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  • This gargantuan war-horse of a western epic won the Oscar as the Best Film of 1930/31 proving from the earliest days of the Academy it was quantity not quality that mattered and that big equalled best. Of course there wasn't much in the way competition, ("East Lynne", "The Front Page", "Skippy" and "Trader Horn"). Much better films like "Morocco", "The Criminal Code" and "Little Caesar" failed to make the short-list. But it is still surprisingly robust and enjoyable in the way that these kind of movies sometimes are, (it's certainly a lot less po-faced than the dire 1960 remake), and it has some really good things in it; a great church meeting sequence and a very well staged hold-up culminating in a great moment when a young black boy is killed and is ignored in the general mêlée and is a brave scene for the period, and a sequence probably deemed too contentious for the remake.

    The acting, too, is a cut above the average for the time. A young, fresh-faced Irene Dunne is lovely and shows considerable promise here and Richard Dix has a kind of screen presence. It's ham and he plays to the gallery but he's very likable. Estelle Taylor is touching as the whore with the obligatory heart of gold and Edna May Oliver is very funny but in too small a role.

    It runs out of steam before the end. It's top heavy in the plot department, (based, as it is, on an Edna Ferber door-stopper), and characters come and go without making much of an impression. Often listed in polls of the worst films to win the Best Picture Oscar it has vigour and a complete lack of pretension. I'll take it any day over "A Beautiful Mind".
  • The outstanding but admittedly dated "Cimarron" dazzled audiences so much that it was a runaway Best Picture Oscar winner in 1931. The film is novelist Edna Ferber's epic tale of the early American settlements of Oklahoma from 1889 and goes to the economic unrest of the Stock Market crash of 1929. Richard Dix (Oscar-nominated) immediately moves his family out to the untamed land and starts a new life. Wife Irene Dunne (Oscar-nominated) has doubts not only about the new land, but also about her husband's adventurous nature. Dix is an individualist with itchy feet and thus he comes and goes as he pleases, but always seems to come through for his family and his adopted state when the chips are down. "Cimarron" is an abbreviated history of a land which was once wild and untamed that slowly became modern by the early-20th Century. The views upon African-Americans and Native Americans is given much air time here. Ferber's equally riveting "Giant" posed similar questions towards Texas' views of women and Hispanic Americans. She was a truly gifted writer and her novels were both adapted into stunning motion picture experiences. Wesley Ruggles' (Oscar-nominated) direction is a bit prodding and the film does stall a bit due to its length, but overall "Cimarron" is an important American movie that if nothing else created the legitimate Western genre. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
  • A charismatic Kansas lawyer takes his bride to the Oklahoma Territory's CIMARRON Country to start a newspaper in the violent, rawboned town of Osage.

    Edna Ferber's sprawling novel of frontier life comes to the big screen in a film deemed fine enough to win a few Oscars, including Best Picture. It was one of the first great epics of the Sound Era and is still very entertaining to watch. Occasionally there is a bit of overacting, perhaps, and technical difficulties with the microphones can be discerned while trying to hear the stars' voices clearly during some crowd scenes, but this in no way detracts from the enjoyment of viewing the film.

    The performance of Richard Dix as pioneer & dreamer Yancey Cravat has been criticized as being too florid and overripe, but this is unfair. The popular actor had his roots in silent films when acting techniques were somewhat different, but this robust style perfectly suits the energetic wanderlust of his character. Anything less than abundant enthusiasm would look silly in a fellow called upon to deliver a sermon and shoot an outlaw almost simultaneously, vigorously champion the rights of fallen women and racial minorities and yet still blithely abandon his family for long years as he follows his own star of destiny. Call it what you may, Dix's performance can certainly never be tagged as being dull.

    Irene Dunne, as Yancey's wife Sabra - his ‘Sugar' - provides the calm emotional center for the film. She is the one who holds the family and newspaper together while her husband is off bringing civilization to other frontiers. She is even able to achieve substantial business and political importance. What saves Dunne's performance from becoming too sweet is the story giving her a few personality wrinkles to deal with, most notably her determination to destroy the town's bawdy house madam (well played by Estelle Taylor) and her intense bigotry towards the local Indians. Her growth as a human being is juxtaposed with that of Oklahoma's expansion as a state.

