The Texas Oilman, Part 1

Giant Poster 1956, Source: IMDb

1956, Warner Bros. Pictures

One of the recurring stereotypes in energy movies is that of the Texas Oilman. There are far too many Texas Oilman characters in movies and TV to list, but here’s a start:

  • – Clark Gable, Boomtown (1940)
  • – James Dean, Giant (1956)
  • – Rock Hudson, Written on the Wind (1956)
  • – James Garner, The Wheeler Dealers (1963)
  • – John Wayne, Hellfighters (1968)
  • – Burt Lancaster, Local Hero (1983)
  • – Chris Cooper, Syriana (2005)
  • – Frances McDormand and Matt Damon, Promised Land (2012)

A few things jump out at me from this list. Early on, the list of Texas oilman characters (at least through the early 1960s) included the biggest and most dashing young stars of the day (Dean, Hudson, Gable, Garner). From the late 1960s through the 1980s, the Texas oilmen were still played by some of the most famous stars (Wayne, Lancaster), but they were no longer young and dashing. That shift represents the aging of the oil industry; the young wildcatters of the 1930s through 1950s had become aged executives in the 1970s and 1980s. More recently, the oilmen have been portrayed by character actors (Cooper), an indication that the oilman while still relevant is no longer center stage, or female actors (McDormand), an indication of how the industry has evolved with the times.

The original text listed Cary Grant as the star of Boomtown and referenced his name instead of Gable’s in the body of the post. The correction was made January 26, 2014.

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