Cast & Crew
At the turn of the century, young Annie Oakley leaves her backwoods home to challenge the handsome New York vaudeville sharpshooter, Toby Walker, to a shooting contest in Cincinnati. Unknown to Toby, Annie is a crack shot who stuns the crowd with her sure-handed marksmanship. Attracted to Toby, Annie deliberately loses the contest, but her skills are noticed by Jeff Hogarth, a partner in Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show, who convinces her to join the troupe as Toby's counterpart. After his initial skepticism, Cody and the others welcome Annie into the show. However, when Toby later overhears Cody questioning Annie's showmanship, he generously teaches her his shooting tricks, transforming her into such a star that during her first performance in Washington, D.C., she impresses Chief Sitting Bull into joining the troupe. Once polished, Annie bests the braggart Toby in the ring, which gives promoter Ned Buntline the idea of formalizing a feud between them. Although Toby confesses his love for Annie, he encourages her to play her part for the sake of the show. Soon after, while camped in Cincinnati, Toby saves Sitting Bull from an attack by a vengeful drunk but damages his eyesight in the process. Because he wants her to shine in front of her family, Toby says nothing about his eyes and ends up accidentally shooting Annie in the hand, an error that some of the troupe believes is deliberate and leads to his immediate dismissal. Although Annie makes a triumphant tour of Europe, she is unable to forget Toby, and when Hogarth, who also loves her, reluctantly shows her a newspaper article that vindicates Toby, she determines to find him. At the New York show, Sitting Bull spots Toby in the audience and, after a chase, returns Annie to his side.
John L. Cass
P. J. Faulkner Jr.
Joseph A. Fields
J. Roy Hunt
Van Nest Polglase
It's proof of how highly regarded Stevens was at RKO that his follow-up film was Annie Oakley (1935). A fictionalized life of the markswoman known as "Little Sure Shot," it's the story of backwoods girl whose remarkable skill with the rifle makes her the star of the flamboyant Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. The rivalry between Annie and fellow sharpshooter Toby Walker (Preston Foster) turns to love, and Annie also develops a strong friendship with another member of the troupe, Chief Sitting Bull.
The star was Barbara Stanwyck, an established leading lady with a string of successful films for such directors as Frank Capra and William Wellman. But Stanwyck had been unhappy with her recent films at Warner Brothers, and was once again freelancing. Annie Oakley was her first film for RKO, and her first-ever western. It was a genre which would become one of her favorites, both in feature films and in the long-running television series, The Big Valley. Annie Oakley was also George Stevens' first western. With Alice Adams he had proved how well he could handle Americana. Now he had the chance to portray historical, picturesque Americana, and he was up to the task, depicting the era with great style, and the meticulous attention to detail which would mark his later period films, like Shane (1953), and Giant (1956).
Critics were delighted that Stanwyck once again had a vehicle worthy of her talents. "It comes as a gratifying relief from the banal roles she has been required to fill heretofore," wrote Bland Johaneson in the New York Daily Mirror. Andre Sennwald of the New York Times also thought it was "her most striking performance in a long long time," and that the comedy of Sitting Bull coping with the problems of the white man's civilization "achieves a fine picaresque quality."
Decades later, critic Pauline Kael found that Annie Oakley holds up admirably, in sometimes surprising ways. Stanwyck, Kael wrote, is "consistently fresh and believable, and she brings a physical charge to the role. The film, directed by George Stevens, makes some of the points about race he made later in Giant, (and that Arthur Penn made in Little Big Man, 1970), but here they're lighter and better. They seem to grow casually out of the American material; the movie feels almost improvised."
Annie Oakley's success was also a personal one for Stanwyck and Stevens. Stanwyck was signed to nonexclusive contracts with both RKO and 20th Century Fox. Less than two years later, Stanwyck landed the role that would finally put her in the top ranks of female stars: Stella Dallas (1937). Stevens would spend the rest of the 1930's going from success to success, demonstrating his versatility with musicals (Swing Time, 1936), comedies (Vivacious Lady, 1938), and dramas (Gunga Din, 1939). It was a winning streak that would only be halted by his service in World War II.
The story of Annie Oakley would also prove durable. In 1946, it was the basis for Irving Berlin's smash Broadway musical, Annie Get Your Gun, starring Ethel Merman, and the film version of it starring Betty Hutton in 1948. Recent revivals have featured stars like Mary Martin, Bernadette Peters, and Reba McEntire. There was an Annie Oakley TV series in the early 1950s with Gail Davis. Barbara Stanwyck's Annie, less well-known, is also less broad, more faceted, and one of the actress's finest performances.
Director: George Stevens
Producer: Cliff Reid
Screenplay: Joel Sayre, John Twist, based on a story by Joseph A. Fields, Ewart Adamson
Editor: Jack Hively
Cinematography: J. Roy Hunt
Art Direction: Van Nest Polglase, Perry Ferguson
Music: Alberto Colombo
Principal Cast: Barbara Stanwyck (Annie Oakley), Preston Foster (Toby Walker), Melvyn Douglas (Jeff Hogarth), Moroni Olsen (Buffalo Bill), Pert Kelton (Vera Delmar), Andy Clyde (MacIvor), Chief Thunderbird (Sitting Bull).
BW-91m. Closed captioning.
by Margarita Landazuri
Oh, oh, that's not for ladies.- MacIvor
Oh, I'm no lady.- Vera Delmar
Pardon me, miss. This is a saloon.- First man
Oh, how cozy.- Vera Delmar
Well, I've lived for sixty years and that's the first time I ever saw a woman goin' into a saloon.- Second man
Perfume. Dang it, you smell like Happy Minnie's back in Omaha.- Rough Rider
Toby Walker, you're supposed to be a sharpshooter and you can't even see a woman gal under your own nose.- Vera Delmar
I can see anything I'm aiming at.- Toby Walker
The working title of this film, in which Stanwyck made her western movie debut, was Shooting Star. As depicted in the film, Annie Oakley, born Phoebe Anne Oakley Moses in 1860, was a markswoman who first toured circus and vaudeville circuits, and from 1885 to 1902 was a star attraction in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. Unlike the film's depiction, however, Oakley married in 1876. Her husband, Frank E. Butler, was a noted marksman who toured with her. For more information about Buffalo Bill Cody, please see the entry below for Buffalo Bill.
Early Hollywood Reporter production charts credit Joseph A. Fields and Robert Neville with the script. Fields is listed on screen as a co-story writer, but Neville's contribution to the final film has not been confirmed. Ray Mayer, Jack Mulhall, Eddie Borden, Otto Hoffman, Brooks Benedict, Pat Moriarity, Brandon Hurst, Will Stanton and George Lollier were listed as cast members in Hollywood Reporter production charts, but their participation in the final film has not been confirmed. According to the production charts, at least part of the film was shot at the Prudential Studios. Harold Wenstrom, not J. Roy Hunt, is listed as photographer in all of the charts. Much of the sub-plot of the film involved Sitting Bull's encounters with modern "technology," such as Murphy beds and gas lighting.
In 1946, Irving Berlin presented a Broadway musical version of the Annie Oakley story called Annie Get Your Gun, which starred Ethel Merman. In 1950, George Sidney directed an M-G-M version of the stage musical, also titled Annie Get Your Gun, which starred Betty Hutton and Howard Keel. Annie Oakley was also featured in an ABC television series, which starred Gail Davis and ran from 1953-57.
Released in United States 1935
Broadcast over TNT (colorized version) March 14, 1991.
Released in United States 1935