Dunaway is a mean-spirited lady who owns a small piece of land on which she wildcats for oil. Working with her is an Indian, Campos, and she disdains any other human contact. PanOklahoma, a huge oil firm, wants her rig. Mills, her estranged father, arrives to help, but she contemptuously
sends him on his way. He goes to a hobo camp where he meets Scott, a sleazy, drunken roustabout with no scruples, ambitions, or decency, and asks him to help his daughter, promising him a share in the profits when the well comes in. More out of caprice than commitment, Scott shows up, and his help
is grudgingly accepted by Dunaway, though she makes it clear that she's not interested in him nor in any other man. While Scott, Dunaway, and Campos sleep, sadistic Palance and Pan-Oklahoma thugs arrive and beat them viciously, driving them off the land. Campos later dies of his wounds. Scott and
Dunaway go to town where they join forces with Mills. They go to a lawyer, Parfrey, who tells them it's useless to take Pan-Oklahoma to court since the firm owns the judges and advises that they retake the property by force. After obtaining weapons and supplies, the three drive Palance and his
goons off. Now the trio must stand guard day and night. The company thugs snipe at the derrick around the clock. As the ordeal continues, Dunaway's attitude toward Scott and her father softens. When a cable breaks, Mills affixes a metal sheet to his back and climbs the derrick, bullets ricocheting
off the shield. He gets to the top, makes the repairs, and is about to descend when he is fatally shot and falls to his death. Scott and Dunaway continue to operate the well until Palance decides to rush the derrick stronghold once more. Just as his men charge up the hill, the well comes in,
blasting crude oil skyward. Dunaway has brought in her well and, instead of being shot, she finds herself approached by representatives of oil firms offering her huge amounts of money. Triumphant, she is about to take the highest bid when the well suddenly fizzles out and runs dry. The oil people
leave, and Scott tells her that he's planning to go to Mexico. As he starts off, Dunaway calls him by his first name, and he stops dead, his eyebrow arched. A smile appears on Dunaway's lips, and the film ends.
OKLAHOMA CRUDE is both drama and comedy, but sometimes mix is confusing. Scott slides through his graceless role with flashes of brilliance, while Dunaway does a rural rendition of THE TAMING OF THE SHREW. Mills is outstanding as the errant father who had deserted his family and tries to redeem
himself at the end. Palance, on the other hand, is a caricature of the old-fashioned villain; all he needs is the long black mustache to twirl as he contemplates the fate of his next victim. Still, the movie is highly entertaining since Kramer distains his usual "message" and plays for the
straight story. Mancini's tedious score misses, and the special effects are lifeless. The violence is often extraordinary and bloody. This tale was much better made and told in BOOM TOWN, 1940, with Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, and Hedy Lamarr. OKLAHOMA CRUDE was not filmed in
Oklahoma because a suitable, 1913 setting could not be found. Instead, an oil field near Stockton, California was used.
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1973
- Rating: PG
- Review: Dunaway is a mean-spirited lady who owns a small piece of land on which she wildcats for oil. Working with her is an Indian, Campos, and she disdains any other human contact. PanOklahoma, a huge oil firm, wants her rig. Mills, her estranged father, arrives… (more)