Cimarron (1931 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Cimarron (1931 film) poster.jpg
theatrical release poster
Directed by Wesley Ruggles
Produced by William LeBaron
Written by Howard Estabrook
Based on Cimarron (novel) by
Edna Ferber
Starring Richard Dix
Irene Dunne
Music by Max Steiner
Cinematography Edward Cronjager
Edited by William Hamilton
RKO Radio Pictures
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release date(s)
  • February 9, 1931 (1931-02-09)
Running time 123 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1,433,000[1]
Box office $1,383,000[1]

Cimarron is a 1931 Pre-Code Western film directed by Wesley Ruggles, starring Richard Dix and Irene Dunne, and featuring Estelle Taylor and Roscoe Ates. The Oscar winning script was written by Howard Estabrook based on the Edna Ferber novel Cimarron.


Young and ambitious Yancy Cravat (Richard Dix) moves his wife Sabra (Irene Dunne) and their family from Wichita, Kansas, to Oklahoma territory, which the U.S. government has just opened up for settlement. Cravat is a hard-driving lawyer and newspaper editor who quickly becomes a leading citizen of the boomtown settlement of Osage, but after he disappears to settle the new Cherokee Strip, his wife Sabra is left behind to fend for herself.



Despite being in the depths of the Great Depression, RKO Radio Pictures invested more than $1.5 million into their epic production of Ferber's novel. Filming began in the summer of 1930 at Jasmin Quinn Ranch outside of Los Angeles, California, where the exciting land rush scenes were shot. More than twenty-eight cameramen, and numerous camera assistants and photographers were used to capture thrilling scenes of more than 5,000 costumed extras, covered wagons, buckboards, surreys, and bicyclist as they raced across grassy hills and prairie to stake their claim. Cinematographer Edward Cronjager carefully planned out every take (which recalled the scenes of Intolerance some fifteen years earlier) in accordance with Ferber's descriptions. In order to film key scenes for this mammoth production, RKO purchased 89 acres in Encino where construction of Art Director Max Ree's Oscar winning design of a complete western town and a three block modern main street were built to represent the Oklahoma fictional boomtown of Osage. These award winning sets eventually formed the nucleus for RKO's ever expanding movie ranch, in Encino, where other RKO films were later lensed, including non RKO products, such as It's a Wonderful Life (1946).


RKO Radio Pictures premiered their big budget epic picture at the RKO Palace Theatre (Broadway) in New York City on January 26, 1931, to much praise, and then on February 6 a Los Angeles Orpheum Theatre premiere followed, which also included personal appearances of Richard Dix and Irene Dunne, a huge stage show and an augmented orchestra. Three days later, the movie was released to theaters throughout the nation. Despite being a critical success, the extremely high budget and ongoing Depression combined against the film. While it was a commercial success in line with other films of the day, RKO Pictures could not at first recoup their heavy investment in the film, which ended up losing $565,000. However, it earned more money on a 1935 re-release which enjoyed yet another festive premiere in Oklahoma City at the (John Eberson design) Midwest Theatre. The movie remained RKO's most expensive film until 1939's Gunga Din (which filmed exteriors around Sierra Nevada Alabama Hills range, but had one scene shot on RKO's movie ranch in Encino.[1]

Awards and honors[edit]

At the 1931 Academy Awards ceremony at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, Cimarron was the first film to receive more than six Academy Awards nominations and nominated for the Big Five awards (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Writing). Additionally, it is one of only two films (the other being Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) to receive nominations in every eligible category. It won for three of them, including best picture.

Award Result Winner
Outstanding Production Won RKO Radio (William LeBaron, Producer)
Best Director Nominated Wesley Ruggles
Winner was Norman TaurogSkippy
Best Actor Nominated Richard Dix
Winner was Lionel BarrymoreA Free Soul
Best Actress Nominated Irene Dunne
Winner was Marie DresslerMin and Bill
Best Writing, Adaptation Won Howard Estabrook
Best Art Direction Won Max Rée
Best Cinematography Nominated Edward Cronjager
Winner was Floyd CrosbyTabu



  1. ^ a b c Richard Jewel, 'RKO Film Grosses: 1931–1951', Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, Vol 14 No 1, 1994 p57

External links[edit]