In Old Oklahoma (1943) Poster

User Reviews

Add a Review
20 ReviewsOrdered By: Helpfulness
6/10
Wayne does light comedy
Marlburian12 December 2006
A lesser entry in the John Wayne canon, but not without interest. I thought Duke did quite well with the light comedy in the first part of the film before getting tough later on. And he looks as good as he ever did.

I liked the opening scene as the camera panned along the train interior catching the comments of the passengers - including, I'm sure, Guinn "Big Boy" Williams who had a few words to say, though the film doesn't appear in his filmography on this site or in Quinlan.

Albert Dekker is quite a likable villain, and, for the era in which the film was made, it's quite clear what his intentions are towards Martha Scott; the innuendo is strong, and in the hotel she even looks into the room adjoining hers and gasps when she spots the bed where he wants her to end up.

I'm a bit dubious about the total oil capacity of the various wagons at the end of the film and how easily some of the explosions occurred, but the sequence is quite a novel one. And the period - very early 20th century - is an interesting one, with the film making several allusions to the new life-style that will be made possible by oil.

Apparently Rhonda Fleming is in the chorus line in her very first film, and Gabby Hayes isn't too annoying in his customary old coot/sidekick role.
10 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
Gem of a John Wayne Film
robjdelaney20 November 2003
This a John Wayne film like no other. Take it from a huge fan that's seen most of his movies. Although this not classified as a comedy, the Duke's turns in a sly performance full of great one-liners and facial expressions that had me rolling. Its action adventure in the oil fields and it's very entertaining and fun. Wayne is Cowboy Dan Somers and he competes with oilman Jim Gardner for oil lease rights on Indian land in Oklahoma, as well as for the attentions of schoolteacher turned scandalous book author Cathy Allen. It has a good supporting cast including George "Gabby" Hayes. You will never see the Duke quite like this in any other role. If you're a fan of the Duke, you will love this film. It was originally titled "In Old Oklahoma" and then reissued as "War of the Wildcats".
15 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Fairly ordinary western with some interesting moments.
JoeytheBrit16 June 2008
One of Poverty Row studio Republic's intermittent big-budget efforts, War of the Wildcats is a lively, if fairly routine, western notable for its early 20th-century setting. Wayne plays Daniel F. Somers, formerly one of Teddy Roosevelt's rough riders, who finds himself entangled in a love-and-oil battle with Albert Dekker. Wayne is fairly amiable here, representing the old west and the little man forced to adapt in the face of modern technology and the dawn of big business. Dekker, of course, represents this future. He drives one of them new-fangled auto-mobeels and is erecting oil wells just as fast as he can. He is also dismissive of the native population – he even has one, a Cherokee, scrub his back as he takes a bath – while Wayne shows them respect and receives it in return. I'm not quite sure how that stacks up today, given our knowledge that the treatment of the native American by the old west fell somewhat short of what can be considered fair.

Anyway, possibly the best aspect of this film is that Dekker's character isn't portrayed as an out-and-out villain, driven only by greed. He is smart and relatively sophisticated, and also brave. Anyone who has ever had the experience of working with or for a 'captain of industry' (for want of a better term) or a self-made man, will probably recognise oilman Gardner's characteristics exactly as those that account for the success of these people. They aren't necessarily bad people, just ruthless enough to do whatever is necessary in pursuit of their goals.

Martha Scott is a fairly bland heroine – it's difficult to see why such rugged individuals as Somers and Gardner would both be so keen to bed her. Gardner's frankness in this matter is also refreshing given the times in which this film was made. He makes no secret of what he desires from Catherine and doesn't resort to any particular underhand tactics to make his desires come true. Of course, he doesn't succeed – it would be another quarter of a century before Hollywood would allow a character like Jim Gardiner to win the girl (and the oil).
7 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
The Duke Goes Wildcatting
bkoganbing25 January 2007
Spanish American War Veteran John Wayne hitches a ride on oil magnate Albert Dekker's private railroad car just as he's putting the moves on traveling school teacher Martha Scott. That sets off a rivalry between them both professional and personal as Wayne gets under Dekker's skin.

Dekker's the big kahuna in Oklahoma territory which would soon be admitted under President Theodore Roosevelt to the union. He's crowding a lot of the small operators out of the field and they see in Wayne a leader and savior.