    Some fine character actors provide prime entertainment value: stuttering Roscoe Ates as the Cravats' faithful printer; George E. Stone as a gentle Jewish peddler who becomes a firm family friend; Stanley Fields as a town tough who tangles with the wrong hombre; William Collier Jr in a brief, vibrant outlaw role as The Kid; and Eugene Jackson as the young Black servant who gives the ultimate sacrifice of loyalty to the Cravats. Marvelous gossipy Edna May Oliver, replete with snooty sniffs & piercing glances, neatly tucks all her scenes as a society matron into her handbag and stalks off with them.

    With production costs of 1.5 million dollars, RKO could give CIMARRON excellent production values, featuring crowds of extras and very realistic sets. A few of the scenes are classics and remain in the mind for a long time: the 1889 Land Rush sequence which opens the film; the church service in the saloon; the gun battle in the dusty street. It is very interesting to watch how the town of Osage changes during the movie, from a dangerous dirty settlement to an Oklahoma metropolis in 1930, all achieved most convincingly for the screen.

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    The Cimarron is a wild & unruly river that arises in New Mexico and runs for about 600 miles before becoming a tributary of the Arkansas River near Tulsa, Oklahoma. The word is Old Spanish and refers to the thickets along the River and the bighorn sheep which inhabited them
  • blseinberg14 December 2005
    Warning: Spoilers
    (SPOILER re the fate of Isaiah)

    Being a huge fan of Edna Ferber's novels and having watched the 1960 and 1931 film adaptations of "Cimarron" back to back, I detested the 1960 version for the liberties it took with my beloved book, and loved the 1931 version for staying true to Ferber.

    What some have called "overacting" from Richard Dix I see as capturing perfectly the character of Yancey Cravat, a man of sweeping gestures and grand oratory -- a "drama king." His assigning Isaiah, the black servant boy, to guard the house instead of accompanying the family to church in "Yancey drag" is actually a compassionate gesture intended to spare the boy from ridicule by the town.

    And Irene Dunne's Sabra is the quintessential Ferber heroine, who starts out as a starry-eyed innocent and learns the meaning, over the years, of "life is what happens while you're making other plans," emerging in the autumn of life as a strong, wise, magnificent woman. (See Barbara Stanwyck's Selina DeJong in "So Big" for another example of a Ferberella who translates well to the screen.) And she eventually gets over her prejudice against Indians and becomes their champion.

    Isaiah does embody some unpleasant stereotypes, but this, too is from the book. He was originally a servant of Sabra's family, old-school Mississippians transplanted to Wichita for whom emancipation was a mere technicality. They didn't beat or sell their servants, but demanded total subservience and obedience, as they had in slave days.

    **SPOILER** Isaiah's death is the one big glaring deviation from the book, which gives him a far more grisly ending. **END SPOILER**

