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Buddies Big John McMasters and Square John Sand are fast-talking, wisecracking wildcatters who manage to con enough equipment and capital to develop their own oil fields, but their friendship is put to the test when Big John inadvertently falls in love with Elizabeth, Square John's longtime girlfriend. Eventually their friendship and partnership comes to an end on the flip of a coin. Years later, when Big John's interest in the beautiful Karen Vanmeer threatens his marriage too, Square John intervenes in an effort to save the marriage of his former friend - even if it means ruining him financially. Written by
G. Taverney (email@example.com)
This movie doesn't let up, as it journeys from Texas oil fields to Latin America to New York City to Oklahoma. Its characters go from rich to poor in what seems like a blink of the eye. As the main characters, Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy are in top form, and still young enough looking in 1940 to play oil wildcatters. The ladies, Claudette Colbert and Hedy Lamarr, play more complex than usual women for this kind of film, as their motivations at all times make sense even if one doesn't care for them.
Boom Town isn't an easy movie to categorize. I guess you'd call it an adventure, though it has a good deal of drama, some of it serious, and the actors bring a rare sincerity to their roles. Gable is livelier and seems happier here than I've ever seen him. Tracy, never a cheerful sort, is as near to a happy camper as he can be.
Jack Conway wasn't usually regarded as a director of the first rank even by his studio, does a fine job of keeping things moving at a swift pace. Yet he knows how to slow things down, too, so that one can catch a real glimpse of a small western city or an oil field. The script, by John Lee Mahin and James Edward Grant, does not for a minute seriously question the motivations or morals of the main characters, and this could be classified as a conservative adventure film or a Republican epic. Whatever. It's well enough done to satisfy even the most persnickety liberal.
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