There Will be Blood, 1940s Style
When Cherokee Lansing's (Susan Hayward) is killed due to long running issues with Bruce Tanner (Lloyd Gough) and his oil company she is determined to get revenge. With the help of old friend Jim Redbird (Pedro Armend?riz) and oil expert Brad Brady (Robert Preston) she sets about setting up her own oil business to hurt Tanner where it hurts most. But what started as a desire to get revenge turns in to all out obsession for wealth and power despite both Brad and Jim becoming concerned for Cherokee's motives.
Considering its 90 minutes running length "Tulsa" has three story ideas going on which is quite a bit. On one hand we have the story of Cherokee who wanting to revenge the death of her father plans to hit the man she blames for his death where it hurts. We also have the battle going on between those with ranching in their blood and the oil men who will do what ever they like when it comes to drilling for oil. But then we have some romantic conflict as Cherokee finds herself with three men in her life; her old ranch friend Jim, the dashing Brad but also the wealthy Bruce all who take a shine to the flame haired beauty. It makes it a drama which makes me think of 80s soap opera "Dallas" with this tale of oil, greed and romance.
Now the men in "Tulsa" deliver strong performances with Pedro Armend?riz bringing out the rancher an old friend side of his character whilst Lloyd Gough plays it on the confident side as the wealthy Bruce. And then there is Robert Preston who gives us a young man going places who wants Cherokee by his side the whole way. But the most entertaining performance comes from Susan Hayward who makes her character driven but also someone who is a gambler and who enjoys playing the men in her life off against each other, enjoying the attention. It means that whilst "Tulsa" has this drama about the changing face of the land around Tulsa the movie is very much about Cherokee and how the oil business changes her.
What this all boils down to is that "Tulsa" is an entertaining drama, a bit of a soap opera but with the good acting and dialogue to prevent it from feeling over the top. Plus it has Susan Hayward delivering a knock out performance as the manipulative Cherokee who becomes changed by wealth.