Cimarron

Alternate Title: Joke-lahoma
1930 Winner

Truth time: I don’t like Westerns. I don’t get them. That said, I’m open to trying any movie genre if I have a good reason. I said I would see every Best Picture nominee and that’s reason enough; however, this one is just plain bad.

Yancey Cravat (Richard Dix) is an adventurer. He takes his wife, Sabra (Irene Dunne) and their child out West with him in the 1890s to start fresh. Sabra is resistant to their new way of life, but Yancey is determined to run a newspaper and embrace what the frontier has to offer. Just as Sabra is getting used to everything, Yancey takes off on another quest – for Native American rights, to defend the honor of a publicly shamed woman or just because he can’t stay in one place for too long.

The lead actor is hard to love. He’s pompous as fuck, but also he plays a guy who ditches his wife and kids and actively ignores everything she asks him for at every turn. In classic pathetic lady fashion, Sabra remains in love with Yancey the whole time.

On top of that mess, the story is all over the place. Adapted from a book, this might be a case of too many directions to go in too short a time. The story spans numerous years in only two hours and as a result feels scattered. There doesn’t seem to be a cohesive point. One redemptive quality is that Yancey defends the rights of Native Americans, but this is brushed aside as a small piece of the film instead of becoming a prime focus. He also defends a woman named Dixie Lee (Estelle Taylor) when she has a lousy reputation in town, but this too is a short-lived plot point.

Cimarron‘s meaning – wild – is a lot more exciting than its movie namesake.

Now it’s Your Turn…
Cimarron won Best Picture in 1930, but did the Academy get it right?

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