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Cimarron Reviews

Edna Ferber's red-blooded western saga. Its biggest scene--the Oklahoma Land Rush--employs thousands of extras racing pell-mell on horseback, in wagons and on foot to stake out claims on the two million acres opened to settlers on April 22, 1889. Among this frenzied horde are Richard Dix and his young wife, Irene Dunne. Much of the film, which covers 40 years from 1889 to 1929, rests upon the considerable talents of the lovely Dunne, whose Sabra Cravat is followed from girlhood until she becomes a grand old woman of the West. They manage to stake out a prize piece of territory, but scheming Estelle Taylor replaces their marker and takes the land herself. Dix establishes a newspaper, liberally complementing the power of the press with his own quick-draw brand of justice (in one dramatic confrontation, he shoots the earlobe off a bully), but the tough westerner has a big heart. When the same Taylor who robbed him of land is later put on trial for prostitution, Dix defends her in court. But he is also consumed by wanderlust, often leaving Dunne for long periods of time, and the film follows their relationship's inevitible changes. CIMARRON cost RKO a staggering $1.5 million, the largest budget the studio ever committed to a film up to that time. Though it received across-the-board raves, the film lost more than half a million dollars. Dunne is superb and CIMARRON was considered until the late 1940s the finest Western ever made. Its biggest drawback is Dix, whose performance has dated badly. Still, it holds up surprisingly well today; the 1960 remake of CIMARRON fizzles by comparison.