Al Jennings of Oklahoma (1951)

77-78 mins | Biography, Western | March 1951

Director:

Ray Nazarro

Writer:

George Bricker

Producer:

Rudolph Flothow

Cinematographer:

W. Howard Greene

Editor:

Dick Fantl

Production Designer:

Victor Greene

Production Company:

Columbia Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

The film opens with voice-over narration establishing the setting. The narration continues intermittently throughout the film, detailing specifics of Al Jenning's life over a montage of the events. The real Al Jennings (1864--1961) ran away from home at the age of eight and, according to a Jan 1954 news item in LADN , while Jennings was working as a cowboy, he learned the law by reading Blackstone's Commentaries . The same article indicates that "Margo St. Claire" was a fictitious character, as Jennings met his wife Maude after his release from prison.
       Jennings was reportedly not completely satisfied with this filmed version of his life, which showed him robbing stagecoaches when he actually specialized in mail-train heists. According to HR news items, Burt Kelly was initially slated to produce, but his participation in any phase of production has not been confirmed. Jennings' story was filmed earlier in 1914 as Beating Back by Thanhouser Film Corp., directed by Caryl S. Fleming and starring Al and Frank Jennings. A story by Al Jennings was used for Hands Up! , a 1917 Fine Arts production. In 1918, Al Jennings formed his own production company, which produced the sole film The Lady of the Dugout , directed by W. S. Van Dyke and starring Al and Frank Jennings (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20 ). Throughout the 1920s and sporadically into the 1930s, Al Jennings appeared in bit parts in westerns and action films, including several of Universal's silent "Blue Streak" ... More Less

The film opens with voice-over narration establishing the setting. The narration continues intermittently throughout the film, detailing specifics of Al Jenning's life over a montage of the events. The real Al Jennings (1864--1961) ran away from home at the age of eight and, according to a Jan 1954 news item in LADN , while Jennings was working as a cowboy, he learned the law by reading Blackstone's Commentaries . The same article indicates that "Margo St. Claire" was a fictitious character, as Jennings met his wife Maude after his release from prison.
       Jennings was reportedly not completely satisfied with this filmed version of his life, which showed him robbing stagecoaches when he actually specialized in mail-train heists. According to HR news items, Burt Kelly was initially slated to produce, but his participation in any phase of production has not been confirmed. Jennings' story was filmed earlier in 1914 as Beating Back by Thanhouser Film Corp., directed by Caryl S. Fleming and starring Al and Frank Jennings. A story by Al Jennings was used for Hands Up! , a 1917 Fine Arts production. In 1918, Al Jennings formed his own production company, which produced the sole film The Lady of the Dugout , directed by W. S. Van Dyke and starring Al and Frank Jennings (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20 ). Throughout the 1920s and sporadically into the 1930s, Al Jennings appeared in bit parts in westerns and action films, including several of Universal's silent "Blue Streak" Westerns. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
20 Jan 1951.
---
Daily Variety
10 Jan 51
p. 4.
Film Daily
17 Jan 51
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Mar 50
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Apr 50
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
12 May 50
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
24 May 50
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jan 51
p. 3.
Los Angeles Daily News
1 Jan 1954.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
13 Jan 51
p. 662.
New York Times
18 May 51
p. 34.
Variety
17 Jan 51
p. 11.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dir
MUSIC
SOUND
Sd tech
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Suggested by the short story "Beating Back" by Al Jennings and Will Irwin in The Saturday Evening Post (6 Sep 1913).
DETAILS
Release Date:
March 1951
Production Date:
mid April--late May 1950
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
1 March 1951
Copyright Number:
LP981
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
77-78
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1863, in Tennessee, as the battle between the States rages, the wife of Confederate officer Major Jennings gives birth to her fourth son Al in a small abandoned cabin. Mirroring the turbulent times in which he was born, Al grows up quick-tempered and prone to violence in Coldwater, Kansas. Although he follows his older brothers and father into the respectable practice of law, Al is not beyond provoking a brawl in open court when angered. Eventually, with Judge Jennings' consent, Al and his brother Frank decide to leave Coldwater and join their brothers John and Ed in Woodward, in the Oklahoma Territory. On the journey, Al comes to the aid of Margo St. Claire when she is trapped on a runaway buckboard. Margo tells Al she is also traveling to Woodward for a brief visit with her uncle, Bob Kyle. Upon arriving in the town, Al and Frank discover that Ed is in the middle of a water rights case, defending Kyle from accusations of non-payment by known swindler Bill Mertz. The next day in court, Al runs into Margo and flirts with her. Although charmed, she tells him she is returning home to New Orleans shortly and Al promises to visit her there. Later, Al interrupts the court proceedings when the opposing counsel, Tom Marsden, maligns Ed. A fight breaks out, but once Al is subdued, Ed eventually wins his case, incensing Mertz and Marsden. The next evening Mertz sees Ed and Al in the local saloon playing cards and summons Marsden, who confronts and kills Ed. The sheriff promptly arrests Marsden and assures a furious Al that justice will prevail in ... +


