41 user 16 critic

Boom Town (1940)

Passed | | Adventure, Drama, Romance | 30 August 1940 (USA)
2:31 | Trailer
Two buddies who rise from fly-by-night wildcatters to oil tycoons over a twenty year period both love the same woman.


Jack Conway


John Lee Mahin (screen play), James Edward Grant (based on a story by)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Clark Gable ... Big John McMasters
Spencer Tracy ... Square John Sand
Claudette Colbert ... Betsy Bartlett
Hedy Lamarr ... Karen Vanmeer
Frank Morgan ... Luther Aldrich
Lionel Atwill ... Harry Compton
Chill Wills ... Harmony Jones
Marion Martin ... Whitey
Minna Gombell ... Spanish Eva
Joe Yule ... Ed Murphy
Horace Murphy ... Tom Murphy
Roy Gordon Roy Gordon ... McCreery
Richard Lane ... Ass't. District Attorney
Casey Johnson Casey Johnson ... Little Jack
Baby Quintanilla Baby Quintanilla ... Baby Jack


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 (duke1029@aol.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Devil may-care men fought for girls and gold See more »


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The only reteaming of Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert after their Oscar winning performances in It Happened One Night (1934). See more »


When Clark Gable rides the donkey at the rodeo he is holding a balloon. In the first wide shot the balloon is gone, but it reappears in the next close up. See more »


Karen Vanmeer: You're much younger than I thought you'd be.
Big John McMasters: What'd you expect, stranger? A bald head and a breadbasket?
Karen Vanmeer: Well, stranger, they told me you were an oil baron.
Big John McMasters: Is that the way they grow them back East?
Karen Vanmeer: In spite of all their steam baths.
See more »

Crazy Credits

[Opening title] This is the story of a hard driving breed of Americans - oil prospectors - "wildcatters". Made of the bone and blood of pioneers - men born of the lasting miracle that is America - they probed the Earth from early Pennsylvania to California's Kettleman Hills to bring forth America's greatest treasure, the life blood of today's world - oil! See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »


Featured in Clark Gable: Tall, Dark and Handsome (1996) See more »


Polly Wolly Doodle
Composer unknown
Played over the opening credits and as background
Sung and hummed at various times by Clark Gable, Chill Wills and Claudette Colbert
See more »

User Reviews

Big prewar MGM Production
20 December 2008 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Claudette Colbert and Hedy Lamarr star in "Boom Town," a 1940 film directed by Jack Conway. It's about wildcatters and friends, played by Gable and Tracy, who make money as partners, love the same woman, go their separate ways, reunite, all under the specter of oil rigs.

Gable has a role he owned, that of Big John, a tough guy, a man's man, kind of Rhett Butler goes wildcatting. Tracy is Jonathan Sand, his buddy, with a girl back home. Big John meets a lady and falls for her - except it's Sand's girlfriend Elizabeth (Colbert) who's just arrived in town. Well, she had to choose between Clark Gable, matinée idol, and Spencer Tracy, a character actor whose talent gave him leading man status. She chooses Big John. Sand accepts it as best he can. By now the two have struck oil and are in the big money. Eventually, Big John loses his part of the business to Sand, and he and Elizabeth leave the area in order to rebuild - and they do, big time. The couple end up in New York, where Big John meets a Big Beauty named Karen (Lamarr) and goes for her, threatening his marriage.

Everyone is very good in this absorbing movie, with Lamarr's knockout beauty a real asset. This is nothing against Colbert, who is stunning as well and excellent as Elizabeth. Gable and Tracy have good chemistry - in the end, this is really a buddy movie, and they're a good match. Gable is very sexy and at his peak here.

Very enjoyable, with great special effects - no expense spared for the four huge stars.

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Release Date:

30 August 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Boom Town See more »

Filming Locations:

Bakersfield, California, USA See more »


Box Office


$1,614,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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