25 August 2012 | AlsExGal
Does not play well to a modern audience
Cimarron was an early talkie that made great strides in sound, allowing natural interaction between the cast and a more natural movement of the camera, allowing the filming of some truly spectacular scenes. The shots of the Oklahoma Land Rush stampede involve ground-breaking sound and cinematography that make it one of the most realistically shot scenes up to that time. Other well filmed scenes include those of Osage's dusty streets with the camera tracking the main characters as they walk along while hundreds of extras bustle about them, showing the life of a busy boom town shortly after the land rush. Unfortunately, this is pretty much where my praise of this film ends.
This film stars Richard Dix as Yancey Cravat, a man who was born under a wandering star. Unfortunately, that didn't stop Yancey from taking a wife and having children, it just stopped him from taking any responsibility for that same wife and children. Through the years, Yancey chases one hair-brained scheme after another while his long-suffering wife Sabra (Irene Dunne) takes responsibility for the newspaper Yancey started but abandons time and again. Sometimes Yancey's adventures keep him home, other times they take him away for years at a time. The film focuses on Yancey's adventures, while the whole time I'm wondering what Sabra is up to. In modern times, her story is much more compelling and sympathetic than Yancey's.
Richard Dix's performance is quite hammy by modern standards. You'll find yourself laughing in places that were not intended to be funny by the film's creators, and in spite of your laughter, you'll still find Yancey to be completely unlikeable. He would make a great politician in the 21st century - he is very apt at doing one thing, saying another, and still finding time for splendid oratory. Unfortunately, this film was my introduction to Dix. I didn't see another one of his films for a long time and, when I did, I was surprised to find out how good he was in his smaller non-Academy recognized performances.
Remarkably, this film won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1931. Even more remarkably, Richard Dix was nominated for Best Actor for his performance in this film. Not remarkably, Irene Dunne was nominated for Best Actress for her performance, in spite of the lack of depth of the examination of her character in the film. Thus I'd say this film is worth it just to see the very good technical achievements it featured in sound and cinematography and Dunne's performance as the long suffering Sabra.