Cimarron (1960 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Directed byAnthony Mann
Produced byEdmund Grainger
Screenplay byArnold Schulman
Based onCimarron
1929 novel
by Edna Ferber
StarringGlenn Ford
Maria Schell
Anne Baxter
Harry Morgan
Music byFranz Waxman
CinematographyRobert Surtees
Edited byJohn D. Dunning
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
December 1, 1960, Oklahoma City (premiere)
Running time
147 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$4,825,000[1]

Cimarron is a 1960 Metrocolor western film filmed in CinemaScope, based on the Edna Ferber novel Cimarron, featuring Glenn Ford and Maria Schell. It was directed by Anthony Mann, known for his westerns and film noirs.

Ferber's novel was previously adapted in 1931; that version won three Academy Awards.

Cimarron was the first of three epics (the others being El Cid and The Fall of the Roman Empire) Mann directed. Despite high production costs and an experienced cast of western veterans, stage actors, and future stars, the film was released with little fanfare.


Sabra Cravat's (Maria Schell) wealthy Kansas City parents try to dissuade her from participating in a land run in the Oklahoma territory with her new husband Yancey (Glenn Ford), but she is adamant. During the journey, Sabra's knowledge of her husband's character deepens, and when he lends one of his covered wagons to Tom (Arthur O'Connell) and Sarah Wyatt (Mercedes McCambridge) and their large, destitute family, she experiences his generosity.

Upon arriving in Oklahoma and meeting many of Yancey's friends, including a lady of the evening named Dixie Lee (Anne Baxter), she discovers that he is something of an adventurer. Sabra has her first disagreement with Yancey, however, when he staunchly defends an American Indian family whose wagon has been overturned by a group of angry men. Even though a Cavalry officer states that Ben and Arita Red Feather have the right to participate in the land run, Sabra, a French American, wonders aloud whether Yancey should have risked injury just to help some Indians.

At high noon on 22 April 1889, thousands of settlers, who hope to claim 160 acres each of free land, race wildly on horseback, wagon, bicycle, and stagecoach across the prairie. Tom is pushed off the stagecoach, whereupon a frantic Sarah plants a stake into the arid dirt near the starting line. Sam Pegler (Robert Keith), an idealistic newspaper owner from Osage, is killed during the run, and Ben is lassoed to the ground by a bigoted roughneck named Bob Yountis (Charles McGraw). After Dixie, angry at Yancey for having married another woman, vengefully claims the land that Yancey had wanted, he decides to forget about ranching and take over Sam's newspaper. The printer, Jesse Rickey (Harry Morgan), remains in Osage with the paper, the Oklahoma Wigwam, while Sam's widow Mavis (Aline MacMahon) sadly returns home.

Some time later, Yountis and William Hardy (Russ Tamblyn), a young troublemaker known as the "Cherokee Kid, " terrorize a Jewish peddler named Sol Levy (David Opatoshu). Yancey rescues Sol, but the Kid, whose father had been Yancey's friend, refuses to listen to the older man's advice and rides away with his rowdy companions. One night, Yountis, leading a band of Indian-hating townspeople, lynches Ben and destroys his home. Outraged, Yancey shoots Yountis and then brings Arita and her baby to the Cravat house. When the three arrive home, they discover that Sabra has given birth to a baby boy, whom they named Cimarron.

Several years pass, and the Kid, now a feared outlaw, reluctantly joins cohorts in robbing the Osage bank. Cornered, the robbers take refuge in the schoolhouse, but when his buddy, Wes Jennings (Vic Morrow) tries to make a child their hostage, the Kid intervenes and is shot. Yancey shoots Wes, thereby earning a large reward, but when he remorsefully tears up the checks, Sabra accuses him of cheating Cim of his future. Dixie confesses that she still loves Yancey, and when he gently rejects her, she sells her farm and opens a "social club". Meanwhile, Arita's little daughter Ruby is ejected from the schoolhouse. Yancey files a protest, but the townspeople refuse to allow an Indian to attend school. Yancey charges that they are keeping their children's blood pure, but their heads empty.

Soon afterward, Yancey leaves town to participate in another land rush, to the bitter disappointment of his wife. During his five-year absence, Sabra obtains a loan from Sol, who has fallen in love with her. Sabra learns from Dixie that Yancey, who spent several years in Alaska, is now a Rough Rider in Cuba. Dixie also confesses that it is Sabra, not her, whom Yancey loves. That year, Yancey returns, promising to make amends for his absence. Sabra and Cim accept him, and the years pass.

One day Yancey excitedly reports that oil has been discovered on the Indian reservation. Tom, whose own oil-rich land has made him wealthy, laughs and says that it is he, not the Indians, who owns the oil rights. Yancey writes in his paper that Tom has swindled the Indians, and the story is reported all over the country. Sabra, meanwhile, worries that Cim is becoming serious about Ruby, whom she considers unfit for her son, but when Yancey tells her that he has been nominated for governor of the territory, she beams. In Washington, she ecstatically dresses for a party, but Yancey learns Tom and his powerful friends will name him governor only if he agrees to cooperate with them. Yancey rejects the post, whereupon Sabra orders him to leave her. Later, Sol, now a successful merchant, lends Sabra a large sum, and she builds the paper into a major enterprise. When Cim informs her that he has married Ruby and is on his way to Oregon, Sabra bitterly complains that he is throwing his life away and then dismisses him from the house.

Ten years later, in 1914, Sabra sits at a desk composing an editorial for the newspaper's 25th anniversary. Sol and Tom want her to be the model for a sculpture exemplifying the pioneer spirit, but Sabra protests that the man who ran away from her was the true pioneer. At a surprise anniversary party, Sabra is reunited with her son and his family. She pays tribute to her husband, claiming that she still hopes for his return, but that day, war is declared.

