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 <email@example.com>
Yancey Cravat, the character played by Richard Dix, was based on real-life lawyer and gunfighter Temple Houston - the son of Sam Houston, whom Dix played in Man of Conquest (1939) and upon whom the 1960s western TV series Temple Houston (1963) was based. See more »
Mr. Levy says "Moses wrote the Ten Commandments". In fact according to the bible Moses brought down the Ten Commandments that had been written in stone by God. See more »
[caption at the beginning of the film]
In 1889, President Harrison opened the vast Indian Oklahoma Lands for white settlement... 2,000,000 acres free for the taking, poor and rich pouring in, swarming across the border, waiting for the starting gun, at noon, April 22nd.
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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".
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