This big, sprawling story was Susan Hayward's only film for Eagle-Lion and proved to be the company's most costly and highest-grossing production. Hayward plays the daughter of Shannon, a cattle rancher who dies in an oil field explosion, leaving Hayward an orphan. She blames oil tycoon Gough for her father's death, and is determined to get revenge. Before...read more
This big, sprawling story was Susan Hayward's only film for Eagle-Lion and proved to be the company's most costly and highest-grossing production. Hayward plays the daughter of Shannon, a cattle rancher who dies in an oil field explosion, leaving Hayward an orphan. She blames oil tycoon
Gough for her father's death, and is determined to get revenge. Before she does so, however, she meets Begley, and saves him from getting a beating in the process. Begley gratefully takes her out for a drink, then has a few too many and signs over some of his oil leases to his lady rescuer.
Hayward, who has no intent of taking advantage of the drunken man, plans to give him back the leases the next day, when he's sober. But Begley is killed in another fight before she can do so, leaving Hayward the owner of what turn out to be valuable oil rights. Gough offers her a considerable sum
for the leases, but rather than deal with the man she despises, Hayward teams up with her native American friend Armendariz, who has a small amount of money, and begins drilling on the land. They have no luck. When Begley's son, young geologist Preston, arrives on the scene, he offers to help
Hayward and Armendariz find the oil. Hayward is initially suspicious of his motives, but is eventually convinced that he is both sincere and dedicated to conserving the oil of the state, rather than exploiting the land and ruining the cattle country. But Armendariz's money runs out and the wells
are still dry, so Hayward is forced to turn to Gough for help. She borrows money from him on the condition that, if she doesn't strike oil by a certain date, Gough will receive the leases in perpetuity. Just when Hayward is on the of brink bankruptcy, black gold erupts from the earth and her
fortunes soar as high as the gushers. The landscape is now broken with one oil rig after another and the land suitable for cattle grazing is fast diminishing. Even Armendariz feels that there must be a compromise between petroleum and cattle. However, there are other Indians who profit from the
discovery of oil, and they pressure Hayward to drill even more wells--as many as Gough has drilled. Hayward reluctantly agrees. By now, she and Preston are in love, even though he is thoroughly opposed to her new business methods, especially when Hayward gets so greedy that she agrees to enter
into a partnership with Gough, who then commits them to more oil production than their present capacity allows. Disgusted, Preston leaves, at least for the time being. To increase the oil output, Gough goes after the land owned by Armendariz, who has long ago told Hayward how much he disagrees
with her and gone back to cattle. Armendariz will not lease his grazing land for oil, however, and Gough attempts to have him declared non compos mentis in front of a local magistrate. At this, Hayward finally puts her foot down, jeopardizing her entire fortune. Armendariz returns to his land,
where he discovers some cattle that have died as a result of drinking polluted water. He tosses a match into a stream and a huge oil fire erupts, whereupon Preston, Gough, Armendariz, and Hayward join forces to try to put out the tremendous blaze. Armendariz tries to rescue some of his cattle and
is followed by Hayward, resulting in their being trapped by toppling oil-rig towers and finally saved by Preston, who has commandeered a bulldozer. The fire dies and Hayward and Preston are reunited as they look at the smoking landscape. They vow to start all over again, but this time with a
better understanding of how to treat the treasures that the earth has yielded. The last of four films costarring Preston and Hayward, TULSA is directed at a good pace by Stuart Heisler, and features lots of action and romance. The film is especially good in its outdoor sequences, especially the
fire and the gushers, and is among the best of Hollywood's many attempts at epic oil sagas.
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