13 May 2006 | louis-king
John Wayne Channels 'Destry'
John Wayne plays a cowboy who allows himself to be underestimated by wildcatter Albert Dekker. His 'aw shucks' manner like Jimmy Stewart in 'Destry Rides Again' masks a tough, intelligent character who rises to the challenge posed by Albert Dekker's Jim Gardner.
Part of what makes the movie interesting is that the villain, Jim Gardner, is not just a standard heavy. Yes, he's a ruthless businessman, single minded in his drive for success. On the other hand, he's competent and he's no coward. Early in the movie he arrives at one of his well sites and is told there's a mechanical problem. None of his workers seem able or willing to fix it. Disregarding his personal safety, he climbs a rope to the top of the well and fixes the problem.
He's also a close physical match for John Wayne's character, with two long fights. Like it or not, Gardner represents the kind of entrepreneur that built this country. You can't help having a grudging respect for him.
Wayne's Dan Somers has a populist outlook. At the sight of an oil well spouting oil, Martha Scott's Cathy Allen, gushes "It smells like a new day, like prosperity"; Somers replies, "To me it just smells".
Somers saves Gardner from getting shot by a disgruntled farmer, then prevents Gardner from beating up the farmer. Somers seems to represent a 'New Deal' philosophy.