Cimarron (1960 film)

Directed by Anthony Mann
Charles Walters
Produced by Edmund Grainger
Screenplay by Arnold Schulman
Based on Cimarron
1929 novel
by Edna Ferber
Starring Glenn Ford
Maria Schell
Anne Baxter
Harry Morgan
Music by Franz Waxman
Cinematography Robert Surtees
Edited by John D. Dunning
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
December 1, 1960, Oklahoma City (premiere)
Running time
147 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $5,421,000[1]
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, and by Charles Walters, who was not credited.[2]

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.


In Kansas City, gently-reared Sabra Cravat (Maria Schell) packs to join her new husband, lawyer Yancey "Cimarron" Cravat (Glenn Ford), in the Oklahoma land rush of 1889. On the trail, they encounter William "the Kid" Hardy (Russ Tamblyn) an old friend of Yancey's, and his buddies, Wes Jennings (Vic Morrow) and Hoss Barry (George Brenlin). The boys give Sabra a fright and a glimpse into Yancey's past. On the trail, Yancey helps Tom (Arthur O'Connell) and Sarah Wyatt (Mercedes McCambridge) and their eight children, taking them aboard their wagons.

At the jump off point, it seems to Sabra that her husband knows everyone in Oklahoma, from Ned the cavalry officer to dance hall girl Dixie Lee (Anne Baxter). A small crowd cheers Bob Yountis (Charles McGraw) and his henchman Millis (L. Q. Jones ) when they attack a Native American family, whipping Arita Redfeather (Dawn Little Sky), her baby in her arms, overturning their wagon and beating her husband, Ben (Eddie Little Sky). Yancey joins his friend Sam Pegler (Robert Keith) in fighting them off.

When a Cavalry officer confirms that the couple have a right to be there, the crowd disperses. Yountis threatens Pegler, a newspaper editor, if he tries the same crusading here that he did in Texas. Sabra is angry that Yancey risked his life for an Indian—and is chastened at the icy reactions to this remark. She steps forward to join the others, including peddler Sol Levy (David Opatoshu) and printer Jess Rickey (Harry Morgan) in righting the wagon.

That night Sam and his wife, Mavis (Aline MacMahon), reveal more about Yancey's past as a cowboy, a gambler, a gunman, and a lawyer. They scoff at his being a rancher. They hope to pass the legacy of the paper on to him.

At noon on 22 April 1889, 50,000 settlers race across the prairie on every conceivable form of transport. There are 2 million acres—enough for 12,500 homesteads. Tom falls, and Sarah claims a dry, worthless patch a step across the line. Pegler is trampled to death, and Dixie beats Yancey to the land he wanted, so he asks Jesse to stay and help him run the paper.

The new town of Osage consists of tents and half-built storefronts; the Oklahoma Wigwam is selling briskly. Yountis and The Kid terrorize Levy in the street; Yancey tries and fails to persuade the Kid to change. One night, Yountis leads a mob in lynching Ben. Yancey arrives too late, but he kills Yountis and brings Arita and her baby, Ruby, home. Meanwhile, Sabra has given birth to a boy whom they name Cimarron, Cim for short.

Four years later, Osage is thriving. On Yancey's advice, Tom has built an oil-drilling apparatus. He is a laughingstock. Wes, Hoss and The Kid, wanted outlaws, try to rob the train in town. Hoss is killed, and Wes and the Kid run to the schoolhouse, where Wes seizes a little girl as a shield. The Kid pulls her to safety and is shot. Yancey kills Wes. When Yancey destroys the $1000 reward check, Sabra is furious: He never thinks of their son's security.

Yancey is ecstatic when a news service telegram announces the opening of the Cherokee Strip. He tells Sabra: They are going. She says No. He goes. Five years later, Tom is still working on his oil well. A duffel bag arrives from Yancey, from Alaska, with nothing in it but a polar bear skin. Yancey joins Roosevelt in Cuba and eventually "Osage's Own Rough Rider" returns. Sabra—who was planning to scold him—runs into his arms. Cim also forgives him.

Then Tom bursts in, covered in oil.

Oilfields spring up, marking the passage of years. Yancey is thrilled to spread the word that there is oil on the wretched land of the reservation. He is disgusted to learn that Tom bought the oil rights. Yancey's campaign to win the Native Americans justice is a huge success, and the President invites him to be Governor of the Oklahoma Territory. Sabra discovers that Cim and Ruby have grown close; she is desperate to separate them.

In Washington, D. C., Yancey and Sabra are invited to the Congressional New Year's Eve Party; Yancey thanks her for everything she has put up with. His New Year's resolution is to make it up to her. While she dresses, he goes to another room in the hotel to meet with a group of influential men and is surprised to find Tom there. He learns that the price of his appointment is his integrity. He wishes them Happy New Year and takes Sabra to the party. When he tells her that he can't be governor, she sends him away, forever.

Cim and Ruby marry, without warning. He has a job in Oregon; when they say goodbye, Sabra tells him he is throwing his life away.

