When the government opens up the Oklahoma territory for settlement, restless Yancey Cravat claims a plot of the free land for himself and moves his family there from Wichita. A newspaperman, lawyer, and just about everything else, Cravat soon becomes a leading citizen of the boom town of Osage. Once the town is established, however, he begins to feel confined once again, and heads for the Cherokee Strip, leaving his family behind. During this and other absences, his wife Sabra must learn to take care of herself and soon becomes prominent in her own right. Written by
George S. Davis <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Arguably the only winner of the Best Picture Oscar to lose money during its initial release. The film received excellent critical reviews, but its initial financial failure was blamed on its being released during one of the darkest periods of the Great Depression. See more »
During the period of the film set in 1907, Yancey is the Progressive Party's candidate for governor of Oklahoma. The Progressive Party did not form until 1912, and then disbanded after Theodore Roosevelt's unsuccessful third party candidacy that year. See more »
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.
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