Tonight I continued to work my way through the long filmography of "B" movie director Lew Landers, watching THE BIG GUSHER (1951) which was recommended to me last year by readers John Knight and Blake Lucas.
THE BIG GUSHER reunited Landers with Preston Foster, who starred in Landers' very appealing DOUBLE DANGER (1938) a dozen or so years before. Foster teams with Wayne Morris playing Hank and Kenny, partners who get a bonus for bringing in an oil well; they plan to use the bonus money to go into business drilling for themselves.
They're not counting on Hank losing his head over some drinks and a pretty girl (Dorothy Patrick) who earns some needed money on the side manipulating Hank to buy a probably worthless oil lease from Jim Tolman (Emmett Vogan). It looks like Hank and Kenny's money is down the drain, until an old oil man (Paul E. Burns) convinces the partners there's oil on the property...
That said, this is, as Blake said, "fast and breezy," clocking in at just 68 minutes, and I had a good time watching it. As usual, Landers squeezes the most entertainment value possible out of the script he was handed to work with, and it's a nice way to spend an hour or so.
Foster and Morris have a good relationship, managing to stay on solid footing with each other despite financial and romantic problems, and since I'm a Foster fan I enjoyed that Betsy went for him rather than the younger Morris, who might have been the more conventional matchup. There are even a couple cute jokes about the age issue, and all in all I thought Hank and Betsy's sparring romance was well-handled and a nice change from the usual.
BOYS' RANCH (1946) and FOLLOW ME QUIETLY (1949), to name just a couple. I'm always glad to have her turn up in a good-sized role, as she does in this film. And how cool is it that Blake knew her when he was a kid?
Stock footage of oil drilling is smoothly mixed in with shots of the actors, and while the film must have had a shoestring budget it's nicely put together and edited. There's even a couple minutes for Cappy (Burns) to give Betsy, and by extension the audience, a brief lesson on oil drilling.
THE BIG GUSHER was written by Daniel Ullman, who also wrote a couple of Westerns I've really liked in the past year, WICHITA (1955) and CANYON RIVER (1956). He also wrote the Wayne Morris Western THE FIGHTING LAWMAN (1953), which unfortunately was a disappointment.
THE BIG GUSHER is out on a nice-looking DVD in the Sony Choice line. It can be rented from ClassicFlix.
NIGHT WAITRESS (1936), WITHOUT ORDERS (1936), FLIGHT FROM GLORY (1937), THEY WANTED TO MARRY (1937), THE MAN WHO FOUND HIMSELF (1937), DANGER PATROL (1937), BORDER CAFE (1937), DOUBLE DANGER (1938), CRASHING HOLLYWOOD (1938), CONDEMNED WOMEN (1938), SKY GIANT (1938), SMASHING THE RACKETS (1938), TWELVE CROWDED HOURS (1939), PACIFIC LINER (1939), CONSPIRACY (1939), STAND BY ALL NETWORKS (1942), ALIAS BOSTON BLACKIE (1942), AFTER MIDNIGHT WITH BOSTON BLACKIE (1943), THUNDER MOUNTAIN (1947), DAVY CROCKETT, INDIAN SCOUT (1950), and MAN IN THE DARK (1952).