Later on when Wayne and Dekker compete with the rival proposals for leasing Indian oil lands they go to the White House where Dekker thinks he's got an inside track with the Interior Department. This leads to one of the three best scenes in the film. It turns out that the Duke served in the Rough Riders. The reunion of Wayne and Sidney Blackmer as Theodore Roosevelt is pretty good, who'd have thought Wayne would have had the ultimate inside track.

Dale Evans is in the film, she has a brief role as a saloon entertainer and sings a couple of period songs. She had not yet met her future husband Roy Rogers on the Republic lot, but in fact she was more the westerner than he in real life. He was from a rural Ohio town and she was from Uvalde, Texas. Dale also sang with Anson Weeks band before coming west both literally and figuratively.

Martha Scott is a good crinolined heroine wooed by both Wayne and Dekker. You will also see Grant Withers in one of his few roles in which he wasn't a villain.

Second best scene in the film, John Wayne emptying his pistol into Paul Fix who played one of Dekker's henchmen who actually goes a bit too far because of his personal hatred for Wayne.

Third best scene, the climatic rush to deliver oil by covered wagons and tankers when Dekker buys the pipeline to fulfill the contract. The normally parsimonious Republic studio and its boss Herbert J. Yates broke the piggy bank to stage this one in what was obviously their big budget film of the year. Still plays quite well today.

This is one of John Wayne's better films of the forties. He's given good production values in this western and a perfect role for him. Fans of the eternal Duke should not miss this one.
9 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Move Over Texaco, The Duke Is Coming
dougdoepke6 October 2014
Plot-- Business tycoon Gardner wants drilling rights on Indian land and he'll use about every trick to get it. But he's up against the local little guys who've pooled their assets to get the same rights. Luckily they see in cowboy drifter Dan Somers a guy with the potential to lead them even if he doesn't see that potential himself. Plus, Dan and Gardner become rivals over the affections of winsome writer Catherine.

That climatic wagon stampede across the flat prairie still has me dizzy. Great action effect that must have employed every stuntman in Hollywood, to say nothing about every wagon. Now, if Dan (Wayne) doesn't get to the government office first, then the scheming Gardner (Dekker) gets the oil millions. Okay, so Dan's got an edge since the government man likes the ladies more than his duties. But, what great rivals Wayne and Dekker make. Each is an imposing presence, even if Wayne puts on his best "aw shucks" act, while Dekker keeps an icy calm. And I love it when they duel gimlet-eye to gimlet-eye. Still, sweet-face Martha Scott gets as much screen time as the guys, so likely Republic was trying to build her into a star. And, of course, where there's Wayne, Gabby Hayes can't be far behind, doing his unforgettable crusty old coot bit. And catch the pre-Roy Dale Evans bringing down the house with as charming a stage number as many an A-musical. No wonder Roy grabbed her.

All in all, it's a spectacular action flick, even if the romantic interludes get a little tiresome. Wayne sure shows his acting chops, more animated than I've seen him. His cowboy Dan goes from just another prairie drifter to hard-driving trail boss in really convincing fashion. And though he'd probably hate the word, he does it in what amounts to winning fashion. And catch that opening sequence in Gardner's private car. It's unusual and superbly done. Republic popped a bundle for this, and it shows up in the colorful crowd scenes (thanks to director Rogell) and big oil well gushers, along with that final stampede.

