Central City, Colorado. Matte paintings were used to re-create the historic look of San Francisco and Salt Lake City. Purportedly, the scene of the location where the stagecoach crashed off the stage road onto the cliff below was along Shelf Road (which connects Canyon City to Cripple Creek, and follows Fourmile Creek) as it wanders through Helena Canyon.



Richard Eder of The New York Times wrote that "the gags make for monotony. Here the action—there is lots of it—has been polluted for the sake of gags that are rarely even funny in themselves."[4] The Chicago Tribune's Gene Siskel gave the film two stars out of four and noted it was indebted to the comedy of Mel Brooks and Blazing Saddles in particular, but only had one really funny scene (in which Segal and Hawn converse in a mixture of different languages).[5] Arthur D. Murphy of Variety wrote, "While the 104-minute film is more than simply an acceptable effort, it lacks the punch, dash and excitement which makes a film comedy really great."[6] Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times called it "a vigorous little diversion, fast, efficient and peppered if not replete with inventive jokes ... Mostly the movie has Segal and Hawn, who are both shrewd and attractive light comedians."[7] Caroline Lewis of The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote that "except when they are scoring points off the more obvious clichés, the visual and verbal puns seem rather unsure of their targets, and the film fails to sustain the pace set by a few hilarious scenes."[8]

The film has a 20% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 5 reviews.[9]


  1. ^ "The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox - Details". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  2. ^ Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press, 1989 p258
  3. ^ Solomon p 233. Please note figures are rentals not total gross.
  4. ^ Eder, Richard (April 8, 1976). "Screen: 'Duchess and Dirtwater Fox'". The New York Times. 43.
  5. ^ Siskel, Gene (April 7, 1976). "'Duchess ' like 'Saddle' sequel but it's a horse of another color". Chicago Tribune. Section 4, p. 5.
  6. ^ Murphy, Arthur D. (March 17, 1976). "Film Reviews: The Duchess And The Dirtwater Fox". Variety. 22.
  7. ^ Champlin, Charles (March 24, 1976). "For the Raucous in Heart". Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 1.
  8. ^ Lewis, Caroline (May 1976). "The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 43 (508): 98.
  9. ^ "The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 24, 2019.

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