This Oscar®-winning epic on Oklahoma is based on the novel by Edna Ferber. In 1889 two million acres of Indian Territory were opened in the greatest land rush ever. Yancey (Richard Dix) takes his wife Sabra (Irene Dunne) and his son named Cimarron (meaning wild and unruly) to start a newspaper in the boomtown Osage. In 1893 the restless Yancey leaves his wife to join another land rush on the Cherokee Strip. She takes over editing the newspaper and doesn’t see him for five years until he returns from the Spanish-American War. Then oil is struck on the Osage reservation and Yancey runs for governor as a progressive. A major conflict arises when he refuses to accept the support of Pat Leary because the latter has a scheme to rob the Indians of their oil. In protest, Yancey writes an editorial criticizing the government’s bad treatment of the Native Americans and recommends Indian citizenship. Then he hits the trail again, abandoning his wife and family. Nevertheless, Sabra continues to edit the newspaper under his name, and for the 40th anniversary edition she reprints Yancey’s editorial on Indian citizenship as his ideas have become law. —TCM
Wesley Ruggles (June 11, 1889 – January 8, 1972) was an American film director.
He was born in Los Angeles, a younger brother of actor Charles Ruggles. He began his career in 1915 as an actor, appearing in a dozen or so silent films, on occasion with Charles Chaplin.
In 1917, he turned his attention to directing, making more than 50 mostly forgettable films — including a silent film version of Edith Wharton’s novel The Age of Innocence (1924) — before he won acclaim with Cimarron in 1931. The adaptation of Edna Ferber’s novel Cimarron, about homesteaders settling in the prairies of Oklahoma, was the first Western to win an Academy Award as Best Picture.
Although Ruggles followed this success with the light comedy No Man of Her Own (1932) with Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, the comedy I’m No Angel (1933) with Mae West and Cary Grant, College Humor (1933) with Bing Crosby, and Bolero (1934) with George Raft and Carole Lombard, few of his later films were in any way… read more
What a terribly written, badly acted, and ironically racist movie. This won Best Picture... how?
I'd contest the 'ironically racist', except in one very early scene at the dining-table, which is in the stock idiom of the time, but doesn't care. Usually it does care. It tries very hard to deal with racism, works it into the script as an ongoing problem, and counters it with big mixed crowd scenes - as well as Richard Dix making speeches, obviously. A shame the Big Pioneer Man is never blamed for anything and it's all shuffled off on nasty rough guys and women with not enough in their purty little heads.... It's not perfect, but it tries, and for 1931 that's creditable, no?