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Annie Oakley
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Reviews & Ratings for
Annie Oakley More at IMDbPro »

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50 out of 55 people found the following review useful:

OAKLEY AND STANWYCK BOTH BIGGER THAN LIFE

9/10
Author: gary renfield (gary_renfield@email.com) from NEW JERSEY, USA
13 August 1999

I've always loved Annie Oakley. I've always loved Barbara Stanwyck too. I'm sure one is related to the other. This used to be one of those old, mid-morning movies that was shown fairly often. If you stayed home from school, (ahem) SICK, you got to see it. Cowboys, Indians, Buffalo Bill, his Wild West Show, sharpshooting, a (yucky) love story, and the charming and beautiful Barbara Stanwyck. Hmmm, what a way to recover enough to return to school!!! Barbara Stanwyck was a liberated woman playing liberated roles long before it was in vogue.

Great license is taken with history, but this film was made when heroes were bigger than life and legend ruled. It's a nicely told story, tracing the life of a young girl, from the backwoods to a life of world-wide celebrity (yes, and love too). "Annie's" skills were real, but she had lots of help learning "showmanship". There are a lot of funny moments, warm moments, and selfless (O Henry type) acts. These "flesh" out the story and lead you right into a joyous ending. (AIN'T LOVE GRAND!)

Very nicely done, it will please "new" audiences and old-timers alike. The younger crowd should especially like "Annie Oakley". They don't make movies like this anymore. It's a fitting tribute to Annie Oakley, American legend, and folk hero.....

PS--- I gave this a 9 out of 10 rating. I was tempted to give it a 10, after all, it was made in 1935 and is still good....

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35 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

Stanwyck Good Choice For The Role

8/10
Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
27 November 2006

Barbara Stanwyck, as I have mentioned in other reviews, was a tough woman but a likable one, at least with me. I don't normally go for those tough dames but her voice and personality she brought to a lot of roles always attracted me. A case in point was this movie. I doubt if another actress would have made this a better-than-average film, which Stanwyck did.

Preston Foster's character in here, meanwhile, undergoes one of the fastest transformations I've ever seen on film, from arrogant pig to very likable good guy in no time at all. In fact, he turned out to be such a good guy that parts of this film, where "Toby Walker" was wronged, are difficult to watch.

There's a little humor also thrown in this western, mainly involving "Sitting Bull." It's been a long time since I've seen this film but I would definitely watch it again if it came out on DVD.

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18 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Little Sure Shot Gets Her Man

7/10
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
25 March 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Annie Oakley (1860-1926)born in dire poverty and without spending one day in a school room, became one of the great feminist icons of all time. Talk about taking a man on in his game and beating him. It was not press agent ballyhoo about her prowess as a rifle shot. This romanticized biographical film captures the essence of her character and her love for the guy she dethroned as shooting champion.

In some spots of the film you can practically drop the songs that Irving Berlin was later to write for his hit show about Annie. But we get a different picture of Frank Butler than in Annie Get Your Gun. Butler is not even Butler, he's Toby Wheeler as played by Preston Foster. He's a kid from the mean streets of New York City who learned his sharpshooting in the shooting galleries on the Bowery. He doesn't near and endear himself to the westerners working at Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. In fact they hate Foster so much that whatever qualms they had about Annie being a member of the female sex the crew gets over real fast.

Barbara Stanwyck captures the real Annie if not in height in spirit. The real Ms. Oakley was barely five feet tall, but by all accounts she was a modest retiring type who never forgot where she came from. She was not as raucous as Ethel Merman on stage and later Betty Hutton on screen portrayed her. She let her shooting speak for her.

Melvyn Douglas has the third lead as William F. Cody's business partner Jeff Hogarth. Melvyn usually lost the girl to bigger name players though he was always a gentleman as he is here. Personally I wish he had done better in this film especially.

Annie Oakley is a nice film, not as well known as the musical later derived from her life, but still easy to take with good players at their best.

