Boom Town (1940)

Boom Town (1940)

This is one of the many entertaining pairings of Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy; it’s about two “wildcat” oil friends who become competitors and also get involved with two beautiful women Claudette Colbert and Hedy Lamarr. Frank Morgan also figures prominently as a competitor and partner. Directed by Jack Conway with a screenplay by John Lee Mahin (Captains Courageous (1937)) that was based on James Edward Grant’s story this slightly above average adventure romance drama received Academy Award nominations for its B&W Cinematography and Special Effects. Lionel Atwill and Chill Wills also appear.

The plot is light fare: Gable is a tough guy who literally runs into tough guy Tracy but the two become fast friends and scheme to drill for oil using someone else’s money (Morgan’s). If I’m not mistaken this film features the scene where the two compete to see who can punch someone the farthest! They eventually strike it rich and even partner with Morgan. Gable meets falls in love with and marries Colbert without realizing that she was Tracy’s girl. But Tracy sucks it up and the two become big time oilmen until Gable’s treatment of Colbert doesn’t meet with Tracy’s standards and the partnership breaks up.

Years later and successful again Gable still with Colbert is working in New York with the beautiful Lamarr in his employ as a spy; Tracy has made his own success as well.

*** SPOILERS ***

Tracy also arrives in New York visits his old flame Colbert goes to Gable’s office and assesses Lamarr and then brawls with Gable to make him realize what he’s got in Colbert. Tracy also testifies in court to help Gable out of a jam. Gable returns to Colbert and has this memorable double entendre exchange:

Gable: “you’re going to stay here with me if I have to lick ya”

Colbert: “of course I’ll stay … you can lick me if it’ll help”

The two then the three (Tracy) and finally the four (Morgan) reconcile and are planning to work together to find oil again as the film closes.

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