Ten years later, it is the Oklahoma Wigwam's 25th anniversary. Sol and Tom want Sabra to pose for a statue representing the Oklahoma pioneer. She refuses. There is a surprise party, and Cim, Ruby and their two children are there, as is Mavis Pegler. Sabra talks about Yancey. The phone rings: War has been declared. In December, she reads a letter from him. On the table is a telegram from the British War Office notifying her of his death in action. She remembers their years together, and the camera zooms in on the finished statue: It is Yancey.






MGM bought the remake rights from RKO in 1941 for $100,000.[3]

In 1947 it was announced they would make an operetta version starring Kathryn Grayson and produced by Arthur Freed.[4] However, this did not happen.

MGM announced further plans to make it in February 1958.[5] 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.[6]

King Vidor turned down the chance to direct.[7] Arnold Schulman was signed to write the screenplay.[8] 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.[9] However, disagreements in the direction of the film Cimarron led 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.[10]

The climactic scene portraying the Oklahoma Land Rush was shot in Arizona[11] and featured over 1000 extras, 700 horses, and 500 wagons and buggies.[12]

Anne Baxter, who plays Dixie Lee, reveals in her autobiography, Intermission, that actor Glenn Ford and actress Maria Schell developed 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."[13]


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),[14][15] but failed to win either.

The 1960 remake is considered a "revisionist western" for its sympathetic portrayal of indigenous Americans and view of their racist mistreatment as unjust,[16] which appeared at the time that the Civil rights movement was gaining momentum in the U.S.[17][circular reference]

In the 1931 film, Yancey is presented as an advocate for Native Americans from the beginning. The fact that he uses his skills as a lawyer to defend and assist them is one of the reasons Sabra's family despises and fears him, and he has a reputation in Oklahoma because of it. He does not stop being a lawyer, as he does in the 1960 film.[18] (The character was based on Temple Lea Houston.)[17] In the 1960 film, Yancey's support of the Native Americans is not shown until the attack on the Red Feather family.

The 1960 adaptation deviates from the original story of the Ferber best-seller in many ways, including its focal point. TCM's James Tartara observes: "It makes sense that, rather than focusing on the more refined Sabra, who guided both Ferber's novel and the earlier filmic adaptation, [Director] Mann chose to focus more on Ford's gutsy adventurer. He also hoped to capture the drama of the changing Western landscape as it fills with settlers, a task that perfectly suited CinemaScope. " However, Mann quit the project in the middle of filming after a bitter clash with producer Edmund Grainger. Director Charles Walters, uncredited, shot all the rest.[2] Added to this was an ill-fated romance between the leads that left them barely speaking. Tartara says "The resulting picture is a striking example of the CinemaScope process while still being something of a creative mishmash. The critics were bored, audiences stayed away in droves, and MGM never earned a penny from it."[19]

Schulman introduces several characters, including journalist Sam Pegler (Robert Keith) and Wes Jennings (Vic Morrow), a prominent member of Cherokee Kid's (Russ Tamblyn) gang,[17] while removing the Cravats daughter, Donna, and Isaiah, the young African American boy who runs away from Sabra's parents to join the Cravats.[19]

Glenn Ford's performance in the film earned him a nomination for a Laurel Award for Top Action Performance (which he did not win).[20]

See also


  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  2. ^ a b "Cimarron (1960)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2019-12-15.
  3. ^ "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". New York Times. Feb 22, 1941. p. 11.
  4. ^ THOMAS F. BRADY (Nov 24, 1947). "CIMARRON' REMAKE LISTED BY METRO: Arthur Freed to Produce New Film of Edna Ferber Novel, Starring Kathryn Grayson". New York Times. p. 30.
  5. ^ THOMAS M. PRYOR (Feb 20, 1958). "U. S. VS. AL CAPONE TO BE FILM THEME: Story of Treasury Agents' War on Breweries Slated -Holden-Paramount Rift". New York Times. p. 29.
  6. ^ Scheuer, Philip K. (Feb 17, 1959). "Glenn Ford Value Seen as 'Built' Star: Ava Gardner His Likely Lead; Producer Cites Other Examples". Los Angeles Times. p. C7.
  7. ^ "Entertainment Films Stage Music: Viertel Film Will Not Star Deborah". Los Angeles Times. Sep 11, 1959. p. B6.
  8. ^ "SCHULMAN FORMS PRODUCTION UNIT: Author of 'A Hole in the Head' Plans Second Play for Stage and Films". New York Times. Oct 8, 1959. p. 49.
  9. ^ "Anthony Mann". IMDb. Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  10. ^ "Cimarron (1960)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  11. ^ JOHN H. ROTHWELL (Jan 10, 1960). "SHOT ON THE OLD 'CIMARRON' TRAIL". New York Times. p. X7.
  12. ^ Cimarron (1960), retrieved 2019-02-15
  13. ^ "Cimarron (1960)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  14. ^ "The 33rd Academy Awards (1961) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-08-22.
  15. ^ "Cimarron". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-24.
  16. ^ Peter Rollins. Hollywood's Indian: The Portrayal of the Native American in Film.
  17. ^ a b c Cimarron (novel) – Wikipedia
  18. ^ "AFI|Catalog". Retrieved 2019-12-15.
  19. ^ a b "Cimarron (1960)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  20. ^ "Glenn Ford". IMDb. Retrieved 2019-02-15.

External links