The Wildcatter


1h 16m 1937

Film Details

Release Date
Jun 6, 1937
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Universal Pictures Co.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 16m
Film Length
6 reels

Synopsis

Eager to take advantage of a new oil boom, "Lucky" Conlon leaves his gas station and diner for Texas, with his wife Helen's blessing. In Texas, Lucky wins enough money in roulette to lease a parcel of land, and he and his friend "Smiley" begin drilling. Julia Frayne, whom Lucky met while gambling, turns out to be the daughter of oil tycoon Tom Frayne, who is eager to buy out the leases of the growing number of independent drillers, called "wildcatters," in order to hold a monopoly on the local oil fields. When he runs out of money, Lucky "shoots" his well, trying to force the oil up using explosives, but gets only smoke. Julia then hires Lucky to drill her lease, thereby abandoning his own. She hopes Lucky's friends will follow his example and, seeing the futility of their drilling, sell to Frayne Oil Company. Helen, meanwhile, visits and gets a job at a beauty shop, while Lucky spends his nights out on the town with Julia, believing he is winning favor with Frayne. When the papers announce that Frayne is withdrawing from the area, the land values recede, and most of the wildcatters abandon their leases, which Frayne then buys at a bargain. Lucky and his crews work diligently and strike oil too early, however, and Frayne fails to retrieve the leases of those wildcatters who have held out. All those who hold leases are now forced to work twenty-four hours a day, lest their leases expire before they have struck oil. Lucky's crews, meanwhile, are angry at him for betraying them and spending his nights with Julia. One night, Frayne orders Julia to keep Lucky occupied at nightclubs while Frayne's men sabotage the wildcatters' rigs. In the morning, the wildcatters prepare to lynch Lucky, unaware that his wells are really Frayne's. Smiley and Helen promise the men that Lucky will be able to clear himself in an hour. Lucky, meanwhile, goes to Frayne, who bought the wildcat leases the day before and is planning to foreclose them today, and threatens him unless he fixes the rigs. Lucky then goes out to the fields, and the men mob him and Smiley. They are about to lynch them, when Lucky's friend Johnson, who was going to kill Lucky himself until he learned the truth, arrives and tells the men they can save their rigs if they get them working by the next day. The sheriff then arrives with Frayne, and Lucky tells him all his wells are rigged to be shot. As Lucky had been drilling past an underground waterfall, he warns Frayne that if he shoots the wells, he will get only water, not oil. Frayne gives in, offering Lucky a permanent position with him, but Lucky accepts Johnson's offer to become his partner. Helen then reveals that she has already sold their gas station and has $3,000 to put toward working capital for Johnson's rig. Lucky finally realizes what a heel he has been and how swell his wife is.

Film Details

Release Date
Jun 6, 1937
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Universal Pictures Co.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 16m
Film Length
6 reels

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

On 3 April 1937 Hollywood Reporter announced that Universal was not extending Scott Colton's contract, which began in November 1936, and that he would be off the lot at the end of the month.