A doctor stops in a small Southwestern town to bury his wife. He decides to stay there and start a practice, but soon runs into violent cattle ranchers.A doctor stops in a small Southwestern town to bury his wife. He decides to stay there and start a practice, but soon runs into violent cattle ranchers.A doctor stops in a small Southwestern town to bury his wife. He decides to stay there and start a practice, but soon runs into violent cattle ranchers.
After his wife dies during childbirth, Doctor John Brighton (McCrea) stops in the small Oklahoma town of Cherokee Wells to bury her. Deciding to stay there and start a practice, he comes to run afoul of the local bad boys fronted by the Dobie brothers (Dexter/Dick).
A CinemaScope/De Luxe Color production, The Oklahoman appears to be one of McCrea's lesser known Westerns. Which is a shame, for although this isn't high on action quotas, it is however rich on characters and beats a solid worthy message heart. It's a typical McCrea characterisation, Doctor Brighton is a peaceable man, a bastion of the community, loved by all but the baddies. As the stench of racism rears its ugly head, and a secret of the land comes to the fore, Brighton is forced to stand up for values that he knows to be right, putting himself into great danger in the process.
The Native American characters are well written, showing them to be hard working and integral parts of the community. This is a town where integration clearly works, it's only when financial gain for the Dobie Brothers surfaces does race become an issue. There's a rather fanciful (sort of) love triangle in the mix, as both the Hale and Talbott (playing a young Indian character) have soft feelings for the much older doctor, but this aspect is no hindrance to the pic since it isn't overtly played. Over on the villain side of things Dexter does a nice line in gurning mistrust, and thankfully he doesn't shift into cartoon caricature.
It's not a very insightful picture, as per the themes ticking away, this is after all a second tier "B" Western. Yet some classy veneers shine bright as our characters move about the comforting surrounds of the Iverson Ranch locales. While of course McCrea is the most reassuring presence of all. 7/10
- Jul 11, 2019