Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5
USA, 1935. RKO Radio Pictures. Screenplay by Joel Sayre, John Twist, from a story by Joseph Fields, Ewart Adamson. Cinematography by J. Roy Hunt. Produced by Cliff Reid. Music by Alberto Colombo. Production Design by Van Nest Polglase. Costume Design by Walter Plunkett. Film Editing by Jack Hively.
The legendary gunslinging gal of the Wild West has her tale told in this so-so biopic. Barbara Stanwyck is perfectly cast as the feisty lady, a crack shot with a rifle who was so impressive that she became the main attraction in the travelling shows staged by Buffalo Bill. Famous for her fantastic stunts and exceptionally good aim, Oakley was only thwarted in the department of romance. Preston Foster plays Toby Walker, the other star of the show whose professional rivalry with Oakley is not helped by their personal feelings for each other.
Though much of the story has been pumped up for film audiences, the effect is still pretty poignant, particularly Stanwyck’s portrayal of a tough, independent woman before they were in vogue in movies (if they ever were). Other than her performance there’s really not much worth remembering, especially since this film has been surpassed by a far superior musical version (with an inferior Annie), Annie Get Your Gun.