    Worthy of the best picture Oscar? No. But a faithful adaptation of the source material? For someone who loves her books and has seen her share of favorite books butchered on film, from "Heidi" to "Needful Things," a big yes.
  • This is a comment following up to a previous post. Richard Dix was a big silent film star before Cimarron. He was one of the few silent actors who successfully made the transition to talking pictures. I hardly recognized Irene Dunne at first, this was only her second film. This film is fun to watch as the talent of the actors is evident. People must keep in mind that the sound quality, sets, etc. were all still relatively new in 1931. Actors and directors were accustomed to silent movies. The costumes, performances, and sets are quite good, in my opinion. Once gets a feel for how the home life, new life in the southwest, and the timeless snobbery of the town "ladies." The courtroom scenes are intense. The writing was realistic for the time period. Scathing accusatory and judgmental remarks to browbeat and break the woman's spirit. A very moving picture.
  • "Sprawling" is the adjective most often associated with novels and movies-from-novels by Edna Ferber. Her stories span geographical locations, family generations and economic strata, usually with a strong female at the center. In the case of CIMARRON it's the story of how Oklahoma became a state seen through the life of Sabra Cravat (Irene Dunne), demure wife of gun-totin' macho dude Yancey Cravat (Richard Dix). It's a fascinating and not pleasant relationship: He always hankering for another risky adventure and she wanting to settle down and be respectable. He is also politically minded, a fighter for the underdog, defender of the prostitute ("victim of the social order") and the Indians (robbed of their land and cheated thereafter), dispenser of frontier justice against the bad guys (but only when provoked to the limit) and literate to boot (frequently quoting Shakespeare, Milton and the Bible). The film is splendidly produced with well staged action sequences (particularly the opening Oklahoma land rush which puts even DeMille's exodus to the Red Sea to shame) and realistic recreation of a filthy, crowded, violent and anarchic boom town which gradually gentrifies as the decades pass. Interiors are similarly authentic. Wesley Ruggles directs multiple crowd scenes with great mastery. And the whole film is structured in fully realized episodes beginning with a title card and a year (1889 to start, 1930 to finish) and ending with a close up on the character at hand as the screen slowly fades to black. The Dix character is heroic in the old style and though many modern viewers find his acting preposterous, I disagree. I think he is the perfect actor for the character he is playing. Yes, such a person would definitely be out of place in today's urban world, but so what? We aren't watching a contemporary story anyway. The supporting cast, particularly George E. Stone as a Jewish peddler who is defended against ruffians by Dix, Edna May Oliver as the pushy, judgmental neighbor and Stanley Fields as a grizzled sociopath are my favorites.

    Ferber's feelings about intolerance always informed her stories and make us think. Seeing a film like this 78 years after it was made also reminds us that although the US has come a long way, the consciousness that all was not well was firmly operating even back then and available for wide public consumption. CIMARRON works as pure entertainment as well as history; in fact the film and novel themselves are now history and have been folded into the larger history of this country.

    The only problem technically is the soundtrack which has become fuzzy. Maybe a pristine print is lurking around somewhere. And the supporting character of a black house servant played by Eugene Jackson will raise PC hackles from the early scene in which he is perched on a platform above the family dinner table fanning the white employers with bird feathers through one degrading interaction after another with whites. But this film was made in the age when most black actors (and black people) played servile or childlike roles, so it is not a surprise to see the practice here.
  • This is a very dated western but so much so it makes it interesting to watch in spots. However, it's too long - 131 minutes - and I watched it on a VHS tape in which the sound quality wasn't the best, which helped make it too tough to watch in one sitting. Yet, for its uniqueness and strange-looking characters and strange scenes, it made it worthwhile to stick it through to the end. However, the first half of the film is a lot better than the second half.

    This was Irene Dunne's first starring role and, frankly, I didn't recognize her. She was anything but pretty and certainly looked different. Her role was that a steady person who keeps her marriage together but has a major flaws, including a real prejudice against the local Indians. In the end, sees the error of her ways. Richard Dix plays her husband. He overacts and looks cartoonish most of the time. This movie was in the beginning of "talkies" and Dix still looked like he belonged in silent movies. He marries Dunne and quickly leaves to go wandering. He comes home briefly and leaves again....and it's okay. Strange.

    The story revolves around the two leads (Yancy and Sabra Cravat") and the their town which grows from nothing into a big city by the late 1920s. Seeing that city grow was interesting.

    Included in this movie was the strangest "gospel meeting" I've ever seen. It begins well-intentioned, but becomes so spiritually weak and so secular that it makes a farce out of the whole proceedings. You have to see this to believe it. I just shook my head in amazement about how Hollywood has never had a clue when it came to topics like this.

