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Remind Me

The Doolins of Oklahoma

Although he started his career playing handsome leading man roles, with the occasional action picture, Randolph Scott eventually became a major Western star, as important to the genre as John Wayne or Joel McCrea. By the late 40s, Scott was making westerns exclusively, thanks in large part to a partnership he had formed with veteran producer Harry Joe Brown. Under the production company banner Ranown, Scott found new success when other stars of his generation were beginning to dim. As a weathered, aging cowboy, he became one of the top box office draws of the 1950s, and his work with director Budd Boetticher during that period is critically important to the history of the genre and its recognition as cinematic art.

The Doolins of Oklahoma (1949), however, was made several years before his work with Boetticher. If the teaming with Gordon Douglas – a former actor who had cut his directorial teeth with "Our Gang" comedies and would go on to direct a wide variety of genre pictures – didn't yield any masterpieces, it nevertheless proved that Douglas and Scott knew how to turn out audience pleasing B movies. In addition to The Doolins of Oklahoma, the duo also scored a minor hit with The Nevadan (1950), before Scott moved on to more notable collaborations with first Andre De Toth and later Boetticher. In The Doolins of Oklahoma, as in many of his Westerns, Scott brings a touch of the rogue to his leading role as an outlaw trying to hang up his guns and turn to farming with his wife. When his old gang members resurface, Scott is drawn back into the life of a fugitive.

The character is based on the real-life Bill Doolin, an Oklahoma-based outlaw and founder of The Wild Bunch (no relation to the 1969 Sam Peckinpah film), a gang that engaged in robbing banks, trains and stagecoaches in the 1890s. Doolin, who had been a member of the infamous Dalton Gang when he was younger, never made any attempt to go straight, despite the revisionist portrayal of him presented in The Doolins of Oklahoma. When he was gunned down by a federal lawman in 1896, he was actually 13 years younger than Scott was when he played him on screen. Doolin turned up again as the lead character of The Cimarron Kid (1952) in the person of war-hero-turned-actor Audie Murphy, directed by Budd Boetticher four years before directing Scott in the first of their seven pictures together. Robert Armstrong also played Doolin in Return of the Badmen (1948) which pitted him against Randolph Scott as the local marshal.

Legendary stuntman Yakima Canutt handled the second unit on The Doolins of Oklahoma,"and between he and director Gordon Douglas they set up an impressive array of action scenes, including a great night-time chase through a narrow mountain passage with Scott and company eluding a posse (led by George Macready, playing a hero part for once) and an intense street shoot-out between the Doolins and the posse." (from The Films of Randolph Scott by Robert Nott). Jock Mahoney, who plays Tulsa Jack Blake in the film and later portrayed Tarzan in two movies, was reputedly the stunt double for Scott in The Doolins of Oklahoma.

Director: Gordon Douglas
Producer: Harry Joe Brown
Screenplay: Kenneth Gamet
Cinematography: Charles Lawton, Jr.
Editing: Charles Nelson
Art Direction: George Brooks
Original Music: George Duning, Paul Sawtel, Marlin Skiles (uncredited)
Cast: Randolph Scott (Bill Doolin), George Macready (Marshall Sam Hughes), Louise Allbritton (Rose of Cimarron), John Ireland (Bitter Creek), Noah Beery, Jr. (Little Bill).

by Rob Nixon