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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars

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The last and least of Anthony Mann's Westerns, 1960's Cimarron was originally intended by MGM as a Rock Hudson vehicle after the success of Giant. It's at once a lavish film and an undernourished one, not least because of the production problems that saw Mann's run of bad luck with epics repeat itself: after being fired from Spartacus at the start of shooting by Stanley Kubrick, on Cimarron he was replaced towards the end of shooting by an uncredited Charles Walters. It's all to easy to spot the join, with the many early exterior scenes that are very obviously and artificially shot on interior sets at the studio sticking out like a sore thumb with Mann's signature location filming.

Though remembered today, if at all, as doorstop soap operas, in their day Edna Ferner's novels were hugely controversial, and Cimarron was no exception, dealing along the way with racism, anti-Semitism and Indian land rights, though these are treated rather less boldly here than in the 1930 version (especially in the general release and European versions that trimmed a subplot with the leads' son marrying a Native American girl, though these scenes are in the Region 1 DVD). What's left is an ambitious saga, charting the changing face of the wilderness from the Oklahoma Land Rush to the 'civilisation' that comes with the discovery of oil and the big money to be made by a few, taking in the winners and losers strewn along the path of progress along the way, all nominally held together by the restless figure of Yancey Cravat (Glenn Ford). A man who tries everything but can never stay the course before chasing the next dream, he's held as the pioneer ideal, but it's clear that his long-suffering wife (Maria Schell) is the saga's real hero, setting roots and building a future. Structurally it's one of those books better suited to a mini-series than a film, while the rootless nature of its hero - who vanishes from the last third of the film almost entirely - leaves it feeling very unsatisfying. It doesn't help that the film's most spectacular scene, the truly epic land rush sequence, happens so early in the film that everything that follows seems an anticlimax.

Unfortunately the casting doesn't help. While Ford isn't as insufferably hammy as Richard Dix in the original, he never lives up to the great claims made for his character, and he's not helped by a bad haircut that makes him look like Oliver Hardy after a diet (it's no surprise that this film and The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse pretty much ended his career as a top box-office attraction). And for all her efforts, Schell isn't able to exert the kind of charisma or star power that the problematic last third desperately needs. The supporting performances are highly variable too. David Opatashu, Arthur O'Connell, and Charles McGraw offer dependable turns but Russ Tamblyn is shockingly bad.

But ultimately the problem is that the film never seems to quite decide what it wants to be or what parts of the story it wants to tell. It just sprawls out in all directions, never building up much sense of drive or purpose, and even Mann's visual imagination deserts him for much of the film. Instead it's a film with a handful of memorable moments - the land rush sequence, played more for chaos and carnage than exhilaration, one terrific shooting after a lynching and an excellent scene with Aline MacMahon at a makeshift grave - stranded in a rather forgettable film.

Boasting a good 2.35:1 widescreen transfer, the only extra on the Region 1 disc is the original theatrical trailer.
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Cimarron is mostly directed by Anthony Mann and written by Arnold Schulman. It's based on the Edna Ferber novel of the same name and was previously made into a film in 1931. It stars Glenn Ford, Maria Schell, Anne Baxter, Harry Morgan, Russ Tamblyn, Mercedes McCambridge and Lili Darvas. Franz Waxman scores the music and Robert Surtees is the cinematographer. It's a CinemaScope production, filmed in Metrocolor and exterior locations were shot in Arizona.

--At high noon April 22, 1889, a section of the last unsettled territories in America was to be given free to the first people who claimed it. They came from the North, they came from the South and they came from across the sea. In just one day an entire territory would be settled. A new state would be born.

They called it Oklahoma--

With changes from both the novel and the 1931 film, Cimarron 1960 was a big budgeted production. With a huge cast and a running time to match, it was expected to be an epic winner for MGM. It wasn't. For although it has undoubted qualities to please the keen Western fan, it has just too much flab on its belly to let it run free. On the plus side is Surtess location photography and Anthony Mann's ability to stir the blood by way of his action know how. The highlight of the film, and certainly a Western fan's must see sequence, is that of the actual "land-rush" that forms the narrative starting point of the film. A stunning collection of crashes, bangs, death and heartbreak are put together by Mann and the heroes that form the stunt team. Sadly the bar is raised so high so early in the film, it's all down hill from there for expectation and actuality. With the last third of the film laborious in the extreme as an ill equipped Maria Schell attempts to carry the dialogue driven heavy load.