    I got rid of the VHS long ago but, if given the opportunity, now that it is out on DVD, would give it another look. It's almost a curiosity piece.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Yes, there is a ridiculously obsequious black character. And a tacked-on ending. But I think the characters in this film, including the white ones, are intentional stereotypes intended to suggest the character of the westward-expanding American people. In that light, the tragic (and almost unnoticed) demise of the black character is a criticism both of his obsequiousness and the white characters who take his loyalty for granted. And in the same light, the hero's sudden appearance at the end (which also takes place in 1930, the year the movie was made) suggests a hope that the unruly American energy that claimed the West is now being channeled, noticed or not, into the betterment of modern civilization.

    That being said, this movie is slow by modern standards, and much of the dialog either wasn't recorded well, or didn't completely survive the transfer to video. Still, there are some memorable scenes: the Oklahoma land rush (literally a race with a starting line) and Yancey the frontiersman/preacher/reporter giving a sermon in a saloon, two guns drawn, leveled at the crowd (at hip level) as he intones "God bless this community."
  • Seeing Cimarron is comparable to looking at old pictures, with the difference that they move and speak. It makes you go back in time to 1931, and also it shows you how people at that time would look at the end of the 19th century. Even though it is a `talkie' you have the feeling you are seeing a silent film. After all they were closer in years to the days of the wild west, than we are from the year the film was made. Richard Dix gives a `silent movie' performance as Yancey, the guy who had `ants in his pants' and could not stay anywhere for a long time, but would show up at crucial moments. Edna May Oliver as Mrs. Wyatt gives an incredibly actual performance, but just the opposite happens with William Collier Jr. as `The Kid', who seems to have only one expression on his face. Cimarron, nowadays, is not a film for anyone, only for those who have curiosity about old movies and what they show us about the past.
  • maestro-4517 February 2006
    Warning: Spoilers
    I have seen this film a few times, most recently on DVD. It is clearly an old film, just out of the silent era. Yancy is quite the blow hard, but actually a believable character. The various title cards that show the passage of time and the evolution of Osage from a bunch of mud and shacks into a modern city is extraordinary. By the time we get up to 1930 when Sabra is the first lady of the city, while Yancy is gone who knows where, we feel we know her very well. Her speech at the luncheon is most affecting and shows that Irene Dunn knows how to pull off a great performance. Later when she embraces the long gone Yancy who asks her 'are you alright,' it is heart wrenching. As he declares Sabra, 'wife and mother, stainless woman, hide me in your love.' My my it doesn't get much better than that. Cimarron really does look like an actual artifact from the 19th century, and if we view it on those terms, it holds up better than most films.
  • Big budget, sweeping epic and actually a decent film to boot. Cimarron covers forty years of frontier life in Oklahoma. A large part of the film rests on the shoulders of the flamboyant character Yancey Cravat (Richard Dix). Yancey embodies the spirit of the kind of men who build cities. He is a newspaper man, a politician, a lawyer, a preacher, a family man and a gunfighter. When he talks, people listen, when he decides to do something, he does it, and when he draws his guns, men die. Richard Dix may not have been the most natural actor in the world, but his broad build, booming voice and intense energy lent itself to the strong, forceful character of Yancey Cravat. Cimarron is also quite an impressive production. The opening Oklahoma land race is captured every bit as well as it was sixty years later in Ron Howard's Far and Away. The costumes, sets and decor show us the passage of time as a small shanty town develops over the years into a major city. Like most films high on production value, though, Cimarron is low on substance. The storyline is too broad to be engaging and there is no real emotional core to the film. Nonetheless, it is entertaining and that is enough to make it worth watching.
  • Out of sight for decades, Radio Pictures' 1931 Academy Award winner was supposed to be reissued in 1951 after RKO Radio had their extremely successful reissue of KING KONG. It never happened. Not until VHS came along. We finally watched it tonight, and it holds up well.

    Covering primarily one man's journey from the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1886 and continuing through the Oklahoma Oil Rush of 1907 and on to 1927 when they had automobiles and streetcars, CIMARRON cuts a wide sweep. The amazing thing to watch is that all the actors and actresses are just like real people and at no time appear like actors speaking dialog over-and-over-till-they-get-it-right. CIMARRON is like a real trip to Oklahoma a hundred years ago.