I'm not sure why this unusual oater is so obscure in the Wayne canon. But in my book it's as good entertainment as any of his many horse operas. And for fans of crashing buckboards, this is the Promised Land.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Not to be missed
jarrodmcdonald-130 July 2014
Two women, Ethel Hill and Eleanore Griffin, share screen writing credit for Republic's western adventure film WAR OF THE WILDCATTERS (known to some as IN OLD OKLAHOMA). A modestly budgeted endeavor, the story comes to life thanks in large part to a cast that includes John Wayne, Martha Scott, Albert Dekker, Gabby Hayes and Marjorie Rambeau. Wayne, from a different school of acting than the others, rises to the occasion and matches his costars with his own unique strength and performance. In addition to the acting, the motion picture benefits from extensive on-location shooting, which lends a degree of realism. Not to be missed-- there is an impressive moment when oil is struck and a huge gusher comes in.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
6/10
Oil. Land. And a woman or two.
Michael O'Keefe30 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Originally titled WAR OF THE WILDCATS. Rough and tough cowboy Dan Somers(John Wayne)battles a high and mighty land baron Jim Gardner(Albert Dekker)for not just land, but oil drilling rights around Sapulpa Oklahoma. Wayne as customary sides with the Native Americans in hopes of legally claiming, drilling and transporting the oil on their land. There is the obligatory romance to deal with thanks to Martha Scott. The eye popper is actually dance-hall girl Dale Evans. That's right! This vision of Miss Evans is...well...entertaining. Other cast members of this fast paced western: 'Gabby' Hayes, Paul Fix, Grant Withers and Sidney Blackmer as President Teddy Roosevelt. Real good black and white sagebrush tale. Pride, determination and fortitude...the Pioneer way.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
Good enough
SanteeFats11 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This is an earlier John Wayne movie. It is very well done. The good guy is of course John Wayne and the antagonist is played very well by Albert Dekker. Notice I say antagonist and not the bad guy. He is a ruthless businessman but that was the way it was back then, he has a softer side and unlike a lot of real bad guys of that time in the movies he has a bit of a conscious and treats his workers well. He and Wayne get in to a couple of knock down fights and they appear to have a mutual, all be it not a liking, for each other. Wayne has Indian connections in this one that lead to his being successful by the end of the movie. Of course he gets the girl too.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
Perhaps this is a B+ or A- film!
MartinHafer5 November 2011
This film is also very commonly known as "War of the Wildcats". As you watch it, the movie sure looks like a B--but with just a bit more polish, a bit longer running time and a bit more in the way of budget. This is because the film is sort of like a transitional film for Wayne. While he played in a ton of Bs during the 1930s, around 1939 (with "Stagecoach") he began playing in better and better films. But many of them looked a lot like Bs and felt a lot like Bs. His bigger budget studio projects were still a few years ahead.

The film begins with a feminist author (Martha Scott) leaving her tiny town. Apparently the local prudes were angry at her writing such a scandalous romance novel--and you get the impression that it really isn't THAT bad. In fact, it really can't be because Scott is a school teacher and never really lived a worldly life in this town. So, at the urging of the women, she is determined to see the world--and be more like one of her characters. But, she is conflicted and isn't quite sure where to go or what to do. Her dull old aunt wants her to live with her in Kansas City--but when she meets a big-time oil man (Albert Dekker), he convinces her to follow him to the oil fields and promises her wealth and excitement. There are two problems with this. First, Dekker is a bit of a pig and an ego-maniac. Second, John Wayne pops into her life--and back then he was a major hunk. And, since he was the star, it's not especially surprising where it all ends. In the middle portion of the film, Wayne and Dekker vie for power and fight over oil land that the Indians are willing to lease. But Dekker is determined not to play nicely--and seems willing to use some dirty tricks to make sure he alone gets these leases.

Overall, this is not an especially deep film nor is it very realistic. However, it is fun--and that is very important. Gabby Hayes and especially Marjorie Rambeau provide some fun support and color.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
John Wayne Channels 'Destry'
louis-king13 May 2006
John Wayne plays a cowboy who allows himself to be underestimated by wildcatter Albert Dekker. His 'aw shucks' manner like Jimmy Stewart in 'Destry Rides Again' masks a tough, intelligent character who rises to the challenge posed by Albert Dekker's Jim Gardner.

Part of what makes the movie interesting is that the villain, Jim Gardner, is not just a standard heavy. Yes, he's a ruthless businessman, single minded in his drive for success. On the other hand, he's competent and he's no coward. Early in the movie he arrives at one of his well sites and is told there's a mechanical problem. None of his workers seem able or willing to fix it. Disregarding his personal safety, he climbs a rope to the top of the well and fixes the problem.

He's also a close physical match for John Wayne's character, with two long fights. Like it or not, Gardner represents the kind of entrepreneur that built this country. You can't help having a grudging respect for him.

Wayne's Dan Somers has a populist outlook. At the sight of an oil well spouting oil, Martha Scott's Cathy Allen, gushes "It smells like a new day, like prosperity"; Somers replies, "To me it just smells".

Somers saves Gardner from getting shot by a disgruntled farmer, then prevents Gardner from beating up the farmer. Somers seems to represent a 'New Deal' philosophy.
3 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
Slam-Bang Rip-Roaring Action-Packed
Panamint22 September 2006
A good example of the old style Slam-Bang western movie. The race to the refinery is one of the most exciting movie endings ever. Wayne is great as he once again gives charisma to an ordinary western hero. Martha Scott is cute here but not "cutesy". Scott is sort of "Diva" cute in this movie and holds her own against the awesome Wayne. Albert Dekker is also on hand to deliver some good acting as an oily villain who is in the oil business.

