Review of Tulsa (1949)

Moving picture, 90 minutes

Seen in 2020.

The oil boom in Oklahoma in relation to ranching, native American cultures, and environmental concerns.

The special-effects shots (back projection, miniatures, masking etc.) look poor even for the time, but the pace is good, the reverse-harem romantic drama revolving around a stereotypically feisty redhead is funny, and the obviously ambivalent attitude to native culture and nature are fascinating in this, the last year of the Hollywood studio system. There are multiple scenes demonstrating an awareness of real-world problems, including one debate over the tragedy of the commons (though the term is not used) and a court scene where the judge clearly exemplifies instutionalized racism to present a sane native (the first romantic candidate) as insane, yet the latter scene causes the man to become insane, just to trigger a tiring spectacle for the climax, wherein environmentalism and heroic capitalism are tritely reconciled. The 1921 Tulsa pogrom should have been mentioned, but is not; I wonder whether its shadow played some part in the otherwise somewhat prominent depiction of minorities.

References here: There Will Be Blood (2007), The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), The Revenant (2015).

moving picture fiction