In 1863, in Tennessee, as the battle between the States rages, the wife of Confederate officer Major Jennings gives birth to her fourth son Al in a small abandoned cabin. Mirroring the turbulent times in which he was born, Al grows up quick-tempered and prone to violence in Coldwater, Kansas. Although he follows his older brothers and father into the respectable practice of law, Al is not beyond provoking a brawl in open court when angered. Eventually, with Judge Jennings' consent, Al and his brother Frank decide to leave Coldwater and join their brothers John and Ed in Woodward, in the Oklahoma Territory. On the journey, Al comes to the aid of Margo St. Claire when she is trapped on a runaway buckboard. Margo tells Al she is also traveling to Woodward for a brief visit with her uncle, Bob Kyle. Upon arriving in the town, Al and Frank discover that Ed is in the middle of a water rights case, defending Kyle from accusations of non-payment by known swindler Bill Mertz. The next day in court, Al runs into Margo and flirts with her. Although charmed, she tells him she is returning home to New Orleans shortly and Al promises to visit her there. Later, Al interrupts the court proceedings when the opposing counsel, Tom Marsden, maligns Ed. A fight breaks out, but once Al is subdued, Ed eventually wins his case, incensing Mertz and Marsden. The next evening Mertz sees Ed and Al in the local saloon playing cards and summons Marsden, who confronts and kills Ed. The sheriff promptly arrests Marsden and assures a furious Al that justice will prevail in court. The next day, as Judge Jennings joins his grieving sons, the sheriff regretfully informs them that Marsden is out on bail. Angry, Al rides out to Marsden's ranch, determined to get a signed confession from him. Marsden stalls, then draws his gun, but Al is quicker. Mertz, witnessing the killing, hurries away to report to the sheriff, blaming Al. Al flees with Frank and together they outwit a posse before riding into the Diamond B cattle ranch, which they soon discover is a cover for outlaw Fred Salter and his gang. Salter blackmails Al and Frank into joining the gang, threatening to turn Al in for the posted $1,000 bounty. Al quickly becomes the head of the gang, which holds up banks, stagecoaches and trains. When the bounty on Al goes up to $20,000, the brothers decide they should break away from Salter and escape to Louisiana. Under the name of Thompson, the Jennings use their abundant means to begin a cotton brokerage and go straight. Al looks up Margo and confesses his past, which she forgives, and soon the couple is engaged. One day a railroad detective, Dan Hanes, recognizes the Jenningses and plots to have them kidnapped and taken back to Oklahoma Territory. With Margo's help, however, Al and Frank escape. Knowing they can not stay in Louisiana, they return to Salter's ranch to pull one final job to get enough money to leave the country. Mrs. Salter, greedy for the reward money, informs the marshal about the robbery plans. A posse captures all the gang except the Jenningses, who cross the state line into Arkansas before Al is thrown from his horse, breaking his leg. The marshal disregards the state line and arrests the brothers. Back in Oklahoma, Judge Jennings defends his sons in court but the trial judge bullies the split jury into convicting the Jenningses. Frank is sentenced to five years and Al to life. Five years later, however, the irregularities of Al's arrest and trial gain him release and eventually a pardon from President Theodore Roosevelt. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.