Friday, October 10, 2008

Tulsa (Rhoades)

Movie Madness Gushes Over ‘Tulsa’

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Not long ago Rick Dreys and his director and producer were bantering back and forth, trying to decide which bad film to show for the next taping of Rick’s Midnight Movie Madness, an event which takes place on the second Friday of each month at the Tropic Cinema and is then replayed on local WGAY-TV.

Film candidates varied from “Planet of the Prehistoric Women,” a sci-fi farce starring MM-wannabe Mamie Van Doren, to “Tulsa,” a (mid)western melodrama starring fiery Susan Hayward.

Seems that “Tulsa” won the toss – and will be shown tonight from 10 to midnight. And you and your friends can attend the taping, becoming in effect the TV program’s raucous back-talking studio audience.

But most of the wisecracks will be coming from Rick, as he sits on the edge of the stage in a comfortable plush theater seat, a table nearby to hold his stash of bottled water and Reece’s Pieces.

“Tulsa” (1949) is a tale about oil wildcatters during the early days of Oklahoma’s boom. After a villainous oil company is involved in her father’s death, Cherokee “Cherry” Lansing (Susan Hayward) decides to bring in her own wells and she calls on petroleum expert Brad Brady (Robert Preston) and childhood pal Jim Redbird (Pedro Armendáriz) for help. The film offers plenty of black gold gushing up from the ground and numerous clashes with the nefarious Tanner Oil Company.

Believe it or not, this film has an underlying message about conservation of our oil resources, a sentiment well ahead of its time. And it’s more than a mindless action yarn, with the plot built around our star’s conflict: starting off to avenge her dad’s death, but in the end becoming the personification of greed that she’d set out to oppose.

Susan Hayward – an actress known to friends as “Red” due to her flaming tresses – looks great in Technicolor. Alas, although she later won an Oscar for “I Want to Live,” you’ll find little evidence of such talent in this overblown melodrama.

Robert Preston provides one corner of a love quadrangle – with him, the Indian friend, and the oil baron all vying for Red’s affection. Preston would later star in “The Music Man,” a musical about a charlatan who promises a town he can teach their children to play in a band.

And although you may not recognize his name, co-star Pedro Armendáriz appeared in some 100-plus films, including 007’s “From Russia With Love.”

Chill Wills (later the voice of Francis the Talking Mule) serves as the film’s narrator, offering up an “aw shucks” Will Rogers impression.

Director Stuart’s other films included “The Glass Key” with Alan Ladd, “Along Came Jones” with Gary Cooper, and “Tokyo Joe” with Humphrey Bogart – but his career ended with him working mainly on TV shows.

“Tulsa” itself ends with a spectacular oil field fire. The film received an Oscar nod for its special effects, but lost out to the giant ape adventure, “Mighty Joe Young.”
In these tough economic times – with Exxon Mobil posting windfall profits and gasoline costing north of $4.00 a gallon – oil companies make a perfect villain.

Rick is sure to pick up on that fact as he delivers his typically high-octane comments to accompany tonight’s “Tulsa” showing.
[from Solares Hill]

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