Cimarron (1960)

“Honey, there’s some things in this country a man has to do a woman just doesn’t understand — it’s different here!”

Cimarron Poster

Synopsis:
After losing his chance to secure land during the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889, Yancey Cravat (Glenn Ford) and his new wife, Sabra (Maria Schell) decide to run a newspaper instead. While Yancey fights against injustice and struggles with his latent wanderlust, Sabra tries to provide the best life possible for her son, Cimarron (played at various ages by Ted Eccles, James Halferty, and Buzz Martin).

Genres:

Review:
Anthony Mann’s remake of Edna Ferber’s epic novel suffers from the same problem as its Oscar-winning predecessor — there’s simply too much story here to tell in a “mere” 2 1/2 hours. With that said, there are some notable improvements: Glenn Ford is a welcome (and far more realistic) alternative to hammy Richard Dix, and Maria Schell is equally fine as Ford’s adoring yet socially-conscious wife — a woman willing to make sacrifices for her pioneering husband, but only to a certain point. In addition, screenwriter Arnold Schulman does a nice job providing more of a realistic context for Yancey’s extended absences — indeed, both Yancey and Sabra are ultimately more three-dimensional characters this time around. Yet the story nonetheless suffers from an inability to keep us invested in the long-term outcome of their troubled marriage; Anne Baxter as rival love interest “Dixie Lee” fails to generate much interest, while Sabra’s compromised “triumph” at the end of the film is particularly unsatisfying. As in the original screen adaptation, the opening land rush sequence — filmed with even more gritty violence — remains the most exciting part of the movie.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Glenn Ford as Yancey Cravat (here with Anne Baxter)
    Cimarron Ford
  • Maria Schell as Yancey’s long-suffering wife, Sabra
    Cimarron Schell
  • The exciting, unflinchingly brutal opening “land grab” scene
    Cimarron Land Rush

Must See?
No. This one’s only must see viewing for die-hard Anthony Mann fans.

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One Response to “Cimarron (1960)”

  1. (This is based on half a screening. I’d seen it before but midway this time I simply had to throw in the towel. If something’s a must-see, it’s certainly got to show proof of that before an hour & 15 min. have passed.)

    Not a must at all – and certainly not among the best of director Mann. In a way, he can’t be blamed; he’s saddled with a screenplay that often seems hokey. But, on the other hand – and uncharacteristically for him – Mann seems to have encouraged his cast (esp. many otherwise fine character actors: Robert Keith, Aline MacMahon, David Opatoshu, a thoroughly wasted Mercedes McCambridge, etc.) to act in a way that’s slightly cartoonish. As a result, the members of the supporting cast basically turn in self-conscious performances. (Don’t get me started on the giggling Russ Tamblyn and his giggling chums, including Vic Morrow.)

    Ford and Schell are spared somewhat – but the other major problem is that the movie tends to just plod along without much momentum (save the occasional moments when Mann comes up to the plate for some action sequences).

    Another annoyance: the glaring mixture of scenes shot in authentic locations alongside those in pristine, phony-looking soundstages. But, of course, I’d still be less critical of that if I was taken with the film in general.

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