    I recommend this movie as a must-see for classic movie fans; as I dis-recommend the 1960 MGM remake - an awful misfire that was extremely irritating to watch. If you ever saw John Wayne in THE BIG TRAIL you have some idea of the realistic approach to the 1931 CIMARRON.
  • No, this is not a historical movie though it chronicles a time period when the west went from rugged to "civilized." Irene Dunn as Sabra is magnificent as a pioneer woman that went from reserved and somewhat fearful to a strong businesswoman and leader in the community. Yancy Cravat as Dix is often accused of overacting in this film. Yet his character is full of life with an uncontrolled exurburance. To Dix, being where the action is was what was most important. He was happy to stay in one place until life settled down. Then the restlessness would begin. And that is part of the allure of the settling of the west. The need to move into the unknown. And that is where Dix was torn--he dearly loved his wife; yet, he had to be part of building something new. That drive is summed up in the statement that truly defines this movie: "If everyone took root and squatted, there would never be any new country." Yet, through all of this, Sabra never stopped loving him. She kept his name as proprietor and owner even though she was the one who ran and built the newspaper he founded. This is a movie of passionate love between two people and of the passion both had for building. A fine choice for an Oscar.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    050: Cimarron (1931) - released 1/26/31; viewed 5/13/06.

    Gandhi is released from prison again.

    BIRTHS: Charles Nelson Reilly, James Earl Jones, Sam Cooke.

    KEVIN: Cimarron, the first western to win the Academy Award for Best Picture back in 1931, is the story of Yancey Cravat, a settler in the old west who takes his family to Oklahoma where he starts a successful newspaper business and becomes an all around town hero as the film tracks the Cravat clan from the Oklahoma land rush in 1889 all the way up to the present day. After the first hour of Cimarron, I had dismissed it as a racist, misogynist fossil of a film. The Cravat family keeps a Negro slave, the wide-eyed doofus Isaiah. The main character Yancey (Richard Dix) never listens to his long-suffering wife Sabra (Irene Dunne), and is always telling her to "go to bed" when she complains to him. There's a lot of Yancey going, "Stand aside, dear. I've got to be macho." Then the second half rolled through, and I began to reconsider. The movie is still severely dated, and the things I said about the first half still stand. Yancey is never a likable human being for one second of the film. But it seems the episodic sentiments of the film evolve with the times. Their son Cim marries an Indian girl, and the father approves. Yancey (in an uneven scene) defends a local woman in court who originally stole his land, passionately standing up for the woman's poor lot in life in the ever-changing times. He also, after single-mindedly settling on Indian land for years, takes up the good fight for Indian citizenship. Sabra becomes a congresswoman later in life, and runs the household and the company while Yancey is out pursuing other adventures (what a lout.) Irene Dunne is superb and carries the film beautifully, even when all she can do is be the long-suffering wife of the hero. I always found myself on her side.

    DOUG: We power on through '31 with that year's Oscar winner for Best Picture: Cimarron, also the first western to win the honor. All well and good, except for the fact that I didn't like this movie much at all. I never found Yancey (Richard Dix) particularly heroic, just a macho jerk who's more interested in settling in Indian territory and running off for adventures than in looking out for his wife and kids. When his wife Sabra tells him that she wants to go back to Wichita and doesn't want to raise her kids out here in a place where men shoot at each other without provocation, he rather condescendingly sends her to bed. Whenever she makes a valid argument about anything, he launches off on some speech about God-knows-what. Then there's the scene where Sabra has Dixie on trial, and Yancey decides to defend her; we never get a clear idea about what she's on trial for ("public nuisance" is all Sabra says), and I wasn't too pleased to see Yancey's impassioned and off-topic argument get her acquitted. And don't get me started on Isaiah, the family's dim-witted (and black) slave. If you're looking for the reason why no one talks about this particular Best Picture winner anymore, he's it. As for good points (and there are some), the second half is better than the first, with Yancey fighting the good fight for Indian citizenship. The movie does also give us some good moments about settling in the hostile territory of Oklahoma. I was rather surprised that the movie takes us all the way to the present day (or 1929, close enough), and shows Irene Dunne with some impressive old-age make-up. In the end, if we had seen this film before, we would have definitely skipped it this time and written a retrospective review.

