Spaces were neither wide nor open in most early Sound Westerns. Not so in Cimarron. It starts with one of the most renowned giddy-ups in cinema history: a thundering recreation of the 1889 Oklahoma Land Rush. From there Ci... more »marron, based on the bestselling epic by Giant and Show Boat novelist Edna Ferber, traces the generations-spanning saga of that land. There rugged Yancey Cravat (Richard Dix) and his resourceful pioneer wife Sabra (Irene Dunne) sink roots, persevere, give shape to their dreams. It's a saga of change, told with an authenticity that moviegoers who had lived through that era recognized - and told with a skill that earned it three Academy Awards * including Best Picture!« less
Edward M. Erdelac | Valley Village, CA | 03/17/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"What are some of these reviewers thinking? I just watched this movie for the first time, and considering the period, this has got to be one of the most progressive films ever to come out of the 1930's. Yes, like most, I inwardly cringed at the sight of `Isaiah' whistling and shining shoes during the opening credits, but I really felt that the character wound up being much more than a stereotypical clown (this is NOT Gone With The Wind). Consider the societal constraints under which the creators of this film worked, and I should think its obvious that they did what they could, perhaps subversively. Back then they just couldn't have a black character or a full blooded Indian character who spoke for and defended himself, but they could find a way to espouse more liberal views through the character of Cravat. In the end, by way of his actions, Isaiah certainly becomes a more heroic character than Mammy or Uncle Remus. Likewise, the treatment of womens' roles and Indian rights are amazingly far ahead of their time -even going so far as to touch on interracial marriage and the potential of women to be stronger and even more efficient than men -which at a time when the suffragists were still alive, has got to be commended. And don't forget that Dix's character is part Indian. How many films prior to `Broken Arrow' portrayed Indians in a positive light, let alone made them the hero? There is a lot of talk of Dix's overracting and praise for Dunne. I thought Dix captured the blustery over the top persona of Yancey Cravat (who was based on a real-life gunslinging attorney who was a son of Sam Houston -the courtroom soliloquy to save the prostitute is culled directly from historic record) perfectly. I particularly liked the scene where he `crows' at the bad guy in challenge. Yes, Dunne did a fine job as well portraying a character who represents all the economic and social intolerance of the period. Moreso because with the help of her firebrand husband she manages to evolve and change (and even become a Congresswoman!) beyond these small views. But I don't think Dix deserves all the criticism, nor Dunne all the credit. Yancy Cravat doesn't seem true to life because he is BIGGER than life. Nobody complains about George C. Scott's rendering of Patton, because we know Patton really was that way. Is it incomprehensible to think that such giant characters, dandily dressed and sporting pistols and purple words ever walked the land before 1930? All this talk of dating (at the risk of sounding dated) is a lot of hooey. When you watch a movie like this you've got to put yourself in the mindset of the audience of the period, or of course you're always going to think its `aged badly.'The film is shot well. The Land Rush is great, as is that scene where Dunne runs through the spattered men of the oil field at the end (it reminded me of Claudia Cardinale walking through the slew of rail workers at the end of Once Upon A Time In The West). There are shots during the emigration of the Cravats from Kansaas which also stay in the mind. The lantern hanging from the rear axle of the wagon, only illuminating the turning wheels on either side, while Cravat lowly sings his signature tune was a stroke of genius, and the Kid and his gang riding out of the dark and empty land into their campsite is well done. The sound on the VHS is a little bad, with a lot of background hiss occassionally overwhelming the dialogue. I hope if this ever gets to DVD they can fix this.I think this is an important film that has been sorely overlooked because of the decline of the western in popular culture and the finger pointing of the PC crowd. You've got to look deeper than the veneer, but I really believe this to be an astounding achievement historically, cinematically, and in the portrayal and ultimate breaking of racial stereotypes. Best Picture of 1930. I would've given it four stars, but the VHS copy isn't great. O mighty masters of DVD transfer, except Cimarron into thy trust! Amen!"
A profound old movie
Peter T. Sipos | Riyadh, Saudi Arabia | 04/30/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You know, I have to agree with Mr. Erdelac - the movie is progressive for its time. For those of you who judge a movie by the degree to which it beats a political or social drum, there is much here to admire.But there is more. There is something artistic. There is an odd balance between melodrama and something really substantial, something actually edifying to the viewer. I think a large part of why this movie doesn't descend into the sludge of cinematic slop is because the characters are all flawed, and in those flaws the viewer cannot help but recognize a touch of human frailty. Every individual in this movie is at times ridiculous and at other times supremely dignified. This, I believe, gives it a certain depth.The characters in any great movie MUST be larger than life if the piece is to avoid being either a documentary or a soap opera. But here the larger than life characters seem firmly rooted in the earth, which brings them closer to us. I like that.Overall, I think the sensitive viewer will find in this movie much that is both emotionally and philosophically stimulating, if he/she is willing to look past the inevitable veneer of 74 years. I personally consider it a particularly moving and thought-provoking cinematic experience."
"The Devil's Cabaret" is on this disc!
Cinemaguy | Hollywood, CA | 02/21/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"There is another reason to pick up this DVD: the inclusion of the pre-Hays Code short film "The Devil's Cabaret." This short was created as a vehicle for comedian Edward Buzzell, but the highlights are the sequence with secretary Mary Carlisle (who is amiably daffy and cute to boot), and the extended "nightclub from Hell" sequence where girls strip off their clothes and happily sell their souls to the Devil. This is a vintage reminder of how racy the times were before the government piddled on the party."
A Creaky Western Saga
Scott T. Rivers | Los Angeles, CA USA | 02/08/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"It's hard to believe this 1931 relic won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Wesley Ruggles' clumsy production of Edna Ferber's "Cimarron" survives only as a curio. The western saga opens with a rehash of the Oklahoma land-rush sequence from William S. Hart's 1925 classic "Tumbleweeds" and goes downhill fast. Richard Dix's cartoonish portrayal belongs in the School of Bad Acting, but Irene Dunne makes the most of her first starring role. In retrospect, "Cimarron" might have worked better as a silent film."
BEST PICTURE OSCAR, 193O.
scotsladdie | 11/11/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This sprawling Western family saga, which takes place in Oklahoma in the period from 1889 to 1929 dates badly, although it was a big early talkie. Some viewers are a bit too harsh on this film. The opening scenes depict the Oklahoma Land Rush which is positively awe inspiring: thousands of extras rush pell-mell on foot, horseback and wagon in a mindless dash to outwit & outride each other in order to gain free land. Much of the movie rests on the considerable talents of Irene Dunne, who goes from an innocent child-woman to a grand old lady in a span of 4O years. Believe it or not, this film was considered to be the cinema's finest Western until the likes of RED RIVER, HIGH NOON and SHANE made their marks. The film received rave reviews and this along with THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES were the only two RKO films which won a AA for Best Picture. The screenplay was written by Howard Estabrook, based upon the source novel by Edna Ferber. The film cost RKO 1.5 million dollars to film: it also won Oscars for Best Set Decoration and for Best Adoptation."