In December, Sabra rereads the letter she has received from Yancey, in which he again apologizes for being a disappointment to her. On the table is an open telegram stating that her husband has been killed in action.






MGM bought the remake rights from RKO in 1941 for $100,000.[2]

In 1947 it was announced they would make an operetta version starring Kathryn Grayson and produced by Arthur Freed.[3] However this did not happen.

MGM announced further plans to make it in February 1958.[4] The handsome trending actor Glenn Ford, having experience in western films 3:10 to Yuma (1957) and The Sheepman (1958), soon became attached as star.[5]

King Vidor turned down the chance to direct.[6] Arnold Schulman was signed to write the screenplay.[7] Anthony Mann was eventually chosen to direct the reimagining of the 1931 classic. Most known for the critically acclaimed hits The Glenn Miller Story (1954) and Men in War (1957), Mann had proven himself as a talented western director in the decade prior to Cimarron, contributing eight films to the genre.[8] However, disagreements in the direction of the film Cimarron lead to bitter arguments with producer Edmund Grainger, until eventually Mann left the project halfway through filming. Director Charles Walters finished the film but received no screen credit.[9]

The climactic scene portraying the Oklahoma Land Rush was shot in Arizona[10] and featured over 1000 extras, 700 horses, and 500 wagons and buggies.[11]

Anne Baxter, who plays Dixie Lee, reveals in her autobiography, Intermission, that actor Glenn Ford and actress Maria Schell develop a romance beyond the screen. She writes that, "During shooting, they'd scrambled together like eggs. I understood she'd even begun divorce proceedings in Germany. It was obviously premature of her." However, for unknown reasons the relationship didn't last, and by the end of filming, "he scarcely glanced or spoke in her direction, and she looked as if she were in shock."[12]


According to MGM records the film earned $2,325,000 in the US and Canada and $2,500,000 overseas, resulting in an overall loss of $3,618,000.[1]

In 1961 the film was nominated for Best Art Direction (George W. Davis, Addison Hehr, Henry Grace, Hugh Hunt, and Otto Siegel) and Best Sound (Franklin Milton),[13][14] but failed to win either. While the 1931 adaptation is arguably the better and more successful of the two, the 1960 remake receives more attention and is still broadcast on television. The 1960 remake is considered a "revisionist western" due to the fact Native Americans in the film are portrayed positively and racism against Native Americans is portrayed as unjust,[15] right around the same time the American Civil Rights Movement was gaining momentum. [16]

In addition to the different race relations, the 1960 adaptation deviates from the original storyline of the Ferber best-seller in more ways. Foremost is Arnold Schulman's focus on Yancey Cravat as the main character, instead of Sabra as the intended focal point. This alteration likely was due to the stardom of casting Glenn Ford to play the role of Yancey.[17] Schulman also introduces several minor characters, such as journalist Sam Pegler (Robert Keith) and Wes Jennings (Vic Morrow), a prominent member of Cherokee Kid's (Russ Tamblyn) gang,[18] while removing the character Isaiah. Mann's direction also emphasizes the changing landscape around the characters as the years progress and the town of Osage evolves.[19]

Glenn Ford's charming performance in the film awarded him a nomination for a Laurel Award for Top Action Performance (which he did not win).[20] The failure of this film, combined with the disastrous The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1962), ended Ford's run as a box-office star.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  2. ^ Metro Buys 'Cimarron' Rights From RKO for $100,000 – Purchases 'Rio Rita': BRITISH FILM HERE TODAY "It Happened to One Man' Opens at Carnegie – 'Tobacco Road' Sets First Day Record Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923–Current file) [New York, N.Y] 22 Feb 1941: 11.
  3. ^ CIMARRON' REMAKE LISTED BY METRO: Arthur Freed to Produce New Film of Edna Ferber Novel, Starring Kathryn Grayson By THOMAS F. BRADY Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 24 Nov 1947: 30.
  4. ^ U. S. VS. AL CAPONE TO BE FILM THEME: Story of Treasury Agents' War on Breweries Slated -Holden-Paramount Rift By THOMAS M. PRYOR Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 20 Feb 1958: 29.
  5. ^ Glenn Ford Value Seen as 'Built' Star: Ava Gardner His Likely Lead; Producer Cites Other Examples Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 17 Feb 1959: C7.
  6. ^ Entertainment Films Stage Music: Viertel Film Will Not Star Deborah Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 11 Sep 1959: B6.
  7. ^ SCHULMAN FORMS PRODUCTION UNIT: Author of 'A Hole in the Head' Plans Second Play for Stage and Films Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 08 Oct 1959: 49.
  8. ^ "Anthony Mann". IMDb. Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  9. ^ "Cimarron (1960)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  10. ^ SHOT ON THE OLD 'CIMARRON' TRAIL By JOHN H. ROTHWELL. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 10 Jan 1960: X7.
  11. ^ Cimarron (1960), retrieved 2019-02-15
  12. ^ "Cimarron (1960)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  13. ^ "The 33rd Academy Awards (1961) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-08-22.
  14. ^ "NY Times: Cimarron". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-24.
  15. ^ Hollywood's Indian: The Portrayal of the Native American in Film by Peter Rollins
  16. ^ "Cimarron (novel)", Wikipedia, 2019-01-09, retrieved 2019-02-15
  17. ^ "Cimarron (1960)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  18. ^ "Cimarron (novel)", Wikipedia, 2019-01-09, retrieved 2019-02-15
  19. ^ "Cimarron (1960)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  20. ^ "Glenn Ford". IMDb. Retrieved 2019-02-15.

External links[edit]