The trip west on the train in this movie successfully evokes a sense of adventure that you once could experience traveling far west in the USA. Probably ended when the legendary Route 66 automobile road was deactivated.

Must reluctantly rate this "7" because unfortunately Old Slam-Bang also nowadays means dated. However, it is still a watchable, fun movie.
2 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
6/10
Great Race to the Refinery
bsmith555226 June 2001
"In Old Oklahoma" or "War of the Wildcats" (its re-release title), could have been one of Wayne's better 40s westerns. It is spoiled in the first half, by Wayne trying to do the light comedy thing in his romancing of Martha Scott. It just doesn't work. There is plenty of excitement in the second half including a good fight between Wayne and villain Albert Dekker and a race to the refinery wagon race at the film's climax.

Besides Wayne, Scott and Dekker, we have George "Gabby" Hayes, Grant Withers on the right side of the law, Sidney Blackmer as Teddy Roosevelt and saints preserve us, Miss squeaky clean Dale Evans playing a saloon showgirl of all things, little touchy and all. If you look closely in the railway car scenes at the beginning, you'll see "B" veterans Roy Barcroft, Lane Chandler and Tom London in bit parts.

Not bad, but could have been better.
2 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
SUPERB cast, story, dialogue, and Dale Evans as you've never seen her
Michael Morrison14 December 2017
Albert Dekker was one excellent actor, and in this movie shows he was an excellent action star as well.

He and the Duke have one of the fiercest fight scenes ever, yet the Dekker character is still ultimately likable even though he is a pretty rotten scoundrel.

Siding Duke is his frequent co-star, another excellent actor, George "Gabby" Hayes.

Also siding him, as the oil field manager, is a terribly unheralded actor, Grant Withers, as one of the strongest characters on the screen.

Martha Scott was one gorgeous and incredibly talented woman, to repeat, incredibly talented and apparently so recognized by her fellow actors. But, for some strange reason, she did not become that proverbial household name.

Watch her in this movie and you too will wonder why. She is adorable, and has a beautiful and extremely expressive face.

Speaking of adorable: Dale Evans became The Queen Of The Cowgirls, and as co-star and later wife of Roy Rogers, that is how we know her -- mostly. But in this movie she is also the sexy and delightful singer and dancer in the saloon-night club. And what a talent! That she became a major star later is a, these days, surprising and gratifying example of justice. Dale Evans had it all, beauty and talent and our hearts.

John Wayne gives one of his best performances, playing light comedy in much of the first half of the movie, and then his expected action hero thereafter.

And there is plenty of action, beautifully photographed by Jack Marta and beautifully directed by Albert S. Rogell. They make a good team and make this a wonderful film to watch.

And to listen to? Well, it has both Gabby Hayes and John Wayne singing -- not so pleasant, but funny.

The rest of the listening is very pleasant as two women script-writers, Ethel Hill and Eleanor Griffin, produce a superlative script from the original story by Thomson Burtis. Those three writers have created likable and believable characters who speak delightful and also believable dialogue.

Everything works together to produce for us an excellent motion picture experience, and you can see it at YouTube. I hope you do. This is a great movie.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
"Consarn yer dadblamed gasoline buggy!"
utgard1429 September 2017
I didn't expect much from this one but it's better than it has any right being. On the surface it looks like an ordinary, run-of-the-mill B western with cowboy John Wayne leading a revolt against greedy oil baron Albert Dekker. Oh and the obligatory pretty school teacher Martha Scott, who catches the eye of both Wayne and Dekker. But it's actually a fun little movie that captures your attention and never drags. Wayne and Dekker play their white hat/black hat parts well, and Scott is charming with a nice chemistry with Duke. Supporting cast features greats like Gabby Hayes, Marjorie Rambeau, and Paul Fix. And just wait until Teddy Roosevelt shows up. That was my favorite part.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
6/10
Likable John Wayne western with a real lightness of touch
Leofwine_draca14 April 2017
Warning: Spoilers
WAR OF THE WILDCATS is another black-and-white western of the early 1940s, starring the ever-likable John Wayne. This one's about land-grabbing and oil rights, featuring Wayne romancing a woman who is torn between his poor cowboy and a wealthy businessman who'll do anything to make a profit. The notable thing about this film is that it has a real lightness of touch that turns it into an out-and-out comedy in places.

