Boom Town (1940)

117 mins | Drama | 30 August 1940

Director:

Jack Conway

Writer:

John Lee Mahin

Producer:

Sam Zimbalist

Cinematographer:

Harold Rosson

Editor:

Blanche Sewell

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

Although onscreen credit list Harold Rosson as photographer, FD credits Elwood Bredell with photography. Onscreen credits also list Blanche Sewell as editor, but modern sources credit Paul Landers. According to news items in HR , the leading female role in this picture was originally written for Myrna Loy. Another item in HR notes that technical advisor Ford Alexander was a real-life oil fire fighter. The film was shot partially on location in Bakersfield, CA. A pre-release news item in HR adds that M-G-M decided to run this picture on a single bill and increase the admission price. The studio's justification for this policy was that with so many stars, it was actually "four films in one." In the movie Hulabaloo , star Frank Morgan impersonated the voices of Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy and Claudette Colbert in a re-enactment of a scene from Boom Town . Boom Town was nominated for the following Academy Awards: Best Black and White Cinematography, Best Special Photographic Effects and Best Sound Recording. This was the last of three films starring Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy. They also starred together in the 1936 film San Francisco (see below) and the 1938 film Test Pilot (see below). This was the second and last pairing of Gable and Claudette Colbert following their appearance in the Oscar winning film It Happened One Night (see ... More Less

Although onscreen credit list Harold Rosson as photographer, FD credits Elwood Bredell with photography. Onscreen credits also list Blanche Sewell as editor, but modern sources credit Paul Landers. According to news items in HR , the leading female role in this picture was originally written for Myrna Loy. Another item in HR notes that technical advisor Ford Alexander was a real-life oil fire fighter. The film was shot partially on location in Bakersfield, CA. A pre-release news item in HR adds that M-G-M decided to run this picture on a single bill and increase the admission price. The studio's justification for this policy was that with so many stars, it was actually "four films in one." In the movie Hulabaloo , star Frank Morgan impersonated the voices of Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy and Claudette Colbert in a re-enactment of a scene from Boom Town . Boom Town was nominated for the following Academy Awards: Best Black and White Cinematography, Best Special Photographic Effects and Best Sound Recording. This was the last of three films starring Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy. They also starred together in the 1936 film San Francisco (see below) and the 1938 film Test Pilot (see below). This was the second and last pairing of Gable and Claudette Colbert following their appearance in the Oscar winning film It Happened One Night (see below). More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
2 Aug 40
p.
Film Daily
6 Aug 40
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Dec 39
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jan 40
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Mar 40
pp. 6-7.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Mar 40
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Mar 40
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Mar 40
pp. 6-7.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jun 40
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jul 40
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Aug 40
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
10 Aug 40
p. 28.
Motion Picture Daily
30 Aug 40
p. 7.
Motion Picture Herald
10 Aug 40
p. 28.
New York Times
6 Sep 40
p. 25.
Variety
7 Aug 40
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam
Asst cam
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir assoc
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
Men's ward
MUSIC
Mus score
SOUND
Rec dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
Montage eff
MAKEUP
Hair styles by
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "A Lady Comes to Burkburnett" by James Edward Grant in Hearst's International-Cosmopolitan (Aug 1939).
DETAILS
Release Date:
30 August 1940
Production Date:
began late March 1940
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
5 August 1940
Copyright Number:
LP9868
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
117
Length(in reels):
13
Country:
United States
PCA No:
6351
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

On the day that his wildcat well comes in, Betsy Bartlett arrives to see her boyfriend, Square John Sand, and meets Big John McMasters, Square John's partner in the oil venture. It is love at first sight for Betsy and Big John, and they marry, much to Square John's disappointment. After a year of domesticity, the lure of the wildcatting life infects Big John, and Square John, angry at his partner's treatment of Betsy, tosses a coin for ownership of the well. Square John wins and Big John and Betsy take to the road, where after hitting it rich in the Oklahoma oil fields, Big John becomes a major power in the industry. In his role as oil baron, Big John meets wheeler dealer Harry Compton and his companion, Karen Vanmeer, and decides to expand his investments to the oil refineries back East. In New York, Big John begins to spend his time with Karen and neglect his wife and young son Jack. To help Betsy win back Big John, Square John teams with Compton in a business fight, which brings Big John to the attention of the government, which charges him with violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. At the trial, Square John comes to his ex-partner's rescue and testifies that Big John was really trying to conserve the supply of oil rather than trying to break the law. Big John is then vindicated and rejoins his wife and old partner to wildcat once ... +


On the day that his wildcat well comes in, Betsy Bartlett arrives to see her boyfriend, Square John Sand, and meets Big John McMasters, Square John's partner in the oil venture. It is love at first sight for Betsy and Big John, and they marry, much to Square John's disappointment. After a year of domesticity, the lure of the wildcatting life infects Big John, and Square John, angry at his partner's treatment of Betsy, tosses a coin for ownership of the well. Square John wins and Big John and Betsy take to the road, where after hitting it rich in the Oklahoma oil fields, Big John becomes a major power in the industry. In his role as oil baron, Big John meets wheeler dealer Harry Compton and his companion, Karen Vanmeer, and decides to expand his investments to the oil refineries back East. In New York, Big John begins to spend his time with Karen and neglect his wife and young son Jack. To help Betsy win back Big John, Square John teams with Compton in a business fight, which brings Big John to the attention of the government, which charges him with violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. At the trial, Square John comes to his ex-partner's rescue and testifies that Big John was really trying to conserve the supply of oil rather than trying to break the law. Big John is then vindicated and rejoins his wife and old partner to wildcat once more. +

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.