CIMARRON (1960) was MGM's big Cinemascope/colour remake of RKO's 1930 epic production of Edna Ferber's classic story of the same name. From a screenplay by Arnold Schulman it was, I am loathe to say, unevenly directed by Anthony Mann. I am quite astonished - even aghast - that some reviewers on these pages elected to award this film a seven, eight, nine and in some cases a ten star rating? Some even hinted that it is Mann's most underrated western and could be his best work. "Cimarron" is nowhere near his best work! His best work is "El Cid" (1961) and his best western is "Winchester 73" with "The Naked Spur" coming a close second. "Cimarron " isn't even a good western! Not in the normal sense of what is regarded a good western like "Shane", "The Searchers" or "Last Train From Gun Hill". Even Ford's "The Sheepman" is a superior western to "Cimarron"! More lighthearted - sure but much more fun to watch! The first half of CIMARRON isn't at all bad and contains the best staging of the 1889 Oklahoma land rush ever put on the screen and in widescreen too (though in 1992 Ron Howard made a good fist of it in "Far & Away"). But let's face it the second half is relentlessly boring and just drags and drags! Firstly Anne Baxter, who has third billing after the leading lady Maria Schell, is written out of the film which I suppose isn't very noticeable since she didn't have a very important role in the picture anyway. But then Glenn Ford - the star of the movie - is also written out of the picture and only makes a brief and perfunctory reappearance just before the last reel. Then he's up and gone again never to be seen in the movie any more. With its star gone from the film the picture loses much of its balance and never regains the stature it had in the first half. Of course the story is the old chestnut of the mismatched couple who get hitched - she wants to play house and raise a family - while he wants to be charging up San Juan Hill, winning battles wherever they are and never seems to want to come home to his lovely wife. Well, to my mind any man who could leave the stunning Maria Schell - even for a long weekend - isn't playing with a full deck! Hmmm! Nope I'm sorry but I really don't think that "Cimarron" is all that great a movie! There are some great things in it! Besides the gorgeous Miss Schell there is the fine Cinemascope/Colour cinematography of Robert Surtees, the elaborate score by Franz Waxman (his Anthem like choral Main Title and his recurring main theme throughout plus his frenetic music for the land rush is outstanding) and the land rush itself is wonderfully exciting to see but there is nothing in the turgid second half that can persuade me to give this movie any more than a three star rating. Pity!!
The Oklahoma Land Run of April 1889 sets the stage for an epic saga of a frontier adventurer, his wife and family and their friends.
February 1, 2020