Annie Oakley was a woman who could shoot a gun better than almost anybody alive and it is her that this film is based upon though it probably takes a few liberties here and there to make for a good motion picture.
Starring Barbara Stanwyck as the titular character, she brings Oakley to life with enthusiasm and talent and it is hard not to fall in love with her character from the first moment when she stops to admire a poster of Toby Walker and thinking him pretty. Despite being a biopic about a woman shootist and while the movie does show a bit of it, the film never really is about her being able to handle a gun instead being more of a drama with a fair amount of romance and light-hearted comedy to keep it moving along nicely. Also starring Preston Foster as the man she falls in love with, the two start it off with a little rivalry as Walker is a world champion shooter, not realizing that it would even be possible that a woman could be a better shot and yet his whole life changes when Annie enters the picture. Melvyn Douglas stars as Walker’s agent and a man who is also in love with Annie while Moroni Olsen plays Buffalo Bill, the man who would hire Annie on and make her famous all over the world. Last but not least would be Chief Thunderbird who would play Sitting Bull and a source of comedy relief throughout the picture, generating a few laughs with the man being a truly talented actor himself.
Directed by George Stevens, the man does a good job with it making Stanwyck shine while pressing forward with the romance between Annie and Walker, perhaps a bit too much as some of Annie’s real story is more than likely sacrificed, but it all works out in the end as the audience cannot help but be entertained by what is portrayed. At the very least, the basics are touched upon such as her joining Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and the fact that she got to travel, performing all sorts of stunts for royalty in many countries, but it is there that things essentially stop before delving any farther and thus, while it is a biopic, the film could have gone into things just a little deeper as she lived a full life to really show some aspects of just who Oakley actually was.
That being said, this production of Annie Oakley’s life which was released in 1935 is a lot of fun to watch, easily engaging the viewer from start to finish with one of Stanwyck’s best performances to date at this point in her career.