Barbara Stanwyck in Annie Oakley (1935)

Little Sure Shot

"Annie Oakley" is one of those movies which makes you eat your words because plainly speaking it is a romanticized and heavily fictionalized account of Annie Oakley's life. But because it is so entertaining that even when you are opposed to movies which mess with the facts you can't but help enjoy it. Much of that is down to the smart casting of Barbara Stanwyck as Oakley as she manages to play her both tough but sweet which is simply appealing.

Young Annie (Barbara Stanwyck - Roustabout) is renowned for her sharp shooting, shooting Quail in flight and getting them through the head every time in order not to spoil the meat. Thanks to her skill with a gun she finds herself in a shooting competition with Toby Walker (Preston Foster - Tomahawk) who had just signed to the Buffalo Bill's (Moroni Olsen) Wild West Show. Letting him win because she thinks he is pretty Annie still finds herself signed up to appear as well.

Preston Foster in Annie Oakley (1935)

So as I said "Annie Oakley" is a fictionalized account of the famous sharp shooter taking the basic facts and then crafting a tale around it, a tale of romance as Annie falls for Toby. Along the way we have some drama including Toby ending up injured when in Washington someone tried to shoot Chief Sitting Bull. And with this being a romanticized tale there has to be some romantic complications as well with more than one man interested in her.

But the thing is that despite being fictionalized "Annie Oakley" is highly entertaining with an enjoyable humorous streak running through things. The whole opening which sees the confusion over Oakley being Annie rather than Andie as well as the banter between Annie and Toby just makes you smile. And that continues through out the entire movie, that simple old fashioned western charm, the comical escapism which basically spoils it as a biopic but makes it fun.

But it is also the clever casting of Barbara Stanwyck which makes the movie because in this one role she plays tough, sassy but also sweet. Stanwyck makes Oakley so loveable that you just enjoy watching her being the semi naive, sweet back wood girl with a great eye and trigger finger. That doesn't take anything away from the other performances with Preston Foster doing an enjoyable job of playing the arrogant Toby Walker although you will laugh at how quickly his character transforms.

What this all boils down to is that "Annie Oakley" is a lot of fiction but it is entertaining fiction with Barbara Stanwyck doing a wonderful job of playing quite frankly an adorable version of Annie Oakley.