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Great fun even if the film is mostly fiction

8/10
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
15 March 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

While I am a history teacher and my friends and family HATE watching historical films with me because I often find fault with the way movies often handle the facts in a fast and loose manner, I still managed to like this film and kept my mouth shut about its many inaccuracies! Part of this is because when I watched the film I didn't know that much about Annie Oakley and another was because I was having too much fun to complain. I spotted a few errors but in researching more about her after the film was over, I found that most of the film was fiction. Despite this, I still am not complaining because I liked the film so much plus Miss Oakley is a rather mythic figure already and little impact on history (though she did a lot for women's rights--at least indirectly).

It's interesting that Oakley (Barbara Stanwyck) is not the sole focus of the film. It's much more of an ensemble film and the movie is not about her entire life--just one small fictionalized portion involving her falling in love with another sharp shooter. Now the facts and the fiction aren't all that different in a few key ways, so it's obvious that the facts did at least inspire the film. According to the film, Toby Walker (Preston Foster) is acknowledged as the world's greatest shooter. However, when a contest is arranged with an unknown local girl (Oakley), she allows him to win but is invited to join Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show as a featured star. Then, her budding love for Toby is hidden by her and Toby so that they can foster a publicity campaign that they are rivals. In reality, the real sharpshooter was Francis "Frank" E. Butler and Oakley beat him during this shoot-off. However, they did marry and they did travel with Buffalo Bill, though they first traveled with a different and less famous show. The romance, at least the way the film portrayed it, is pretty bogus.

Another bogus aspect of the film is the involvement of Sitting Bull. While he did apparently know Miss Oakley and did nickname her "Little Sure Shot", he was only with the show a few months. Sadly, almost all the wonderful scenes featuring him in the film didn't happen and it's too bad, as he was the best character in the film! For an American Indian in the 1930s, this portrayal was amazingly sensitive and showed him as a rather decent and clever guy.

There's a lot more to the film that is bogus, but as I said the film is so well written and fun, I found myself uncharacteristically NOT complaining as the truth wasn't quite as fun and exciting as fiction. A lovely film thanks to good but distorted writing, excellent acting and brisk direction.

Interesting facts: Andy Clyde plays the hotel owner. In the 1920s, he was a big silent comedy star as well as director and writer. Also, Pert Kelton plays the lady who likes Toby at the beginning of the film. She was the first 'Alice Kramden' in the Honeymooner's segments of "The Jackie Gleason Show".

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12 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Stanwyck looks great in this semi-biographical pic

7/10
Author: smatysia (feldene@comcast.net) from Houston
30 May 2010

A decent Thirties era melodrama loosely based on the life of Annie Oakley. I looked into Oakley a bit after seeing this film, and her life has been highly fictionalized. Oakley was a bit of a feminist for her day, and that did come through a little bit in the film. (Rational feminism, not the semi-nutty political feminism of recent decades) Barbara Stanwyck did a jam-up job playing the backwoods girl, and looked awesome doing it. (of course) Oakley, for all her talent, was a bit deficient in the hotness factor. But, hey this is a movie.

The film heavily featured Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, and I wonder a bit how close they were to accuracy on that. After all the show was still in living memory when this movie was filmed. No buffalo were shown, although they were alluded to once. I suppose they were very scarce in those days.

Anyway, I liked the film more than I expected to. Check it out.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

"I bet at fifty yards, she could shoot the eye out of a bumble bee".

7/10
Author: classicsoncall from United States
18 June 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was intrigued by the opening narrative introducing the story as it paid tribute to Annie Oakley, a legend who made her mark a 'half century' ago. Here it is more than seventy years since the film was made, and it still holds up as an entertaining if highly fictional Western based on the life of the sure shot artist and her days with Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show.

