The Oklahoma Kid is a 1939 Warner Brothers western starring James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart. Casting Cagney and Bogart in a western was an interesting choice, but it does work. The film may not be an all time classic, but it should appeal to fans of Cagney and Bogart.
The movie utilizes the Oklahoma Rush of 1890’s as the basic backdrop of the storyline. What is most interesting about the plot is the fact that both leads essentially are antagonists. Cagney is clearly the hero of the movie, but he is a man who regularly steps outside of the law. He portrays Jim Kincaid, The Oklahoma Kid, an outlaw with a heart. Bogart, dressed in black from head to toe, is clearly the movie’s villain. Although the setting is the West in the 1890’s Bogart is basically playing a gangster. Despite a rather curious hair style, Bogart as Whip McCord is spectacular in the film. He really makes the most of this role. After strong-arming the locals into a deal he utters a great line, “You take care of their virtues, I’ll take care of their vices.”
This is clearly a Warner Brothers movie. It features Warner Brothers regulars in the cast, a dramatic film score by Max Steiner and a mix of melodrama and light comedy throughout. On the surface The Oklahoma Kid is clearly a western. However, the film feels like a typical Warner Brothers movie of the time that just happens to be set in the Wild West.
Overall The Oklahoma Kid is an enjoyable film. The storyline line is a bit disjointed at times. But Cagney and Bogart are a joy to watch in the Wild West. I will say that if the two leads were not in the film I probably would not have been interested in the movie. That is not a knock on the movie, it just speaks to my love of Bogart and Cagney movies. Cagney may have top billing, but I would say that he and Bogart have nearly equal screen time. Unfortunately they do not have many scenes together. But both stars make the most of their time in the film.
Overall the Oklahoma Kid is a fun movie that should appeal to fans of Bogart and Cagney, westerns and old time Warner Brothers movies.