Wayne shares plenty of repartee with the amusing and sparky Martha Scott and seems really comfortable with this fun and funny material. Albert Dekker's villain is better written than usual, being a fully-rounded character who is quite respectable and even engaging at times. The film has a fast pace and plenty of action, including an exciting large-scale chase and some good fights. It all feels very smooth and effortless.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
Oil baron vs. oil coop plus Indians
weezeralfalfa27 February 2017
Warning: Spoilers
One of several epic film stories about oil wildcatting released in the 1940s. I'm familiar with 3: the prior "Boomtown" and "Flowing Gold". and the later Tulsa". Each of these sports a gusher or two, and all except this one feature a spectacular oil field fire. While gushers provide dramatic evidence of a strike under high pressure, they aren't really what you want. They waste oil and contaminate the surrounding area, increase the risk of a fire, and , if offshore, will contaminate the marine environment.

The alternative title of "War of the Wildcats" correctly suggests competition to be king of the regional oil exploration and production businesses. Albert Dekker plays Jim Gardner: the established kingpin of the oil exploration business in Oklahoma, and an obvious candidate to be the chief villain in a fight with a consortium of small oil producers, farmers and Aboriginal Americans for a share of the riches. John Wayne, as Dan Somers, although lacking experience in oil exploration, is elected leader of the consortium. This turns out to be a fortuitous choice when the two go to Washington to plead their case before the president(T.R.). Although Gardner, with his vast experience and material advantages, might seem the overwhelming choice, Dan fought with the rough riders in Cuba, and T.R. remembers him. Also, Dan offers the Aboriginal Americans a 50% stake in the profits vs. Gardner's 12 1/2 %. T.R. wants to make sure the Aboriginal Americans get their fair share, thus decides in favor of the consortium. However, if they fail to deliver a given quantity of oil after 4 months, the concession will be transferred to Gardner, thus providing him with the incentive to impede their ability to deliver in time. Toward this end, Gardner buys the oil pipeline from this region to the Tulsa refinery, thus forcing the consortium to transport their oil in wooden tanker wagons and makeshift containers in wagons(Where did they all of a sudden get all of these wagons?).In addition, the Cherokee Kid, who sometimes works for Gardner, has his independent reason to want to sabotage the consortium's efforts.

As you might expect, a woman is also involved in the competition for oil rights. Martha Scott plays a schoolteacher and novelist from the east , who wants some experience living in the west. At first, she brushes off romantic overtures from the two men. But, eventually she is caught in a passionate kiss with Gardner out in the moonlight in a wilderness area. But, she then sharply changes her attitude, gets out of the buggy, and walks along the road until Wayne, in his buggy, picks her up. Seems something Gardner said led her to believe that his intention was for her to become his mistress, rather than wife, upsetting her.

Gardner's men try to sabotage the oil wagons by creating a sizable blaze out along the road. But, most of the wagons get through unscathed. Also, a pair of Gardner's men tinkered with some of the wagons, making them unhitch during their travels, wrecking quite a few. That mad dash to the refinery was the action highlight of the film.

Dale Evans leads a troupe of singer/dancers in a stage show in the saloon. Best remembered for her inclusion in the later TV series: The Roy Rogers Show, in her early career, she was mostly a singer.

John Wayne fans will want to see this superior Republic offering, featuring a rather young Wayne. Dekker provides a rather appealing villain, in most respects, except toward the end.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
John Wayne fights corrupt killers on Big Oil's payroll . . .
Edgar Allan Pooh31 March 2016
Warning: Spoilers
. . . following his first Tour of Duty in the Philippines (BACK TO BATAAN and THEY WERE EXPENDABLE were his subsequent Filipino forays). Big Oil tries to cheat the Native Americans IN OLD OKLAHOMA, but just as pharmacist Wayne gunned down all the would-be Gold Rush claim jumpers IN OLD CALIF0RNIA, cowboy Wayne guns down all the oil field saboteurs here. When the oil's not being pumped, Wayne finds time to fall for a lady novelist, just as he'd later do in WITHOUT RESERVATIONS. But despite this confluence of "old" states, Pacific TDY's, writer chicks, and reservations, the main focus here is on Oil Industry Shenanigans. We've all experienced these personally: Gas was 89 cents per gallon during the Clinton Presidency, and it was a same price--at least for awhile--with Obama in the White House. But when Oil Giant Enron bribed the U.S. Supreme Court Rich People Party "Justices" to appoint a patently Unconstitutional team of TWO Texas Oil Men Election LOSERS to our Highest Offices, the price of gas stayed North of $4 per gallon for Eight Longggg Years, as all Heck broke loose with 9-11, Katrina, Iraq, and Afghanistan murdering many thousands of Americans (who'd be alive Today if the Rich People's Party had not prevented Clinton from serving four terms in office, as did our great leader FDR). If Wayne had been around 15 years ago, no doubt he'd have gunned down all of these Oil Crooks!
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
4/10
War is a bit strong a word, more like scuffle of the wildcats.
Spikeopath23 February 2010
John Wayne & Albert Dekker compete for oil rights on Indian territory, and for the attention of Martha Scott in this Republic Pictures film shot out of Utah, USA.

