In Old Oklahoma

In Old Oklahoma (reissued as War of the Wildcats) is a 1943 American Western film directed by Albert S. Rogell starring John Wayne and Martha Scott. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards, one for Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture and the other for Sound Recording (Daniel J. Bloomberg).[2]

In Old Oklahoma
Theatrical poster
Directed byAlbert S. Rogell
Produced byRobert North
Screenplay byEthel Hill
Eleanore Griffin
Based onstory and adaptation by Thomson Burtis
StarringJohn Wayne
Martha Scott
Music byWalter Scharf
CinematographyJack A. Marta
Edited byErnest J. Nims
Republic Pictures
Distributed byRepublic Pictures
Release date
  • December 6, 1943 (1943-12-06) (United States)
Running time
102 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$2.5 million (US rentals)[1]


Eastern school teacher Catherine Allen becomes notorious in 1906 when it is learned that she has authored a romance novel. She decides to move west and begin a new life.

On the train, oil man Jim Gardner makes a pass at her. Catherine asks a cowboy, Dan Somers, to sit nearby as a safety measure. Both are on their way to Oklahoma, with stagecoach driver Despirit Dean tagging along with his friend Dan.

Many people in Sapulpa are upset with Jim's business tactics. A farmer feels he was paid too little for his property after Jim discovers oil there. Jim is furious when Dan strongly discourages Chief Big Tree from selling Indian land at too low an offer.

Dan travels to Washington, D.C., to ask President Theodore Roosevelt about oil rights. He fought for Teddy and the Rough Riders a few years before. Teddy offers him a chance to transport thousands of barrels of oil to a Tulsa refinery to win the rights over Jim, which leads to Jim's hired man, the Cherokee Kid, setting off an explosion and sabotaging the trip.

Catherine and Dan fall in love, with hotel owner Bessie Baxter playing matchmaker. A final fistfight between Dan and Jim settles matters once and for all.




In December 1941 it was announced Republic Pictures had bought an "oilfield story" War of the Wildcats by Thomson Burtis, as a vehicle for Ray Middleton.[3] They announced it for production in 1942.[4] In December it was announced Frances Hyland was working on the script and that the film would be a vehicle for John Wayne.[5]

The film still took a number of months to move into production. Eleanor Griffin and Ethel Hill were hired to work on the script "which puts the feature in the big league class" according to the Los Angeles Times. They were "to give the story the epic flavor."[6]

The movie was retitled In Old Oklahoma and filming was to start 15 June. Martha Scott was signed for the female lead, which was seen as a coup for Republic because she was associated with prestigious films such as Our Town (1940).[7]

The film was allocated a bigger budget than usual for a Republic Pictures film.[8]


Filming took place near Bakersfield.[9]

Parts of the film were shot in Johnson Canyon, Paria, Utah, Cedar City, and Virgin, Utah.[10]:287


Republic Pictures released it on December 6, 1943.[11]

The film did extremely well at the box office and encouraged Republic to make more bigger budgeted films.[12]

The movie was reissued in 1947 as War of the Wildcats.[13]


Screenwriter Griffin's ex-husband, William Rankin, later launched a $115,000 lawsuit against Griffin, Hill, Burtis and Republic, alleging the script included elements in three original scripts of his that he submitted to Republic: Indian Territory, Gasoline War, and Fire in Heaven. He alleged that the writers were hired to combine his scripts into the story of In Old Oklahoma but that he received no compensation.[14]

See also


  1. "Top Grossers of the Season", Variety, 5 January 1944 p 54
  2. "The 16th Academy Awards (1944) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-08-14.
  3. SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: Leading Roles in 'Aloha Means Goodbye' Assigned to Dennis Morgan and Ann Sheridan TEN PICTURES TO ARRIVE ' Shanghai Gesture,' 'Sundown' and 'Hellzapoppin' Among Six Due Christmas Day Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]22 Dec 1941: 25.
  4. 66 FEATURE FILMS LISTED BY REPUBLIC: $515,000,000 Budget, Highest in History of the Company, Includes Four Serials 26 WESTERNS TO BE MADE Gene Autry Will Be Starred in Four -- Sales Conventions of Firm Open Here Today New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]11 May 1942: 19.
  5. Conflict Impends Between Fox and Monogram on Rights to 'Grand Street Boys' Name: 'JACARE' AT GLOBE TODAY Film Made in Amazon Jungles -- 'Playboy,' 'Vierge Folle' Second Week at Belmont Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]26 Dec 1942: 15.
  6. DRAMA AND FILM: Epical Regeneration Planned for Oil Story Lesser to Glorify Three More Canteens; Gabin Named for 'Passage to Marseille' Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]17 May 1943: 17.
  7. DRAMA AND FILM: Martha Scott Likely Oil Pioneer Heroine 'Tomorrow the World' Quoted High; Two Comedians Will Vie as Rookies Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]26 May 1943: 15.
  8. SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: Warners to Do 'Lebensraum' Dealing With Tribunal to Try War Atrocity Perpetrators BATAAN' DUE AT CAPITOL ' He Hired the Boss' Arrives at the Palace -- 250,000 Persons See 'Mission to Moscow' Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]03 June 1943: 17.
  9. SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: Anne Baxter to Star in 'Paris, Tenn.,' Under the Direction of Otto Preminger, at Fox 2 NEW FILMS HERE TODAY ' Night Plane From Chungking' Due at Rialto -- 'Murder in Times Square' at Abbey Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]29 May 1943: 10.
  10. D'Arc, James V. (2010). When Hollywood came to town: A history of moviemaking in Utah (1st ed.). Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith. ISBN 9781423605874.
  11. "In Old Oklahoma". American Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  12. Westerns Rule But Republic Branches Out By Frank Daugherty. The Christian Science Monitor (1908-Current file); Boston, Mass. [Boston, Mass]21 Jan 1944: 4.
  13. Hollywood, Italy, and France Represented by New Pictures: 'Shoe Shine' from Italy 'My Wild Irish Rose' 'La Vie de Boheme' 'Captain from Castle' 'Magic Town' Stays 'Out of the Past' At the Uptown At the Exeter At the Center At the Laffmovie The Christian Science Monitor (1908-Current file); Boston, Mass. [Boston, Mass]24 Dec 1947: 5.
  14. Quinlan, He's No Common Drunk, Flees Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]22 June 1944: A16
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