Al Jennings of Oklahoma (1951) Poster

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Not a bad little film, but not much plot
Marlburian12 May 2007
For 1951, not a bad little Western, with some bright colour photography, but after it was over I thought there was little substance to it. A quick Google confirms that Jennings wasn't much success as a crook and that the film took lots of liberties with his story, though I couldn't determine whether the reward for his capture every topped $20,000, as shown in the film. What made his life interesting was his political career after release from prison, but I guess that wouldn't have added much to an "action" Western.

Having fled Oklahoma because he fears being betrayed by his fellow gang members, Jennings returns to them, which didn't seem too bright. And the botched final raid on the train and its meagre rewards seem to sum up his career as a bad man. But the posse wasn't too bright, either, with its 20 or so members failing to capture the depleted Jennings gang at the ranch, though at least this led to a chase and final showdown.

It was good to see a youngish John Dehner, and Guinn Williams in a role where his character wasn't too empty-headed.
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Somewhat rushed B Western
Tweekums20 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This film is inspired by the real life attorney turned criminal Al Jennings although from what I can tell many liberties were taken to make the story more appealing. The story begins during the dying days of the civil war when Al Jennings, son of a Confederate major, is born; the action then jumps forward and we see the father is now a judge and Al is a hot-headed lawyer. Wanting to move away from his father, he and his brother head to Oklahoma where they meet up with their other brothers. Soon after one of the brother's is publicly murdered but the killer is a powerful man so is soon bailed. Wanting justice; Al goes to see the killer and shoots him dead; now on the run from the law Al and his brother Frank end up part of a criminal gang. As their infamy increases so does the reward demanded so they decide to quit crime and head to New Orleans where he meets up with Margo St. Claire, a beautiful woman he first met early in the film. Here the brothers abide by the law, knowing there is no extradition treaty between Louisiana and Oklahoma. All goes well until they are recognised by somebody willing to kidnap them for the reward. They get away but decide to head back to Oklahoma for one last robbery; one they think will net then $200,000!

I tend to enjoy short westerns; just the thing to watch on a Sunday afternoon; however at only seventy nine minutes this felt far too rushed; it would have been much better if it had been a bit longer. The story was fascinating; before watching I'd never heard of lawyer turned criminal Al Jennings so I was quite surprised when the character changed from a man of the law to a criminal! Actor Dan Duryea did a good job as the short tempered protagonist even though his character wasn't that likable even when he wasn't a criminal. There was plenty of decent action set in some attractive scenery although like many such films it was filmed in Southern California not in Oklahoma. This is hardly a must see film but if it is on television I'd recommend it if you are a fan of the genre.
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Hot tempered lawyer, used his fists and gun more than the book.
tmwest2 April 2006
Al Jennings is an unusual interesting western. Jennings was a lawyer, but a hot tempered one who would not think twice of a fistfight in a courtroom when he felt he or his family was insulted. His father was a judge who could not accept Al's behavior. Jennings ends up fighting with a powerful man who kills his brother, and after that he ends up robbing trains. Who suffers with that is the beautiful Gale Storm who wanted to marry Jennings. Dan Duryea, who plays Jennings was so good at being a bad guy that most of his roles were just that. Here he has more of a chance to be different, first because(in the film) Al was not such a bad guy, and second because he is the main character. The colors are bright and nice, the film is entertaining with many good action scenes. Ray Nazarro, the director was an expert in westerns, he directed many of the Charles Starret-Durango Kid films.
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The law is an ass, so enter Al Jennings and The Long Riders.
hitchcockthelegend24 August 2013
Al Jennings of Oklahoma is directed by Ray Nazaro and adapted to screenplay by George Bricker from the book co-written by Al Jennings and Will Irwin. It stars Dan Duryea, Gale Storm, Dick Foran, Gloria Henry, Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams and Raymond Greenleaf. Music is by Mischa Bakaleinikoff and cinematography by W. Howard Greene.

Al Jennings, as played here by Duryea, follows a life trajectory that sees him born into a legal family and thus take up the family trade. Known for his hot temper, it's not long before Al runs into trouble and burnt by the folly of the law when tragedy strikes his family, throws off his legal eagle clobber and turns to the outlaw life. Moving from robbing banks to robbing trains, and with the beautiful Gale Storm's token love interest holding his attention, Al and his brother Frank (Foran) decide to leave crime and go straight. But the past catches up with them and they inevitably end up serving time for their crimes. But there's another twist! The instability of the trial sees Al serve only 5 years of his life sentence and upon release becomes something of a prime mover in the Statehood of Oklahoma.