An interesting Western of sorts due to its characters and its more modern setting, with Wayne & Dekker playing the old and new factions of the West. It's based on a story by Thomson Burtis who co-writes the script along with Eleanore Griffin and Ethel Hill. Albert Rogell directs in the workmanlike way that befits his career. A pretty mundane story is in truth saved by its final third, where thankfully the action picks up and we are treated to something resembling a pulse. The light hearted approach to the romantic strand doesn't sit quite right, and a glorious fist fight between the two protagonists is ruined by Rogell being unable to disguise the stunt men doing the work. But hey, stunt men deserve their moment of glory always. Solid support comes from George 'Gabby' Hayes and Wayne as usual has much screen charisma, particularly when rattling off his pistol. But in spite of its better than usual Republic budget, it remains a film of interest only to 1940s Wayne enthusiasts. 4/10
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Duke strikes oil....
gazzo-219 August 2000
Yer basic patriotic Western, made in WWII days, John Wayne is out Wildcatting in the old days, runs into corrupt rivals and fights over blonde Martha Scott with Albert Dekker and company...Gabby Hayes does his patented Walter Brennan knockoff and you get to see the standard Yakima Canutt stage and horse stunts along the way. Decent time filler, pretty much the type of thing you have seen a 100 times before, nothing special.

**1/2 outta ****
1 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
who are the wildcats?
Cristi_Ciopron15 March 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Rogell's 'War …', a sex comedy (until it switches to a rural drama and the characters sometimes get a bit sententious) replete with exciting love innuendo and genuinely good one-liners, has that ineffable uplifting quality known as zest, or gusto; very dynamic, at the twilight of the cherished West, when the land of the farmers, cowboys, Indians and wry coach-drivers becomes the land of the upcoming oilmen, a comedy of the later West, if you will (yet this typology is secondary here, as Jim behaves like the usual ruthless rich, regardless of the spring of his income), and not at all a screwball, because it's another genre altogether: a rivalry drama, well handled and flawlessly written on its own unassuming terms, the storyline remaining a look at love, and in this it's nicely written, and also well directed, by Rogell. When angered, the oilman looked like a saner Atwill; but he is not maligned as a villain (at least at first, up until the ride to Tulsa, then we get less certain about his even basic honor), but instead comes across as a genuinely limited person, naturally unable to understand what's outside the range of his daily life, and this seems reasonable. Martha Scott's character seems a bit dry, which she's supposed to be, and then her performance changes accordingly, as we get to know her, and she gets accustomed to her new place; but there's a minus: the schoolteacher is also a bit unlovable, a bit trite. This of course depends on what one is drawn to feel towards the actress herself and her character such as it is.

But then, who are the titular wildcats? It seems like not only the girl, but also her two rival pursuers are such wildcats. Dekker is annoying, as prescribed by the script, it's his job to look that.

Teddy R. is a cartoon. There are also villains, so that the community looks plausible.

'War of the Wildcats' is not a Western (and certainly not a kids' movie!), of course (Somers plays as an archetypal twilight cowboy, drifter, gunman, adventurer, eventually turned oilman and settled), but a blend of comedy and drama to be enjoyed by Western buffs.

There are a few twists, psychologically intriguing (Catherine's turns, even Jim's honor, up to his showing an uglier side of his soul). Jim comes across rather as a limited person, unable to understand the girl, not as a double-crosser; but then things change and, if he's cleared of the Cherokee misdeed, he becomes the handler of some really ugly schemes meant to derail the farmers' business. The ride to Tulsa was a romp.

The director, Rogell, knew his craft, his trade. Him, and Wayne, and most of the cast give this movie a pleasurable humane quality, also aided by the complexity of the script and by the production values, and the movie is charming, and even stylish in its way. Good movie.

The playful Wayne reminded me of Gibson in his comedy roles. And thank you for reading this, if you did.
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews