Al Jennings of Oklahoma (1951)
“The whole true-to-life story of THE LAST OF THE GREAT OUTLAWS!”
Director: Ray Nazarro
Cast: Dan Duryea, Gale Storm, Dick Foran
Synopsis: A bank robber tries to go straight after serving his time in prison.
Dan Duryea won a rare leading role in Al Jennings of Oklahoma, a modest b-movie from veteran Western director Ray Nazarro that claims to be based on the real-life exploits of Al Jennings, a lawyer turned robber who enjoyed a career in politics after serving five years for his crimes (nowadays, it seems, most lawyers bypass the criminal phase by combining both villainy and politics in one career…)
Duryea was always a charismatic actor, especially when he was portraying villains, and he does a good job here of making Jennings a likeable villain. In order to do this, the movie has him practically forced into a life of crime because of a legal injustice that permits the killer of his brother to walk free. When Jennings pays a visit on Marsden (John Dehner), the lawyer who gunned down his brother, Marsden pulls a gun on him, forcing Jennings to shoot him in self defence and go on the run with his brother Frank (Dick Foran). By putting a price on his head, the law then makes it impossible for Jennings to go straight even in a state that has no extradition agreement with Oklahoma because of bounty hunters trying to force him back across state lines.
The film takes plenty of liberties with the truth apparently, but that’s nothing unusual for Hollywood biopics from this period, and the story provides reasonable, if unremarkable, entertainment, especially with a running time of only 79 minutes.
(Reviewed 24th May 2012)