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>
The second most popular movie at the US box office for 1931. 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 »
The second button on his coat is about the spot of his wishbone. Maybe a couple inches higher.
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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
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