Saturday, February 21, 2009

Cimarron (1931)

Winner, 4th Academy Awards

Directed by: Wesley Ruggles

Starring: Richard Dix and Irene Dunne

Plot: An adventuring lawyer/newspaper editor settles down in an Oklahoma boom town.

Thoughts: It's not difficult to see why Cimarron beat out its competition for the Best Motion Picture award. It was the most polished out of the nominees and had that epic feel to it that the Academy likes so much. I enjoyed the film despite it being a bit long. Richard Dix was a bit bombastic with his acting, compared to his capable but subdued co-stars. The film's most famous sequence easily remains its best: the Oklahoma land rush scene is huge and starts things off with an energy that wasn't matched by the rest of the film. But that's okay, it's still an enjoyable way to waste a couple of hours.

Based on Edna Ferber's 1929 decade-spanning novel, Cimarron has the distinction of being a Best Picture winner that didn't make a profit during its initial theatrical run. Although liked by audiences and critics, the film was released during one of the worst periods of the Great Depression. Movies were a popular form of entertainment during the Depression, but 1931 was a particularly turbulent year for many Americans. The cost of making Cimarron made it one of the most expensive films produced at the time ($125,000 was paid for the novel rights alone).

Cimarron was released on DVD in 2006. The film was remade starring Glenn Ford in 1960 and is also available on DVD. According to IMDB, yet another remake is coming in 2010 but information on it is pretty scarce as of this writing. The 1960 remake was not nominated for Best Picture but earned Academy nods for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration and Best Sound.

Cimarron earned an unprecedented seven award nomination's, beating out The Love Parade's six nods from the previous year. In addition to Best Motion Picture, Cimarron also won Best Art Direction for Max Ree's convincing work on making the town of Osage, Oklahoma come to life and won Best Writing, Adaptation, for Howard Estabrook's screenplay. The film was also nominated for the following:
  • Best Actor for Richard Dix's enthusiastic performance as Yancey Cravat;
  • Best Actress for Irene Dunne's performance as Sabra Cravat;
  • Best Cinematography for Edward Cronjager's work; and
  • Best Director.


  1. Are you saying that the Academy already had a penchant for epics after only 4 years? Or that Cimarron was part of the tradition before it actually was a tradition?

    Anyway, just swung by to wish you a good Oscar Night.

  2. 2 out of the 3 previous awards were given to epics (Wings and All Quiet...). However, I based my statement on the entire history of Best Pictures when I probably shouldn't have.