Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Best Chatsworth Movies -- The Oklahoma Kid (1939)

Directed for Warner Bros. by Lloyd Bacon and starring James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart and Rosemary Lane.  I won't tell you this film is one of the best cowboy movies you'll ever see, but it surprised me with some great action scenes featuring James Cagney.  

Yup! It's a fact.  Cagney who was more at home playing a Lower East Side gangster is actually a fair to middling' horseman, and pulls off some exciting horseback action.


As the Cherokee strip--a section of Oklahoma--is opened to settlement, a lawless gang led by outlaw Whip McCord takes over.  Respectable citizens including Judge Hardwick and his daughter Jane and John Kincaid and his son Ned are determined to build a civilized town in the strip which is destined to become Tulsa.  

John Kincaid's black sheep son (the Oklahoma Kid) irritates both outlaws and the law with his own brand of individualism.  The Kid who comes from a respectable family, but has gone bad and enters a life of crime.  In the film the Kid tells us, “Listen, I learned this about human nature when I was but so high, and that is: that the strong take away from the weak, and the smart take it away from the strong.”  

Controlled by McCord and his gang drinking, gambling and violence rule the town.  In an effort to fight the outlawry John Kincaid runs for mayor and Ned Kincaid runs for sheriff.  McCord frames John Kincaid for murder and holds a trial while Judge Hardwick is absent.  Kincaid is railroaded into a guilty verdict, and the lack of justice reinforces the Kid's cynicism about the law, so he tries (unsuccessfully) to break his father out of jail.

Later, McCord incites a crowd into lynching John Kincaid.  The Kid takes the law into his own hands, tracks down the killers and forces a confession out of McCord.  Ned Kincaid tries to arrest McCord, and is shot.  As he lies dying he saves the Kid's life by killing McCord. 

In the end the Kid decides to go straight and marries Jane.  All in all it's an entertaining tall tale about a good bad guy known as the Oklahoma Kid.


James Cagney as Jim Kincaid (The Oklahoma Kid)
Humphrey Bogart as Whip McCord
Rosemary Lane as Jane Hardwick
Donald Crisp as Judge Hardwick
Harvey Stephens as Ned Kincaid
Hugh Sothern as John Kincaid
Charles Middleton as Alec Martin
Edward Pawley as Ace Doolin
Ward Bond as Wes Handley
Lew Harvey as Ed Curley
Trevor Bardette as Indian Jack Pasco
John Miljan as Ringo (the lawyer)
Stuart Holmes as Grover Cleveland (uncredited)

From an Iverson Ranch historian's point of view the movie offers an exciting look at most of the 'Rock Stars' that kept film-makers coming back to the location for three quarters of a century.

The film's opening scenes feature the Kid on a rearing horse--where else, but in front of Lone Ranger Rock.

For more information about the Chatsworth filming locations visit http://www.cowboyup.com/ and learn about my books: Rendezvous at Boulder Pass: Hollywood's Fantasyland © 2010 (ISBN: 978-0-615-21522-8) and Reel Cowboys of the Santa Susanas © 2008 (ISBN: 978-0-615-21499-3)


  1. Cagney owned a large ranch in Bull Canyon, Granada Hills above Balboa Blvd and between Rinaldi and San Fernando Road. One of his barns was "U" shaped with a small turnout arena in the center. It was a magnifient barn with a gabled roof and The horses stabled there were harness horses. He also had a harness racing track nearby.

    A second barn was smaller and used as a foaling barn.

    He rode Morgans, but I believe they were kept elsewhere.

    I trained a few horses kept in the big barn after he sold the place. Most of the ranch went to track homes. However, enough of it was left for horse shows could be held there. My students exhibited and won in those shows.

    I just found this which describes the actual location of his ranch:

    "James Cagney Ranch at Bradford and Jacqueline Place (approximately 12450 Jacqueline Place; note this is not the actual address for the Cagney Ranch but a reference for the current location) [Update]: 'the actual address location was 17801 Bull Canyon Road.'"

  2. Thank you Loretta. It's a very good addition to my tale.