Power | Glimpses of Boomtown Texas

Dallas was broadcast in “over 90 countries from Turkey to Australia, from Hong Kong to Great Britain, [and the world witnessed] empty streets and a dramatic drop in water consumption when an episode” aired.

Ien Ang, Watching Dallas: Soap Opera and the Melodramatic Imagination

On the air from 1978 to 1991, the CBS blockbuster program Dallas solidified national and global stereotypes about the typical Texas oil family: Swaggering, scheming, and very, very rich. With a single gusher atop a Beaumont salt dome at the turn of the twentieth century, Texas had embarked on its own industrial revolution. Whole cities developed overnight, while independent wildcatters and newly formed corporations experienced a rapid increase in wealth. Within a few years, the Lone Star State transformed from a bountiful source of cattle and cotton to a global economic authority. Texas and Texans would never be the same.

Numerous authors, scholars, and journalists have examined documents, newspapers, and photographs to tell the evocative story of the Texas oil and gas industry. POWER: GLIMPSES OF BOOMTOWN TEXAS explores what moving images reveal to us that other historical registers do not. The fictional world of Dallas represents a certain cinematic Texas dynasty, but home movies show the impact on real Texas oil tycoons, roughnecks, and truckers. Industrial and promotional films illustrate the pitches made to entice individuals and businesses to the booming state. Newsreels and local television often highlight the dangers posed to oil workers, while educational and government films soberly consider lasting economic and environmental effects.

POWER forms not only a visual record of Texas oil operations but also a compelling examination of how the industry produces power beyond energy utility. For the state’s widespread oil and gas production also manifests considerable social power, national economic power, worldwide political power, and enduring cultural power. Power well suited for Hollywood entertainment, from Boom Town (1940) and Giant (1956) to AMC’s television adaptation of The Son and, of course, back to Dallas.