    BTW, a couple of statistics: This is the 50th full-length film we've watched on our chronological odyssey. Also, at 124 minutes, it is the longest film we're watching from 1931. Interesting how the average running time has risen over the years.

    Last film: Little Caesar (1931). Next film: City Lights (1931).
  • After starting off quite well, this Western starts to get bogged down, and it ends up being quite a bit less effective than it could have been. It does have a handful of good action scenes, especially the opening land rush sequence, which is exciting and is done nicely. And it also has good period details in many of the scenes throughout the movie. But it just has too many faults to be very satisfying.

    The story in itself is an interesting one, and had good potential. It starts off with the Oklahoma land rush, and then focuses mostly on one family as they deal with their new surroundings and build new lives in the years that follow. One big problem is that Richard Dix, as the lead character, over-indulges himself with practically every line. At first, you kind of like his earnest, energetic character, but it doesn't take long at all for his style to become annoying. Then, most of the other characters are one-dimensional, and some are unfortunate stereotypes. There are a few good scenes, but many others that drag on far too long. Then too, while quite a bit happens, there are too many times when the characters' decisions don't make enough sense to maintain credibility.

    If you enjoy older Westerns, there might be just enough here to make it worth watching once. But, given how highly it seems to have been thought of in its own time, it's a bit of a disappointment to those of us who enjoy the classics. It's probably an example of how difficult it is to evaluate movies, or other creative works, in their own time. There were probably a lot of viewers in 1931 who saw parts of their own lives in this movie, and this blinded them to its obvious flaws. In the same way, many of today's mediocre films are widely praised only because they tap into current trends, and will seem equally shallow to future generations who can view them more objectively. "Cimarron" does have its pluses, but it's not good enough to be of more than passing interest now.
  • hcoursen20 August 2006
    This is a sprawl -- like Ferber's novels themselves -- and it remains unshaped, a chronicle rather than a constructed narrative. That said, the dusty scenes where the town of Osage rises effectively parallel the early efforts of Hollywood to construct a new medium. The awkwardness actually works as as kind of subtext once the family has moved from "civilized" Kansas to the territory. (Incidentally, no one has mentioned that the great 1943 musical, "Oklahoma," deals with the same history). Dix is a silent screen star -- over-acting, overly gestural, over-posturing -- caught in a new world of sound. That tension works less well, but the issue of Yancy's taking off for years at a time is simply not resolved. Where has he been when he returns after a five year absence? No one says, but, perhaps more strange, no one asks. Dunne's character grows up, shedding her prejudices, thus giving Oklahoma "permission" to join our Union, with its "liberty and justice for all." This one is worth watching for historical purposes, not so much for entertainment. Estelle Taylor, Jack Dempsey's wife, also a holdover from the silents, is good here, though seen too seldom and not given a potenitally intriguing link to Yancy. His interest is purely altruistic and that strains credulity.
  • wes-connors21 February 2011
    Adventuresome and scholarly Richard Dix (as Yancey Cravat) joins the 1889 Oklahoma land rush, and helps settle the territory, with loyal homesteading wife Irene Dunne (as Sabra). His oratory skills as a lawyer and work as a newspaper editor help Mr. Dix defend the downtrodden through the ensuing decades. Notably, Mr. Dix is supportive of Native American (Indian) rights. Dix also helps independent woman and presumed prostitute Estelle Taylor (as Dixie Lee). After some decades pass, we meet the title character, wild and unruly son Don Dillaway (as Cimarron "Cim" Cravat).

    "Cimarron" is mostly recalled as the first western to win an "Academy Award" for best film. Some may think it should be recalled as the first time an award was given to prop up the box office of a flop. But, the red ink was due to RKO spending so much on the film; while not recouping its cost, "Cimarron" was one of the biggest box office hits of 1931. It was also a triple crown "Best Picture" award winner, with prizes from "Photoplay" and "Film Daily" included. Those awards were also the ones bestowed upon "The Covered Wagon" (1923), which was the world's previous western standard.