You sense it's all very romanticised from the actual life of Al Jennings, but in spite of some sub-standard acting and poorly scripted passages, it's still an enjoyable Oater. There's some decent stunt- work early on, a couple of rounds of knuckles (though the court room fight is not greatly constructed), chases, some gun-play and it's nice and colourful with Technicolor photography around the Chatsworth location shoot. So it's watchable enough, even if not very memorable then? Yes, that's about it really. 6/10
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Forget Oklahoma...
westerner3573 July 2003
Starring Dan Duryea as Al Jennings, this is another routine Columbia quickie, filmed in the foothills of southern California. The script and film look like they were put out in about 10 days, and boring clichés abound.

Al Jennings used to be a lawyer until circumstances forced him to kill a man and cross over to the other side of the law. From what I understand, this film had nothing to do with the real-life Al Jennings who served time in prison for armed robbery. He wasn't as romantic a cad as Duryea makes out to be.

And the fistfight scene between Duryea and John Dehner in the courtroom looked laughingly bad and amateurish. Awful. Truly awful...which is a real shame since Duryea has appeared in some excellent westerns like WINCHESTER '73 (1950), RIDE CLEAR OF DIABLO (1954) and NIGHT PASSAGE (1957).

With Dick Foran who stands around and smiles a lot, and Gail Storm as the love interest, this oater is pretty dull stuff with nothing to make it stand out from the dozens of others Columbia put out in the 50s.

2 out 10 for causing a few zzzz's...
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Minor classic
robertcrewdson13 December 2018
I first became interested in this film after seeing a photo of the real Al Jennings in a magazine in the late 60s. The story is taken from one of Jennings books ,'Beating Back', published in 1914, and available to read online. As this is promoted as a true story, I wonder why changes were made to the way events happened; did it make for better viewing, and were the name changes done for legal reasons? Al Jennings was still alive when the film was released; he passed away in 1961, just months after the death of his wife. Firstly, Al's brother was killed by Temple Houston, not the John Marsden of the film: Al was not present at the time, but was sleeping, and alerted to the tragedy. He joined criminals while waiting for the time to exact his revenge on Houston. Secondly, his wife was named Maude E. Deayton, not Margot St.Claire. A fine performance from Dan Duryea, and a rare chance to see him in a leading role. Accurate or not, I give this 10 out of 10 for entertainment value. If you have enjoyed the exploits of Frank and Jesse James, and how two law abiding farmers were turned into bandits by the actions of the railway, then you will enjoy this film.
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Even a law abiding family can spawn a criminal.
michaelRokeefe26 November 2000
The subject of much folk lore and legend in the beginnings of Oklahoma statehood. Al Jennings brings shame and disappointment to his family by becoming an angry bank robber. After serving his sentence, he tries to walk the straight and narrow; and by studying the law, gains respect and becomes a footnote in the history of Oklahoma.

Sporadic action and distorted story inspired by truth. Cast includes: Dan Duryea, Dick Foran, James Millican, Gale Storm and Raymond Greenleaf.
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Bland, Despite Duryea
dougdoepke26 August 2014
Lawyer Al Jennings discovers he likes robbing better than lawyering, but then tries to straighten out. Yet the past has a way of catching up, especially if there's a relapse back into robbing.

Badly flawed western, with a spotty screenplay, uninspired direction, and indifferent acting. Pairing ace villain Duryea with malt-shop Storm is like pairing Dillinger with Shirley Temple. Unfortunately, Duryea pretty much walks through his role as Al Jennings. Too bad, because given a good script and quality direction, few could deliver more memorable performances than slick-haired Duryea. Yet it looks like his career was on a downturn here since he went into TV (China Smith) the following year (IMDB).

I just wish director Nazarro could have heightened the drama with a few close-ups. Instead, his camera remains at an impersonal distance, which doesn't help. Then too, there's sloppy attention to detail. Note how after the wild buckboard chase, Storm looks like she just stepped out of a fashionable beauty salon. Even her over-sized hat is un-windblown. Sure, this is minor, but it all adds up, including sloppy staging as when the posse tries to catch the gang at the Diamond B ranch.

In my little book, the oater's a bland waste of talent, whose best feature may be the Technicolor photography, even if action never leaves LA environs. Too bad all around, especially for fans of the great Dan Duryea.
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