Cimarron (1960 film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed byAnthony Mann[a]
Screenplay byArnold Schulman
Based onCimarron
1930 novel
by Edna Ferber
Produced byEdmund Grainger
StarringGlenn Ford
Maria Schell
Anne Baxter
Harry Morgan
CinematographyRobert Surtees
Edited byJohn D. Dunning
Music byFranz Waxman
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • December 1, 1960 (1960-12-01) (premiere)
Running time
147 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$4,825,000[2]

Cimarron is a 1960 American Western film based on the Edna Ferber novel Cimarron. The film stars Glenn Ford and Maria Schell and was directed by Anthony Mann and Charles Walters, though Walters is not credited onscreen.[1] Ferber's novel was previously adapted as a film in 1931; that version won three Academy Awards.

Cimarron was the first of three epics (along with El Cid and The Fall of the Roman Empire) that 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 joins her new husband, lawyer Yancey "Cimarron" Cravat, during the Oklahoma land rush of 1889. They encounter Yancey's old friend William "The Kid" Hardy and his buddies Wes Jennings and Hoss Barry. On the trail, Yancey helps Tom and Sarah Wyatt and their eight children, taking them aboard their wagons.

It seems to Sabra that her husband knows everyone in Oklahoma. A small crowd cheers Bob Yountis and his henchman Millis when they attack an Indian family. Yancey joins his friend Sam Pegler, editor of the Oklahoma Wigwam newspaper, in resisting Yountis.

Yountis warns Pegler against using the paper for his crusading as he had done in Texas. Sabra is angry that Yancey risked his life for an Indian but she helps the others, including peddler Sol Levy and printer Jesse Rickey, in righting the Indians' overturned wagon. Sam and his wife Mavis reveal more about Yancey's past as a cowboy, gambler, gunman and lawyer.

When 50,000 settlers race across the prairie to claim land, Tom falls and Sarah claims a dry, worthless patch. Pegler is trampled to death, and Dixie beats Yancey to the land that he wanted, so he asks Jesse to stay to help him run the paper.

In the new town of Osage, which consists of tents and half-built storefronts, Yountis and The Kid terrorize Levy in the street. Yancey tries but fails to persuade the Kid to change. One night, Yountis leads a lynch mob against the Indian family. Yancey arrives too late to stop it, but he kills Yountis and brings Arita and her baby Ruby home. Meanwhile, Sabra gives birth to a boy whom they name Cimarron, Cim for short.

Four years later, Osage is thriving. Tom has built an oil-drilling apparatus but he is a laughingstock. Wes, Hoss and The Kid, wanted outlaws, try to rob a train but are all killed soon after. When Yancey destroys the $1,000 reward check, Sabra is furious because he does not consider their son's security. Yancey leaves to be part of the Cherokee Strip, but Sabra refuses to join him. Years later, he returns and Sabra and Cim forgive him.

Tom finally strikes oil, but Yancey is disgusted to learn that Tom bought the rights to oil found on Indian land. However, Yancey's campaign to win the Indians justice is a huge success, and he is invited to become governor of the Oklahoma Territory. Sabra is disappointed to discover that Cim and Ruby have grown close.

In Washington, D.C., Yancey finds Tom with a group of influential men and learns that the price of his appointment is his integrity. When Yancy tells Sabra that he can't be governor, she sends him away forever.

Cim and Ruby marry without warning and set off for Oregon, though Sabra tells him that he is throwing his life away.

Ten years later, on the occasion of the Oklahoma Wigwam's 25th anniversary, the United States’ entry into World War I is announced. Later, Sabra hears that Yancey has been killed in the war.




Cameo / Uncredited[edit]


In February 1941, MGM bought the remake rights to Cimarron from RKO for $100,000.[3] In 1947, MGM announced an operetta version starring Kathryn Grayson and produced by Arthur Freed,[4] but this did not happen. In February 1958, MGM announced its plans to produce Cimarron as the studio's second film using the MGM Camera 65 process following Raintree Country (1957).[5][6] One month later, Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson were considered to star in the film.[7] Ultimately, Glenn Ford, who previously starred in the Westerns such as 3:10 to Yuma (1957) and The Sheepman (1958), was attached to star.[8]

In October 1959, Arnold Schulman was signed to write the screenplay.[9] For his script, Schulman introduced several characters, including those of journalist Sam Pegler (Robert Keith) and Wes Jennings (Vic Morrow), while removing the Cravats' daughter, Donna and a boy named Isaiah.[1] King Vidor declined an invitation to direct.[10] Anthony Mann was eventually named as director. Known primarily for the critically acclaimed hits The Glenn Miller Story (1954) and Men in War (1957), Mann had previously directed eight Westerns. However, disagreements with producer Edmund Grainger caused Mann to leave the project halfway through filming. Mann had wanted to film entirely on location, but Grainger wanted a majority of scenes instead to be filmed in studio.[11] Director Charles Walters finished the film but received no screen credit.[1]

