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Boom Town

(1940 b 119')

En: 7 Ed: 6

Two oil men become partners, and one marries the other's girl; their friendship continues but alternates with conflict as they both get rich.

In 1918 wildcatter John Sand (Spencer Tracy) can't get credit in Texas from Luther Aldrich (Frank Morgan) and meets John McMasters (Clark Gable), who has $800. Sand fights for McMasters, who goes to the field and wins the toss to be boss. Luther has deputy Harmony (Chill Wills) go with McMasters, who lets Sand rob the equipment. Their gusher is salt water. McMasters and Sand flee from Luther and Harmony and work on oil rigs. They pay Luther $2,000 and give him an eighth for another try. They drill, and Harmony cooks. In town McMasters sees Betsy (Claudette Colbert) and takes her to a rodeo. She goes into a saloon with McMasters, who tells her about Sand. She is going to leave, but he kisses her. Sand strikes oil and drives to town. After marrying McMasters, Betsy tells him she is the one Sand loves. Sand accepts the marriage, and they make money on oil.

On their anniversary Betsy lets McMasters go out, but she finds him drunk with Whitey (Marion Martin). Sand says a well is on fire. While they try to put it out, he and McMasters quarrel. They use nitro to quench it. McMasters tosses Sand for the field and loses. At home McMasters finds Betsy packing and lets her go. In a car Harmony tells Betsy that McMasters lost his share. Betsy goes back to McMasters, who says they must sell the house. Sand is drunk again and sells out to Luther. McMasters and Betsy work and travel. In the tropics McMasters refuses to work for Sand, who calls on Betsy and sees her son. McMasters buys land in Oklahoma, strikes it rich, and tells Harry Compton (Lionel Atwill) he is going to New York. McMasters meets Karen Vanmeer (Hedy Lamarr), who warns him about New York. Broke Sand attends the convention and declines a job offer from McMasters. Luther offers Sand credit; but McMasters is behind it, and Sand gets angry.

In New York Karen works for McMasters as a spy. McMasters finds Sand and Luther at the races. Sand is an oil baron now too. McMasters and Sand get drunk and make up. Karen meets Sand, and McMasters brings Sand home for dinner. Sand sees that Betsy is unhappy. Karen persuades McMasters to go to Washington. Sand calls on Karen and asks her to marry him for his money; but she realizes he loves Betsy and says McMasters will marry her. Sand learns that Betsy took sleeping pills. Sand merges with Compton to defeat McMasters, who offers low prices. Luther sells his stock, and Compton goes down. McMasters lost $5,000,000. Sand calls on McMasters and tells him to divorce Betsy. McMasters and Sand fight until others break in. Karen kisses McMasters and says good-bye. McMasters is charged with anti-trust violations. McMasters lets Betsy know he loves her. In court McMasters refuses to say why he tried to break Sand. Betsy is asked about Karen. Sand says that McMasters was for conservation and praises him. In the final scene McMasters and Betsy camp out and find Sand and Luther there; they agree to drill for oil.

In this turbulent friendship heart is always there, but sometimes pride or concern for Betsy separates them. She loves both also and learns that the struggles bring them closer than the success.

Copyright © 2002 by Sanderson Beck

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