At a glance
- Director: Jack Conway
- Starring: Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Claudette Colbert, Hedy Lamarr
- Producer: Sam Zimbalist (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 1 hour 59 minutes
In the fast-paced booming oil industry of the early 20th century, two wildcatters – the charismatic “Big John” McMasters and “Square John” Sand – forge an unlikely friendship and try their fortunes at becoming oil tycoons.
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Karen Vanmeer: A man always worries about his tie when he’s in love, doesn’t he?
Square John: He wanted these guys to produce less oil so that their wells would flow years longer and not ruin the fields. And that way they’d get all the oil there was to get out of the wells. Don’t you get the idea? He was for conservation! Now, how can a guy be breaking laws when he’s trying to save the natural resources of the country? He didn’t know that he was doing anything that you might call noble; but, being one of the best oil men there is, he’s got the right hunch about oil. He knows that it took billions of years to put it here and if we keep taking it at the rate we’re going; why, before long, there won’t be any oil left in the good old U.S.A! Won’t be any left for him or men like him to break up into lube and fuel and gasoline so that people can get their stuff moved around in trucks. and so that you can light furnaces and homes and schoolhouses. If that time comes, what’ll be the good of American schoolhouses, anyway? What’ll be the good of your two oceans? What are you gonna run airplanes and battleships on – tomato soup?
Square John: McMasters is a wildcatter. If it wasn’t for automobiles, he’d be driving a covered wagon. It’s always been his breed that has opened up the country and made it what it is. So now I’m wondering – is it getting out of line for a man to make a million dollars with this brains and with his hands? Because if it is, we better rewrite this “Land of Opportunity” stuff. Oh, I admit that he’s ornery and he’s mean; but, he’s an oil man with the right idea of what to do with our oil.