Oklahoma Kid, The (1939)

“I like all kinds of people… What I don’t take to is this itch for plowing up new empires.”

Synopsis:
During the Cherokee Strip Land Run, a sheriff (Hugh Sothern) and his son Ned (Harvey Stephens) attempt to stake a claim in a town they will call Tulsa, but must strike a bargain with an outlaw (Humphrey Bogart) determined to set up bars and saloons in the area. Meanwhile, Sothern’s black sheep son — known as the “Oklahoma Kid” (James Cagney) — arrives in town and quickly becomes involved in retribution against Bogart’s murderous gang, as well as romance with the daughter (Rosemary Lane) of the local judge (Donald Crisp).

Genres:

Review:
Following their co-starring roles in Angels With Dirty Faces (1938), James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart were re-paired in this western (Cagney’s first), in which Cagney’s character embodies some refreshingly progressive notions regarding white settlement of the land:

Cagney: Now, look. In the first place, the White people steal the land of the Indians, right?
Crisp: They get paid for it right?
Cagney: Paid for it? Yeah. A measly dollar and forty cents an acre, price agreed to at the point of a gun.

The storyline itself is a fairly standard western tale of corruption and revenge, with a minor romantic triangle thrown in for good measure (Lane is formally partnered with Stephens). However, it’s nicely shot by DP James Wong Howe, and features some effectively shot action sequences, making it worth a one-time look.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • James Cagney as the Oklahoma Kid
  • James Wong Howe’s cinematography
  • Some fine action sequences

Must See?
No, though it’s worth a look.

Links:

One Response to “Oklahoma Kid, The (1939)”

  1. First viewing. Not must-see.

    In agreement that it’s “a fairly standard western tale of corruption and revenge”. Frankly, it’s a little too standard. Even with Cagney and Bogart in the leads, overall it gets to be tiresome.

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