The story is a good one, and Schulman's adaptation doesn't want for trying to reach epic horse opera status. But it's just not a fully formed whole, it comes out as a small group of fine scenes slotted into a gargantuan story of no real distinction. How else can you react to having sat thru two hours of film, to get to the big historical oil strike, to find the film petering out into a series of uninteresting conversations? Much of the problem can maybe be put down to problems off screen? Mann was fired towards the end of production, to be replaced by Charles Walters (High Society), while producer Edmund Grainger himself added scenes in an attempt to clarify the relationship between Yancey (Ford) and Sabra Cravat (Schell). The latter of which was without Mann knowing. This probably accounts for why the final third is so dull. The cast are mostly safe, with Charles McGraw and Aline MacMahon standing out in support slots, the latter of which excels during a graveside scene. But Tamblyn is hopelessly miscast and McCambridge and Baxter are, for different reasons, underused. Waxman scores it as more reflective than sweeping, tho the accompaniment for the "land-rush" sequence is boisterous and uplifting, while hats off to the nice costuming by Walter Plunkett; where Baxter, and us the viewers, benefit greatly.

The great scenes make it a film for Western fans to seek out. But in the context of two of the genre's heroes in Ford and Mann, it's one to easily forget about. 5.5/10
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“Cimarron” is a film of epic scope that has aroused some epic Amazon reviews that need little adding to. Just couldn’t resist making a few observations of my own! Loved the comment about Glenn Ford’s bad hair day, which gives Brian Keith’s weird red mop in “The Rare Breed” a run for its money as Hollywood’s most bizarre hairstyle ever! This western is unrecognisable from Anthony Mann’s other fine series of westerns with his favourite star James Stewart and the superb “Man of the West” made only a couple of years before with Gary Cooper. No surprise then to read about that all too familiar story of studio interference and strife on the set! Gone is Mann’s signature majestic location photography in the great American outdoors and instead we get death by studio set. No wonder Mann never returned to his sagebrush heartland!

The film suffers from some of the most glaringly obvious miscasting I have seen in a film for a very long time. Glenn Ford, despite the Ollie Hardy haircut is passable enough, although not quite his usual perky self. Mann had fallen out with his favourite star James Stewart by this time, although he would have been a little bit old for the part in any case. Maria Schell is shockingly bad in the lead role opposite Ford, looking like she is always on the edge of a nervous breakdown through a surfeit of ham acting. She almost makes Maggie Smith look good, which is really saying something! Am I the only one in this world who thinks that highly exalted scion of acting royalty is the worlds biggest ham actor? Schell was far better in “The Hanging Tree” where she had fewer lines! Then you have to suspend belief and try to accept that cute little baby faced Russ Tamblyn is a real bad boy. Whilst he is a jolly good tumbler he is no bad man by any stretch of the imagination! Arthur O’Connell doesn’t quite measure up to James Dean’s oil tycoon in “Giant”. It is all a bit daft and disjointed, with a decent story somehow getting lost along the way in the studio butchers shop. Pity as the original source novel certainly provides plenty of meaty material deserving of a far better fate. It has to go down as Mann's weakest western, although that seems a bit harsh given how little control he had over the final product!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 23 September 2008
MGM presents "CIMARRON" (December 1960) (147 mins/Color) (Dolby digitally remastered) -- Our story line and plot, The epic saga of a frontier family, Cimarron starts with the Oklahoma Land Rush on 22 April 1889. The Cravet family builds their newspaper Oklahoma Wigwam into a business empire and Yancey Cravet is the adventurer-idealist who, to his wife's anger, spurns the opportunity to become governor since this means helping to defraud the indians of their land and oil --- Anthony Mann (Director), Robert Surtees (Cinematographer) and John D. Dunning (Film Editor), with the striking memorable score from Franz Waxman completely stirring the veins of drama, which will keep the heart pounding from the opening scenes to the end credits --- One character is expanded considerably from the 1931 film. Edna May Oliver was Mrs. Wyatt who was a pioneer woman whose husband we never did meet --- Here Mrs. Wyatt is played by Mercedes McCambridge who is married to Arthur O'Connell who is very important to the story. They're this hardscrabble share cropper family who get a real scrubby piece of land at the beginning of the land rush, mainly because O'Connell falls off the stagecoach right at the beginning of the land rush and Mercedes runs across the starting line and she claims the land right at the line --- Anthony Mann went from making westerns to epics, and with this film, he was in the best of both worlds --- Director Anthony Mann who got fired towards the end of the film's production did a very good job with both the cast and the spectacle. The Oklahoma land rush scene was as thrillingly done as it was in the 1931 version --- All the characters present in Edna Ferber's saga of the transforming of Oklahoma from territory to state made it from the first film --- The cast includes also such fine people as Anne Baxter, Edgar Buchanan, Russ Tamblyn, Vic Morrow, Aline McMahon, Robert Keith, Charles McGraw, all ably filling out parts from the original version. The land rush scene is every bit as good as the first time around --- All of them meet during the Oklahoma land rush and while Glenn and Maria are the leads, the story of the film is what happens to all of them.