Though Barbara Stanwyck is best know for her role as Victoria Barkley, matriarch of 'The Big Valley' TV Western family, it's easy to see how she naturally fit in with the Western genre as she raises her rifle to knock clay pigeons out of the sky. Historically, I'm not sure if it would have gone down that way, but Annie admitting she didn't have the heart to beat Toby Walker in the shooting contest because he was 'just too pretty', was a neat way to set up the rest of the story.

What adds a lot to the film in entertainment value are the humorous bits thrown in by a host of characters. I was surprised to see Willie Best as the second cook attempting to pilfer a quail for himself early in the picture, while Andy Clyde worked his expressive face for maximum effect as hotel owner MacIvor. The best though, was Chief Thunder Bird in his characterization of Sitting Bull; he had a couple of clever bits with the disappearing bed and the 'scalping' scene. I don't think the real Sitting Bull would have been as amusing, but it works here.

At the center of the story is the subtle hint of a romance on the part of Annie's manager Hogarth (Melvyn Douglas), and a more overt one between Annie and her big top rival, Toby Walker (Preston Foster). Toby starts out the story as the guy you want to hate, but manages to come through the story as a decent guy. The film's abrupt finish with Toby and Annie in warm embrace is the kind of ending that I'm sure made movie goers of the era believe they got their money's worth.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Nicely cast, many wonderful moments, but dripping with sentimentality...

6/10
Author: moonspinner55 from las vegas, nv
6 April 2010

George Stevens directs this biography on the early career of sharp-shooter Annie Oakley as if it were a star-crossed lovers' tale, replete with heartache and self-sacrifice. Backwoods girl from Ohio in the 1890s enters a shooting contest against world's champion Toby Walker and nearly beats him; this leads to a co-starring spot in Buffalo Bill's traveling western show, where the primrose gal becomes a star and falls in love with competitor Walker. Barbara Stanwyck was born to play Annie Oakley, yet her performance isn't the raucous hoot one might expect (this is director Stevens' fault, who lingers on Annie's sympathy and compassion for others so long, it makes her seem like a bleeding-heart). Still, Stanwyck is the reason to watch, and she's best in the film's first-half--when Annie still has a little gumshun in her and playful self-assurance. Stevens seems more interested in the budding love story between Oakley and Walker than in creating an actual document of Oakley's colorful life (which we are told at the start was stranger than any fiction). Certainly a good try, with funny bits of business happening along the sidelines and plenty of blustery character actors in support. **1/2 from ****

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Frank Butler becomes Toby Walker.

10/10
Author: Anita de Acosta Keith (g_keith@sbcglobal.net) from Columbus, Ohio USA
31 May 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

My observations: Fascinating movie. Barbara plays a teenager well. Characters from Ohio (our state) portrayed a lot as ignorant, backward, illiterate, and in current times we are referred to as "that state with no indoor plumbing". Indeed! What happened to Frank Butler? He was a real guy, and Annie's husband IRL, but here he is Toby Walker??? The actor plays him as smug, indifferent, hotheaded, famous, kindly and then washed-up. When Annie IRL died in 1926, Frank died 18 days later from starving himself to death over his grief. In this movie, Annie had other admirers such as Buffalo Bill and Chief Sitting Bull; they actually worship and adore her. Bull driving the carriage at lightning speed to rescue Annie was incredibly hilarious and enjoyable. I loved Annie's outfits when she became famous. They were quite flattering, along with the big hats. Buffalo Bill was kindly and thoughtful. Annie was heartfelt, caring and loving to her family.

