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Sunday, April 17, 2016

THE OKLAHOMAN (1957)

Forget the movie; enjoy the poster! This is one of those dull Westerns Joel McCrea made in the ’50s before a final return to form in Sam Peckinpah’s RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY/’62. The shame is that this little programmer holds a decent idea for an oater, but is done in by the dull megging of tv hack Francis D. Lyon. McCrea’s a widowed doctor, raising his young daughter in a growing Oklahoma town that needs strong leadership if it’s going to reach the next step in civilization. But when oil shows up on an Indian’s farm, and the town biggest landowner uses his posse to try and steal it away, someone’s gotta take a stand. If only McCrea’s motives weren’t under suspicion from that sexy Native American housekeeper he’s got in the house, young enough to be another daughter. She’s sure hit the jealousy nerve of well-to-do estate owner Barbara Hale, a proper lady who thought she had a clear path to the very available doc. Even with a brown hazy tinge on the print, this is not without some promise. Oh well, at least , Lyon does well by the final shoot-out.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: In ‘55, McCrea made a pair of these modest Westerns for director Jacques Tourneur (STRANGER ON HORSEBACK; WICHITA/’55). Not seen here, but Tourneur rarely misses.

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