“I never knowed any woman could shoot good enough to join this outfit.”
When touring in the Wild West Show run by Buffalo Bill (Moroni Olson), backwoods sharpshooter Annie Oakley (Barbara Stanwyck) and her performance partner (Preston Foster) fall in love while maintaining a facade of friendly rivalry.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Barbara Stanwyck Films
- George Stevens Films
- Melvyn Douglas Films
- Preston Foster Films
- Strong Females
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary begins his review of director George Stevens’ romantic biopic by noting that “Barbara Stanwyck is fine as a good-hearted, unpretentious backwoods girl who joins Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show because of her love for Preston Foster, a rival sharpshooter”. He argues that the “most interesting and enlightening aspect of the film is that Foster, once full of conceit, is willing to accept that Stanwyck is the better shot”, and is ultimately “supportive of her rather than being jealous or competitive”; this slant to the storyline makes it more akin to A Star is Born than to the musical it directly inspired, Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun (which posits Oakley and her love interest as perpetually at rivalrous odds with one another). Peary points out that Annie Oakley “looks dated and suffers considerably from the overuse of studio sets that give it [a] phony and claustrophobic feel”, but I wasn’t all that bothered by this, especially since the Wild West Show itself was very much a “staged” production, and there’s a sense of authenticity to its re-creation here. While it’s not must-see viewing, this one will surely be of interest to fans of Stanwyck, and is worth a one-time look by all film fanatics.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Barbara Stanwyck as Annie Oakley
- Preston Foster as Toby Walker
- A fine recreation of the immensely popular Wild West Show
No, but it’s recommended for Stanwyck’s performance.