Classic Film Guide

Tulsa (1949)

Producer Walter Wanger and director Stuart Heisler shared a Special Effects Academy Award nomination for the action in this average (Technicolor) romance drama set in 1920's Oklahoma; it begins like an advertisement for the titled city and the oil business but ends by making a case for land conservation. Lovely Susan Hayward plays Cherokee Lansing, the daughter of a rancher that was accidentally killed by oilmen such that she ambitiously pursues revenge on the responsible party, Bruce Tanner (Lloyd Gough), with help from Native American Jim Redbird (Pedro Armendáriz) and Brad Brady (Robert Preston), the son of an "oil-catter" (Ed Begley) who'd left his leases to her. All three men are romantically interested in Cherokee. Chill Wills narrates and plays a colorful character named Pinky Jimpson, a blood cousin of Cherokee that calls everyone else "cousin" as a term of endearment. Jimmy Conlin appears briefly as the wildcatter's accountant Homer Triplette. Brad is the engineer that helps Cherokee strike oil on Jim's land in the nick of time (e.g. before Tanner forecloses on her) but is then driven by her newfound wealth and greed such that she and Bruce become partners. Distraught with the reality that his land will soon become unfit for ranching per all the oil derricks to be built there, Jim starts a fire that quickly spreads and consumes much of the Lansing-Tanner oilfields before all the primary characters work together to stop it. The raging fires and explosions to create the necessary fire line contributed to the Oscar nominated effects. Selmer Jackson is among those who appear uncredited.

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