War of the Wildcats

War of the Wildcats Front Cover DVD
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War of the Wildcats Back Cover DVD
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War of the Wildcats stars John Wayne as cowboy Dan Somers, who in 1906 Oklahoma hitches a ride aboard the private train car belonging to oil magnate Jim Gardner (Albert Dekker). Gardner, at that moment, is trying to seduce Catherine Allen (Martha Scott), a schoolteacher moving out west following the notoriety of the salacious romance novel she's written.

In Sepulpa, Gardner ostentatiously throws his weight around, threatening a farmer (Byron Foulger) he cheated out of his oil-rich land. Gardner is anxious to further expand his empire into Indian land, but when pressed Dan warns Chief Big Tree (Robert Warwick) that Gardner's 12.5 percent royalty offer is a "sucker's deal." Instead, the Native Americans offer Dan the oil-drilling lease on their land. He's reluctant, but the townsfolk, including old-timer "Desprit" Dean (George "Gabby" Hayes) and alcoholic driller Rich Richardson (Grant Withers), fed up with Gardner's unfair business practices, urge Dan to take on the job.

In Washington, President Teddy Roosevelt (Sidney Blackmer) surprises all by personally approving Dan's four-month lease, Dan had served in his Rough Riders. Nevertheless, Gardner will be granted the lease if Dan's unable to deliver within that timeframe. Gardner's personal assistant, the Cherokee Kid (Paul Fix), goes to work for Dan but clearly is up to no good. The whole drilling works spectacularly explodes, leaving Dan and his crew sitting on a fortune in oil with no way to reach it. What can they do?

The novelty of the 1906 setting is interesting, with Dan and Desprit very much 19th-century cowboys while Gardner, symbolizing burgeoning technologies and corporate greed, drives an early automobile. The plot turns on oil, which virtually overnight will radically and permanently alter the Western landscape. Around the drill site Catherine exclaims, "It smells of life and love and freedom!" "Well," replies Dan, "to me it just smells."

Martha Scott, best remembered today as Charlton Heston's mother in both The Ten Commandments (1956) and Ben-Hur (1959), and J.R. Ewings mother-in-law in TVs Dallas. The movie's strong supporting cast, especially the welcome presence of Gabby Hayes, Marjorie Rambeau, Grant Withers, Paul Fix and Dale Evans in an early role as a dance hall performer.


John Wayne as Dan Somers
Martha Scott as Catherine Allen
Albert Dekker as Jim Gardner
George 'Gabby' Hayes as Desprit Dean
Marjorie Rambeau as Bessie Baxter
Grant Withers as Rich Richardson
Paul Fix as Cherokee Kid
Sidney Blackmer as Teddy Roosevelt
Byron Foulger as Wilkins
Dale Evans as Cuddles Walker
Stanley Andrews as Mason - Indian Agent
Robert Warwick as Chief Big Tree
Harry Woods as Al Dalton
Will Wright as Doctor
Charles Arnt as Joe - Train Conductor

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