    None of this means "Cimarron" is anything more than a swaggeringly average western, with a lot of production cost. Some of it is so dull, the "ethnic" characters emerge as most perversely entertaining. It's difficult to justify the acting nominations for Dix and Ms. Dunne. Director Wesley Ruggles manages the crowds well and adds a few artful moments, like the clever crucifying positioning of Jewish character George E. Stone (as Sol Levy), after some bullying. Edna May Oliver (as Tracy Wyatt) also makes the most of her role, employing many mannerisms seen later in Carol Burnett.

    ***** Cimarron (1/26/31) Wesley Ruggles ~ Richard Dix, Irene Dunne, Estelle Taylor, George E. Stone
  • This is a Western and Westerns don't usually get Best Picture Oscars, but coming out in 1931, the Academy was apparently much more willing to bestow this honor on this type of film. Unfortunately, when seen today, the film seems terribly ordinary and possessing relatively lousy sound. However, some of this can't be blamed on the picture. Poor sound was a problem with many movies from 1927-1931. Plus, a lot of the clichés you see in this Western weren't clichés when the film premiered. Still, even when you consider this, I find it really hard to imagine that this movie was indeed the best film of the year because it just doesn't seem that out of the ordinary. Sorry, but I wasn't bowled over by this story--it seems like just another early Western.

    For a better Western film starring Richard Dix, try THE CONQUERORS. The sound is much better and the story is far more engaging.
  • Not all films made in 1931 are this creaky, and the fact that this was "Best Picture" must have given even greater impetus to the development of television.

    Typical of all Ferber novels, it isn't possible to bring the entire story to the screen, to say nothing of developing character. Dix -- so stolid in the first third of the movie -- does an about face, but no one knows why and it makes no sense. And what is there about Dunne that makes makes her so stoical? Edna May Oliver's scenes are priceless, as usual.

    This film has a role to play in the history of cinema, but it is long and boring.
  • Not the worst(Crash), but to be honest I found Cimarron rather dull. It pained me to say that as I am a fan of film, old and new, good and bad. It is lavishly photographed and the scenery is beautiful, Irene Dunne is good and Max Steiner's music is rousing and dramatic.

    However, some parts have dated quite badly, particularly the one with the gospel meeting. The dialogue is mostly poor and heavy handed, while the story is bloated and has lots of unfocused scenes that could have been excised. The characters are clichéd,- not always a bad thing unless the component is poorly explored or acted out, which was the case with Cimarron- the film is much too long, the direction is flat and the pace drags on and on. The acting didn't do much for me either, Dunne was good though, but Richard Drix overacts and comes across as embarrassingly pompous.

    Overall, a dull film, albeit with some good points and worth seeing for historical interest, and one of my least favourite Best Picture winners. 4/10 Bethany Cox
  • In fairness to Richard Dix's overacting, Charles Bickford, one of the great character actors ever, also overacted atrociously in "Anna Christie," which was made exactly one year earlier than "Cimarron." The majority of movies didn't go from being silent to talking until 1929 and "Cimarron" was filmed in 1930, so both these films were real early talking films and the performers had not learned to down scale their performances.

    The editing and cinematography were outstanding, even revolutionary for that era. The film needs to be viewed in a historic context and not compared to current films. I do agree that "Cimarron" does not hold up as well during the march of time from 1930 to 2008 as does "Public Enemy," "Little Caesar," "Scarface" but it was a complex and ambitious film adaptation of a novel by an outstanding writer, Edna Ferber.

    Richard Dix's character does stand up for and vehemently support fairness to Indians and prostitutes, which was a revolutionary idea for a movie made in 1930.

    I did notice that Eugene Jackson, the young black teenager, worked for 60 years in the film business, including a recurring role in "Stanford and Son," and in "Julia." Richard Dix, a major star in silent films starting in the early 1920s, peaked around the time of "Cimarron" and by the second half of the 1930s was stuck in B films but did continue his career and stared in films until his retirement in 1947.

