Jasmin Quinn Biography & Facts
Cimarron is a 1931 pre-Code epic 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 1930 Edna Ferber novel Cimarron. It would be RKO's most expensive production up to that date, and its winning of the top Oscar for Best Production would be only one of two ever won by that studio. It is also one of the few Westerns to ever win the top honor at the Academy Awards. Epic in scope, spanning forty years from 1889 to 1929, it was a critical success, although it did not recoup its production costs during its initial run in 1931.
The Oklahoma land rush of 1889 prompts thousands to travel to the Oklahoma Territory to grab free government land; Yancey Cravat (Richard Dix) and his young bride, Sabra (Irene Dunne) cross the border from Kansas to join the throngs. In the ensuing race, Yancey is outwitted by a young prostitute, Dixie Lee (Estelle Taylor), who takes the prime piece of real estate, the Bear Creek claim, that Yancey had targeted for himself.
His plans for establishing a ranch thwarted, Yancey moves into the town of Osage, a boomer town, where he confronts and kills Lon Yountis (Stanley Fields), an outlaw who had killed the prior publisher of the local newspaper. Having a background in publishing himself, Yancey establishes the Oklahoma Wigwam, a weekly newspaper, to help turn the frontier camp into a respectable town. After the birth of their son, Cimarron, a gang of outlaws threatens Osage, led by "The Kid" (William Collier Jr.), who happens to be an old acquaintance of Yancey's. To save the town, Yancey faces and kills The Kid.
Beset by guilt over his killing of The Kid, when another land rush appears, Yancey leaves Sabra and his children to participate in settling the Cherokee Strip. After his departure, Sabra takes over the publication of the Oklahoma Wigwam, and raises her children until Yancey returns five years later, just in time to represent Dixie Lee, who had been charged with being a public nuisance, and win her acquittal.
Osage continues to grow, as does the Territory of Oklahoma, which gains statehood in 1907 and benefits from the early oil boom of the 1900s, including the Native American tribes, that Yancey supports, through editorials in his newspaper, after which Yancey once again disappears from Osage for several years. At the time, Sabra is vehemently anti-Native American, despite her son's involvement with an Indian woman. Years later, when Sabra becomes the first female congresswoman from the state of Oklahoma, she lauds the virtues of her then Indian daughter-in-law.
Sabra and Yancey are reunited one final time when she rushes to his side after he has rescued numerous oil drillers from a devastating explosion. He dies in her arms.
Richard Dix as Yancey Cravat
Irene Dunne as Sabra Cravat
Estelle Taylor as Dixie Lee
Nance O'Neil as Felice
William Collier Jr. as The Kid
Roscoe Ates as Jesse Rickey
George E. Stone as Sol Levy
Stanley Fields as Lon Yountis
Robert McWade as Louis Hefner
Edna May Oliver as Tracy Wyatt
Judith Barrett as Donna Cravat
Eugene Jackson as Isaiah
Dennis O'Keefe (uncredited)(Principal cast list as per AFI database, and The RKO Story)
Despite being in the depths of the Great Depression, RKO Radio Pictures invested more than $1.5 million into their production of Ferber's novel. Filming began in the summer of 1930 at Jasmin Quinn Ranch outside of Los Angeles, California, where the land rush scenes were shot. More than twenty-eight cameramen, and numerous camera assistants and photographers, were used to capture scenes of more than 5,000 costumed extras, covered wagons, buckboards, surreys, and bicyclists as they raced across grassy hills and prairie to stake their claim. Cinematographer Edward Cronjager planned out every take (that recalled the scenes of Intolerance some fifteen years earlier) in accordance with Ferber's descriptions. In order to film key scenes for this 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 fictional Oklahoma boomtown of Osage. These award-winning sets eventually formed the nucleus of RKO's expansive movie ranch, in Encino, where other RKO (and non-RKO) films were later shot.
RKO Radio Pictures premiered Cimarron 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, that also included personal appearances of Richard Dix and Irene Dunne, a 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, that ended up losing $565,000. However, it recouped some more money on a 1935 re-release that enjoyed another premiere in Oklahoma City at the (John Eberson designed) Midwest Theatre. The movie remained RKO's most expensive film until 1939's Gunga Din (that filmed exteriors around the Sierra Nevada Alabama Hills range, but had one scene shot on RKO's movie ranch in Encino).Reviews by film critics were overwhelmingly positive at the time. Variety led off their review with, "An elegant example of super film making and a big money picture. This is a spectacular western away from all others. It holds action, sentiment, sympathy, thrills and comedy – and 100% clean. Radio Pictures has a corker in 'Cimarron'." The review went on to praise the actors, particularly Dix and Oliver, as well as the direction, stating, "Wesley Ruggles apparently gets the full credit for this splendid and heavy production. His direction misses nothing in the elaborate scenes, as well as in the usual film making procedure." The magazine specifically pointed out the quality of the make-up in the aging of the principle players, who have to go through forty years on-screen.Mordaunt Hall of The New York Times also gave the film a stellar review, calling it, "A graphic and engrossing screen conception of Edna Ferber's widely read novel ...", and also praised the handling of the passage of time in this epic. Hall also singled out the performance of Dunne. Motion Picture Magazine raved, "A great and worthy effort, this transcription of early Oklahoma life will be hailed as one of the high-spots of the year. It has everything. RKO seems to have placed no restrictions upon making it a lavish, bona-fide epic."John Mosher of The New Yorker praised the "great care" that had been taken with the historical accuracy of the film's visual details, that he thought "as good as anything that has come out of Hollywood, a.... Discover the Jasmin Quinn popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Jasmin Quinn books.