The climactic scene portraying the Oklahoma Land Rush was shot in Arizona[12] and featured over 1,000 extras, 700 horses and 500 wagons and buggies; these numbers according to writeups on the 1960 released film at, and[citation needed]

Anne Baxter, who played Dixie Lee, revealed in her autobiography Intermission that Ford and Maria Schell developed an offscreen romance: "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, by the end of filming, "... he scarcely glanced or spoke in her direction, and she looked as if she were in shock."[13]


Book Author's Reaction[edit]

In a letter reprinted in the New York Times on March 5th, 1961, and also partially reprinted at both and, Cimarron 1930 Book Author Edna Ferber wrote: "I received from this second picture of my novel not one single penny in payment. I can't even do anything to stop the motion-picture company from using my name in advertising so slanted that it gives the effect of my having written the picture....I shan't go into the anachronisms in dialogue; the selection of a foreign-born play the part of an American-born bride; the repetition; the bewildering lack of sequence....I did see Cimarron...four weeks ago. This old gray head turned almost black during those two (or was it three?) hours."

Box Office[edit]

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

Critical Reaction[edit]

Harrison's Reports wrote: "The background music is undistinguished. There's enough marquee strength, action, romance, and the 'land rush' scene at the beginning is worth the price of a soft ticket. Color photography is outstanding."[14] Thomas M. Pryor, reviewing for Variety, praised Schell and Ford's performances, and wrote "Although Cimarron is not without flaws—thoughtful examination reveals a pretentiousness of social significance more than valid exposition—the script plays well."[15]

Bosley Crowther of The New York Times felt the film's opening "makes for a dynamic and illustrative sequence on the screen. But once the land rush is over in this almost two-and-one-half-hour-long film—and we have to tell you it is assembled and completed within the first half-hour—the remaining dramatization of Miss Ferber's bursting 'Cimarron' simmers down to a stereotyped and sentimental cinema saga of the taming of the frontier."[16] A review in Time magazine criticized the film's length, writing Cimarron "might more suitably have been called Cimarron-and-on-and-on-and-on. It lasts 2 hours and 27 minutes, and for at least half of that time most spectators will probably be Oklacomatose."[17]

Awards and nominations[edit]

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).[18][19]

Glenn Ford's performance earned a nomination for a Laurel Award for Top Action Performance, though he did not win.[20]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ During the middle of filming, Mann left the project and was replaced by Charles Walters who was uncredited.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Tatara, Paul. "Cimarron (1960)". Turner Classic Movies. Archived from the original on May 23, 2021. Retrieved December 15, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Mannix, Eddie (1962). "The Eddie Mannix Ledger". Margaret Herrick Library. OCLC 801258228. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)[page needed]
  3. ^ "Metro Buys 'Cimarron' Rights From RKO for $100,000". The New York Times. February 22, 1941. p. 11.
  4. ^ Brady, Thomas F. (November 24, 1947). "'Cimarron' Remake Listed by Metro". The New York Times. p. 30.
  5. ^ "Metro Remakes 'Cimarron'". Variety. February 26, 1958. p. 20. Retrieved September 28, 2021 – via Internet Archive.
  6. ^ Pryor, Thomas M. (February 20, 1958). "U.S. vs. Al Capone To Be Film Theme". The New York Times. p. 29.
  7. ^ "41 Westerns On Hoof in 1958". Variety. March 5, 1958. p. 4. Retrieved January 4, 2022 – via Internet Archive.
  8. ^ Scheuer, Philip K. (February 17, 1959). "Glenn Ford Value Seen as 'Built' Star: Ava Gardner His Likely Lead; Producer Cites Other Examples". Los Angeles Times. p. C7.
  9. ^ "Schulman Forms Production Unit". The New York Times. October 8, 1959. p. 49.
  10. ^ "Entertainment Films Stage Music: Viertel Film Will Not Star Deborah". Los Angeles Times. September 11, 1959. p. B6.
  11. ^ Bassinger 2007, p. 146.
  12. ^ Rothwell, John H. (January 10, 1960). "Shot on the Old 'Cimarron' Trail". The New York Times. p. X7.
  13. ^ Baxter 1976, p. 196.
  14. ^ "'Cimarron' with Glenn Ford, Maria Schell, Anne Baxter". Harrison's Reports. December 10, 1960. p. 198. Retrieved January 4, 2022 – via Internet Archive.
  15. ^ "Film Reviews: Cimarron". Variety. December 7, 1960. p. 6. Retrieved January 4, 2022 – via Internet Archive.
  16. ^ Crowther, Bosley (February 17, 1961). "Screen: New 'Cimarron'". The New York Times. Retrieved January 4, 2022.
  17. ^ "Cinema: Oklacoma: Cimarron". Time. February 24, 1961. Retrieved January 4, 2022.
  18. ^ "The 33rd Academy Awards (1961) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved August 22, 2011.
  19. ^ "Cimarron". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. 2009. Archived from the original on August 13, 2009. Retrieved December 24, 2008.
  20. ^ "Glenn Ford". IMDb. Retrieved February 15, 2019.


External links[edit]