Under the production staff of:
Anthony Mann - Director
Edmund Grainger - Producer
Edna Ferber - Book Author
Arnold Schulman - Screenwriter
Robert Surtees - Cinematographer
Franz Waxman - Composer (Music Score) / Songwriter
Paul Francis Webster - Songwriter
John D. Dunning - Editor
George W. Davis - Art Director
Addison Hehr - Art Director
Henry W. Grace - Set Designer
Hugh Hunt - Set Designer
Otto Siegel - Set Designer
Walter Plunkett - Costume Designer
William J. Tuttle - Makeup
Arnold A. Gillespie - Special Effects
Robert R. Hoag - Special Effects
Lee Le Blanc - Special Effects
Ridgeway Callow - First Assistant Director

1. Glenn Ford (aka: Gwyllyn Samuel Newton Ford)
Date of Birth: 1 May 1916 - Sainte-Christine, Quebec, Canada
Date of Death30 August 2006, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles County, California

2. Maria Schell
Date of Birth: 15 January 1926 - Vienna, Austria
Date of Death: 26 April 2005 - Preitenegg, Carinthia, Austria

3. Anne Baxter
Date of Birth: 7 May 1923 - Michigan City, Indiana
Date of Death: 12 December 1985 - New York City, New York

4. Anthony Mann (Director)
Date of Birth: 30 June 1906 - San Diego, California
Date of Death: 29 April 1967 - Berlin, Germany

the cast includes:
Glenn Ford ... Yancey 'Cimarron' Cravat (editor, 'Oklahoma Wigwam')
Maria Schell ... Sabra Cravat born Venable
Anne Baxter ... Dixie Lee (owner, Dixie's Social Club)
Arthur O'Connell ... Tom Wyatt
Russ Tamblyn ... William Hardy aka The Cherokee Kid
Mercedes McCambridge ... Mrs. Sarah Wyatt
Vic Morrow ... Wes Jennings (Cherokee Kid gang)
Robert Keith ... Sam Pegler (owner, 'Oklahoma Wigwam')
Charles McGraw ... Bob Yountis
Harry Morgan ... Jessie Rickey (printer) (as Henry {Harry} Morgan)
David Opatoshu ... Sol Levy (shopkeeper)
Aline MacMahon ... Mrs. Mavis Pegler
Lili Darvas ... Felicia Venable (Sabra's mother)
Edgar Buchanan ... Judge Neal Hefner
Mary Wickes ... Mrs. Neal Hefner
Royal Dano ... Ike Howes (photographer)
L.Q. Jones ... Millis (Yountis' henchman)
George Brenlin ... Hoss Barry - Cherokee Kid gang
Vladimir Sokoloff ... Jacob Krubeckoff (sculptor)

Hats off and thanks to Les Adams (collector/guideslines for character identification), Chuck Anderson (Webmaster: The Old Corral/B-Westerns.Com), Boyd Magers (Western Clippings), Bobby J. Copeland (author of "Trail Talk"), Rhonda Lemons (Empire Publishing Inc) and Bob Nareau (author of "The Real Bob Steele") as they have rekindled my interest once again for B-Westerns and Serials --- If you're into the memories of B-Westerns with high drama, this is the one you've been anxiously waiting for --- please stand up and take a bow Western Classics --- all my heroes have been cowboys!

Total Time: 147 mins on DVD ~ Warner Home Video ~ (8/26/2008)
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on 15 June 2015
This excellent film is a liberal view of the US. Glenn Ford's character wouldn't be out of place in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. There is a short part of the film where a small Indian girl is denied access to a school because of her race. This is genuinely moving. It shows the best of America and why America is still an admirable place.
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on 29 February 2016
fantastic western. I love westerns.thank you very much.
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on 15 August 2014
Good quality packaging good ,Glen Ford at his best in this movie good action bye it you will not be diappointed
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on 9 February 2017
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on 14 August 2015
Good gilm
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on 22 May 2015
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