Oscars Challenge #36: Cimarron (1931) Movie Review
The thing is, when you watch all the Academy Award Best Picture films, no matter if you view them all chronologically or just randomize them all, there are a few, if not all that you remember by heart. Some movies you remember because of how the story captivated your heart. Some make you laugh, while some make you cry. Then there are those that you remember because it's bad.
If there is something that I remember about this film is that it is confusingly bad. It just didn't click enough for me.
The movie begins during the Oklahoma land rush in 1889. Thousands of people scramble their way to grab government land that they can own for free. Yancey Cravat (Richard Dix) and his wife Sabra (Irene Dunne) from Kansas joined the fray before they were outwitted by a young prostitute named Dixie Lee (Estelle Taylor). She was able to take what Yancey was targeting.
Yancey and Sabra decided to settle in the town of Osage. A place that is still getting itself established. Yancey, having a previous background as a newspaper publisher establishes a new company named Oklahoma Wigwam. His goal is to turn the unruly town into a respectable one and he believes that establishing that newspaper company will help him do so. After the birth of their daughter, Donna, a group of outlaws terrorizes the town. In the commotion, Yancey was able to face off and kill their leader who happens to be an old acquaintance of his.
Another land rush was looming and Yancey decided to join, leaving Sabra and their children. She took over the publication until he returns. Five years later, Yancey returned and represented Dixie Lee in her case of being a public nuisance. He was able to win it and she got acquitted soon after.
A few more years later, the town of Osage grew and the state of Oklahoma is now in place. The Native Americans benefitted from the early oil booms. thanks to Yancey's editorials. But he once again disappears from Osage for some reason. His wife, an avid anti-Native American is against her son's involvement with an Indian woman. A few years later, she became a member of Congress and lauds the efforts of her soon-to-be daughter-in-law. A huge oil explosion happened and Sabra rushes to the scene. She discovers Yancey who is severely wounded after rescuing several oil workers from the accident. The movie ends with him dying in his wife's arms.
What is confusing here is that during the film I always ask who is the main character. If it's Yancey, how is it that most of his actions were off-screen and almost were not present throughout the movie? His wife, Sabra is not the most likable character either. More than any character in the film, I think she is the most racist. I never liked her character from the start and even more, as the film ends.
Other than the characters, the story itself just literally flew by. There are little to no moments in the film that you can call memorable. I pretty much got bored for most of it.
I like how they incorporate history within the film though. I mean from someone like me who is not American or is not aware much about their history, especially when the States are still being established. I don't know if that is the case really nevertheless it is still a nice piece of history.
Another funny thing is that out of all the Academy Awards for Best Picture movies, this is the third lowest ranked by Rotten Tomatoes. I think when it was released back in the 1930s, it is an absolute hit but as time goes by, the story didn't age very well. It also explains that people's taste regarding movies has changed over the years.
I do think that the Oklahoma land rush depicted in the movie is pretty exciting. It just happens that the story didn't revolve much around it and was just lost along the way. I kind of hoped that it was the focus and not blitzed through the whole story.
Even though I respect the movie for its history and of course winning the prestigious Best Picture award. I didn't like the film.
If you are planning to watch all those Best Picture movies, this spectacle is one of those that you just want to skip through.
A solid 1.5 out of 5 stars.