Eastern lawyer Sam Houston moves to Texas. At the request of President Jackson, he leads the Texan independence movement and wins the decisive battle against the Mexican army to gain Texas independence.
In 1865, three escaped Confederate POWs are coerced into joining an offshoot of Quantrill's raiders who are planning to rob a Union gold shipment concealed in a civilian wagon train going from Santa Fe to St. Louis.
In 1870, Dr. John Brighton and his wife Louise are on a wagon train heading for California.When they reach Oklahoma Territory, Louise dies during childbirth but her baby girl survives. Louise is buried in the nearby town of Cherokee Wells where her distraught husband decides to remain and practice medicine. He receives room and board from elderly widow Mrs. Fitzgerald, who also offers to help rear Dr.Brighton's child. Despite the town being a peaceful one, wealthy rancher Cass Dobie and his brother Mel stir up trouble.When the two brothers don't like a rival cattleman they undercut his price to try to force him out of business. Cass has secretly discovered oil on the land of his native neighbor, Charlie Smith. Oil is a relatively new commodity and few people know what it looks like or what it's worth. Cass Dobie offers to buy Charlie's land but when Charlie refuses to sell, Dobie threatens him. Dr. John Brighton finds himself involved in this feud and the town's racial divide because ...Written by
The Oklahoman is directed by Francis Lyon and written by Daniel Ullman. It stars Joel McCRea, Barbara Hale, Brad Dexter, Gloria Talbott, Michael Pate, Verna Felton and Douglas Dick. Music is by Hans Salter and cinematography by Carl Guthrie.
After his wife dies during childbirth, Doctor John Brighton (McCrea) stops in the small Oklahoma town of Cherokee Wells to bury her. Deciding to stay there and start a practice, he comes to run afoul of the local bad boys fronted by the Dobie brothers (Dexter/Dick).
A CinemaScope/De Luxe Color production, The Oklahoman appears to be one of McCrea's lesser known Westerns. Which is a shame, for although this isn't high on action quotas, it is however rich on characters and beats a solid worthy message heart. It's a typical McCrea characterisation, Doctor Brighton is a peaceable man, a bastion of the community, loved by all but the baddies. As the stench of racism rears its ugly head, and a secret of the land comes to the fore, Brighton is forced to stand up for values that he knows to be right, putting himself into great danger in the process.
The Native American characters are well written, showing them to be hard working and integral parts of the community. This is a town where integration clearly works, it's only when financial gain for the Dobie Brothers surfaces does race become an issue. There's a rather fanciful (sort of) love triangle in the mix, as both the Hale and Talbott (playing a young Indian character) have soft feelings for the much older doctor, but this aspect is no hindrance to the pic since it isn't overtly played. Over on the villain side of things Dexter does a nice line in gurning mistrust, and thankfully he doesn't shift into cartoon caricature.
It's not a very insightful picture, as per the themes ticking away, this is after all a second tier "B" Western. Yet some classy veneers shine bright as our characters move about the comforting surrounds of the Iverson Ranch locales. While of course McCrea is the most reassuring presence of all. 7/10
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