    Irene Dunne went on to super stardom for the next 20 years and made quite a few classics (check out her film list in her biography.) It is amazing!

    I want to compliment the other writers who are classic film lovers but do want to state that too many readers check the not helpful box instead of the helpful box when evaluating the reviews of others. I feel that they are being too picky. After all, we are a select group of people who appreciate old films and should have support each other more as a group, unless the review is vindictive or totally uninformed.
  • Forn5526 October 2011
    In a year that saw the release of "City Lights," "Little Caesar," and "The Blue Angel," "Cimarron" was surely the oddest choice to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, but win it did, although the award failed to translate into big bucks at the box office. At over two hours, the movie is both long (for its era) and strangely sluggish given its action-packed western setting. Adapted from the novel by Edna Ferber, "Cimarron" is interesting primarily for the celluloid collision of two schools of cinematic acting. The first, exemplified by Richard Dix playing two-fisted, editor-pioneer Yancey Cravat, is the school of silent-film histrionics; the second, is the more naturalistic school of screen acting which found in Irene Dunne (playing Dix's loyal wife, Sabra) one of its more sensitive and enduring interpreters. The two styles don't mix well. Dix is all ham and bluster; shaking his fists, gesturing like a road-company actor playing Julius Caesar, casting his eyes up to heaven and ringing the bells loudly on every emotional change his character undergoes. Dunne, by contrast, engages in a quieter duet with the camera; one that allows her character to develop slowly over the course of the movie. The disparity between the two styles is unsettling; the viewer is left with the impression of having seen the same movie through two different sets of lenses. The fact that "Cimarron" is both incredibly dated and blatantly racist doesn't help much, either.

    All that said, however, the movie's still worth watching, if only as an example of an early Hollywood blockbuster epic. The opening "land rush" sequence (with a cast of thousands) is compelling and cinematically sophisticated, even by today's standards. And there are several worthwhile cameo turns including one by Edna May Oliver, who manages to steal every scene she's in.
  • Despite it's awards for best picture and best adapted screenplay, this first film version of the popular soap-opera/western novel is badly dated and with plenty of overacting, though it's really a handsome-looking production. The best thing about this, is the atmospheric cinematography and the fantastic costumes and sets, particularly in the exterior scenes of the growing town of Osage.

    Richard Dix certainly has great screen presence, but here he's kind of hammy, acting in a manner more suitable to silent film or the stage.

    I can't help but compare this to the 1960 remake, of which this version is actually quite preferable. The remake starts out vastly superior, but squanders it's entertainment value when it turns into the cinematic equivalent of nails on a blackboard, while this version starts out as a mixed-bag and stays pretty much consistent the whole way through.

    Still, much like the remake, this suffers greatly after Dix takes a hike the first time around and the picture becomes rambling, winding down to an unsatisfying conclusion.
  • disdressed1220 October 2007
    Cimarron traces the early history of Oklahoma,starting with the land rush in 1899.from there it spans forty years in the development of that land into an eventual American state and the advances of technology that came with it.the story itself is an epic tale,so its focus is pretty broad.this sort of makes it a bit impersonal at times.it starts off slow,but somewhere along the lines it picks up and becomes somewhat compelling.i also found it interesting how people behaved back in that time,at least according to the movie.it does feel a bit like a silent movie at times.some of the acting feels over exaggerated.that sort of makes sense,since talking pictures had just recently replaced silent films as the movie medium.so,many of the actors would have been used to acting in silent pictures.nevertheless,i still enjoyed it,for the most part.for me,Cimarron is a 7/10
  • Any fan of the early talking films should enjoy and appreciate this movie. Indeed, it does age poorly when compared with contemporary cinema, but is surely one of the better films of its time. The depiction of Isaiah has been called racist and has been severely criticized. However, we should remember the filmmakers were examining a period in American history that was extremely bigoted (late 1800's) and were living a pretty bigoted time themselves (1931). Critics should note this films depiction of a strong and willful female as well as its message of compassion for the American Indian.
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