For the detractors: Yada, yada. We know that film biographies may not be true to reality. Human sins are whitewashed in order to sell tickets. Situations and instances are selected or written anew in order to make continuity and interest on the part of the audience. Sometimes the movie stars are more glamorous than the real people whom they portray. Sometimes the movie stars have better teeth and physiques. The movie stars even have publicity agents, lawyers, makeup artists and percentage deals. Buffalo Bill himself, IRL, was bigger than life, an invented persona if there ever was one.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

RKO hits the target with Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill

9/10
Author: SimonJack from United States
19 November 2013

Other reviewers have noted the fictional aspects of much of this film. The most significant of note are that Oakley wasn't Annie Oakley's real name, but chosen later as a stage name; and that she was married early on to Frank Butler, whose name and character were changed substantially to Toby Walker. Of course, the latter plays out in much of the film, so it may give the impression that the whole movie is fiction. But most of the incidents that take place – Annie's marksmanship, her hunting prowess, her time with Buffalo Bill, the European tours, her shooting a cigarette held in his mouth by the Austrian arch-duke – all happened. So, there's little point in further criticism of Hollywood license.

In the early part of the film, it struck me that Barbara Stanwyck was a bit too demure in the title role. I got used to the persona as the film progressed, yet I still felt there was a stiffness in her portrayal. But, after watching the movie I read some of the biography of Annie Oakley (nee Phoebe Ann Moses). She was a reserved person in real life – very polite, kind and proper. She was born in rural Ohio to Quaker parents. She lost her father when she was six, and spent several years in abusive foster homes. At age 12, she was reunited with her mother and siblings. Beginning at about age 8, she taught herself to shoot game, and that helped support her family for many years. She was very respectful of other people, and endeared herself to Buffalo Bill and many of the cast of his famous Wild West Show (the "Show" was added later).

While Hollywood completely remade her love life in this film, Oakley did have a long, lasting love with fellow sharp-shooter Frank Butler, whom she married in 1876. She was just 16 and had recently beaten Butler in a shooting contest in the 25th round. The couple began performing in shows and that's when Oakley chose her stage name. When she was 25, the couple joined Buffalo Bill in his Wild West show.

So, Stanwyck's portrayal of the persona of Annie Oakley seems right on target. All the rest of the cast do banner jobs in their roles in this film. And the direction, cinematography and other technical aspects are all excellent.

I give this movie a plus for historical value in showing us a considerable display of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. Or at least, what much of it must have looked like. I don't think another film has been made that shows this much of that great historical treasure of America's past. The fact that RKO put this much of a show together for its script is quite impressive, I think. Especially for 1935. Other films have been made about Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley and the West, with some reference to the Wild West Show. But no other film gives us such an extended look at what it must have been like.

One last note that viewers may find of interest. From the mid-1880s until 1911, Buffalo Bill Cody owned and lived on a 4,000-acre ranch, that he called the Scout Rest Ranch, just outside North Platte, Nebraska. As the name implies, his show put up and rested there between its tours. It also was a working ranch where Buffalo Bill raised some of the blood stock for his shows. Today, 25 acres of the original ranch are preserved as a working history state park near North Platte, NE. Cody's huge Victorian house still stands, as well as his custom-designed barn. The barn was used in photos to promote his shows. It is 148 feet long, 70 feet wide and 40 feet high. Travelers can tour the park and facilities. It's just minutes off Interstate 80 at North Platte.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Surprisingly enjoyable bio pic

7/10
Author: vincentlynch-moonoi from United States
5 July 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's only recently that I fully began to appreciate the talents of Barbara Stanwyck. Her peak was a little before my time, but I remembered her well from "The Big Valley", where she was always billed as Miss Barbara Stanwyck.

This film is both very good in terms of entertainment, and although liberties have been taken (particularly at the end of the film), they get the basic bio of Annie Oakley down reasonably well. And, you'll get a decent idea of what a Buffalo Bill Wild West Show was like. The details, well, of course, this is a movie bio.

Barbara Stanwyck is great here! A class act all the way. Preston Foster, as the love interest, is never one of my favorites, but does quite nicely here. Melvyn Douglas, who also loves Annie, is very good in this part. Moroni Olsen, a wonderful actor, is terrific here as Buffalo Bill.

This is a very enjoyable movie. Not one of the greats, but it's difficult not to just sit back and enjoy yourself.

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