in about 100 words or less
USA 131m, B&W
Director: Wesley Ruggles; Cast: Richard Dix, Irene Dunne, Estelle Taylor, Roscoe Ates
Cimarron is an ambitious adaptation of Edna Ferber’s 1929 novel which follows the lives of Yancy and Sabra Cravat, a larger-than-life character and his wife who move west as part of the 1893 Oklahoma Land Rush. In addition to its fictional historic plot, which ultimately celebrates Yancy for his innumerable contributions to the founding of Oklahoma, this film also attempts to portray the betterment of social relations and the lessening of racism in American history by diachronically juxtaposing the viewpoints of its two principal characters. While this is an innovative approach, it was at best clumsily and inconsistently handled, and at worse, was misunderstood and furthered racial stereotypes in film. As a veteran and accomplished actor Richard Dix’s memorable performance as Yancy is rooted deeply in silent film technique, which is exacerbated by his cartoonish western wardrobe. Despite these flaws, and its ridiculous Griffith-esque tagline – “Terrific as All Creation”, Cimarron remains notable for its epic production values and its social ambition (Klaus Ming February 2010).