Cimarron (1931)



Critic Consensus: Cimarron is supported by a strong performance from Irene Dunne, but uneven in basically every other regard, and riddled with potentially offensive stereotypes.

Movie Info

Cimarron was the first Western to win the Oscar for Best Picture--and, until Dances with Wolves in 1990, the only one. The film begins on April 22, 1889, the opening day of the great Oklahoma Land Rush on the Cherokee Strip. Boisterous Yancey Cravat (Richard Dix) is cheated out of his land claim by the devious Dixie Lee (Estelle Taylor). Instead of becoming a homesteader, Cravat establishes a muckraking newspaper, and with pistols in hand he becomes a widely respected (and widely feared) … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Western, Drama, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Howard Estabrook, Edna Ferber
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jan 31, 2006
MGM Home Entertainment


as Yancey Cravat

as Sabra Cravat

as Dixie Lee

as Felice Venable

as Jess Rickey

as Sol Levy

as Louie Heffner

as Mr. Bixby

as Mrs. Tracy Wyatt

as Baby Big Elk `Eldest...

as Baby Big Elk `Youngs...

as Murch Rankin

as Grat Gotch

as Louis Venable

as Donna Cravat `Eldest...

as Donna Cravat `Younge...

as Cim `Eldest'

as Cim `Younger'

as Cim `Youngest'

as Yancey Jr.

as Aunt Cassandra

as Dabney Venable

as Cousin Bella

as Jonett Goforth

as Arminta Greenwood

as Pat Leary

as Killer

as Indian Girl

as Lon Yountis

as Cim (older)
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Cimarron

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (5)

"Cimarron" is magnificent in scope, powerful in treatment, admirable in acting. But it is even more than all this. It is one of few talking picture productions which inspires rather than awes.

Full Review… | February 17, 2015
New York Daily News
Top Critic

It is a long, full-bodied picture, paced so deftly that although it covers more than half a century of crowded, changing events, it never drags and is rarely jerky.

Full Review… | February 17, 2009
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

This is a spectacular western away from all others. It holds action, sentiment, sympathy, thrills and comedy -- and 100% clean.

Full Review… | January 28, 2008
Top Critic

A graphic and engrossing screen conception.

Full Review… | March 25, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Critically lauded at the time of its release, Cimarron was beloved by most who saw it. Eight decades later, it is frequently cited on lists of the most undeserving Academy Award winners.

Full Review… | January 26, 1931
Top Critic

I can see the epic tragic scope that Cimarron was going for, and I can glean the dramatic irony inherent in the hugeness of it all, but it just doesn't work. It's a stiff, unengaging movie.

Full Review… | March 24, 2014

Audience Reviews for Cimarron

A land rusher and his wife attempt to conquer the West.
I think one's judgement of this film rests with one's judgement of its main character. Some may see Yancey Cravat as a just, forward-thinking tough paragon of masculinity. However, I see him as a braggart, demeaning, and ludicrous prick. His heavy-handed treatment of his wife, his version of vigilante "justice," his proselytizing sermons, and his posturing nonsense wear on me to the point where I find it impossible to spend one moment in his presence. He's the type of person who so full of himself that there's nothing left for anyone else.
The plot of the film serves Yancey. Each turn of the story is meant to render him more fully masculine and more admirably heroic, but what is left when an audience finds themselves unconvinced of his "awesomeness?" Not a damn thing.
Overall, this guy is an asshole, and that makes the film an asshole too.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Okay, so this film is historically significant since it's the first western to win an Oscar (in general), and also for (somehow) snagging Best Picture. I think this is definitely a case of tastes changing. This was seen as a marvelously lavish and epic film in its time. Now it's a horribly dated, irrelevant and racist mess. I will give it credit for being an interesting look at the values of the society that it was produced in. Aside from that, there's not really much of a reason to see this unless you're an Oscar completist of die hard fan of 30s cinema.

The story (based on a historical novel) tells the sotry of a man and wife set against the backdrop of the early history and development of Oklahoma. It should be an adventurous story of progress and adventure but is instead a creaky, scattershot melodrama with racist overtones in its portrayal of ethnic minorities. At the time the film was considered progressive, and no one batted an eye over the content. Yeah...can't say the same for how it fares now. I've seen movies that were far more racist, but thpse also had other aspects that helped me forgive them or at least be more understanding. This film, aside from being lavishly staged, isn't really technically innovative or remarkable. The opening scenes are decent though. At least hte film contains one character who serves as a counterpoint to the dominant views and is sympathetic with or understanding of the minorities. That helps, but it's not enough. It's also boring and unengaging.

Well, that pretty much sums this one up. It's not terrible, but there's really isn't a reason to see this beyond what I've previously mentioned.

Chris Weber

Super Reviewer


Creaky antique that somewhat inexplicably won the second best picture Oscar ever awarded. Taking into account that films had just started to talk perhaps that is part of the reason for the prize going to this exercise in overacted storytelling. Although today the picture is quite racist in the context of the time it might of even been considered progressive. The print is in pretty rough shape and Dix in particular is over the top, to be far most actors of the time hadn't learned yet how to modulate down their performances from the silents. Read the much better book instead.

jay nixon

Super Reviewer

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