Sunday, October 2, 2011

Cimarron - 77

1931 Oscar Winner.  No one that any of us would know acting in this movie... but to follow the theme, Richard Dix & Irene Dunne. Both nominated for acting.

So.... this is your typical Western, as all movies should be when filmed in 1931. These are my favorite movies to watch (dripping sarcasm).  Old westerns yessir.  Let me put it this way... the main characters names are Yancey and Sabra.  C'mon man! Those are fairly epic names, even for a western.

So in short, it's 1889 and President Harrison opens up the territories in Oklahoma on a first come first served basis.  So hundreds of people line up and wait for a "shotgun start", quite literally,  and then they all race to find the land they want.  So an editor of a newspaper in Wichita (Yancey) decides to pack up all his belongings, with wife and son in tow and move to "Oklahomy".  Originally Yancey gets beaten to the patch of land he wanted by a woman named Dixie Lee, so they settle in Osage

My first impression?  Dirt.  So much dirt.  Someone gets kicked out of the bar and as they fall you can see the dirt billowing from his clothes.  The amount of dirt in this movie reminds me of the amount of sand in Lawrence of Arabia.  In fact one of the very first scenes of the movie has so much dust and dirt flying about I could almost taste it.

One of my favorite aspects of the movie were the lines that they would use and the phrases they would say.  I've learned how to speak "Western".  Let me share my new wisdom;

"HIGH RICKITY!"- when you're surprised about something.
"Why, you old letch monger!" - when excited to see someone you haven't seen in a long time.
"Stick to your lawn!" - stay out of my business.
And to say to your buddy about a woman who "pleases the eye";
"Ain't she a huckleberry?"
"Lollapalooza, field up, pert and chipper" (By far my favorite in the movie, they used the term "Lollapalooza" back in the 1930's?!? This baffles me)

There is so much going on in this movie I'm not even sure where to go... about an hour into the movie Yancey is convinced to give the first sermon of the town of Osage.  He uses the time to talk about his new newspaper, some of his sins, kind of about God and His temple, and then the service ends with a prayers after a shootout in the middle of it. Where Yancey ends up killing Yon Lountis because he killed the old newspaper editor.

Dixie Lee makes a triumphant come back and Yancey remains polite and his wife Sabra gets very jealous of this fact.  Calling Dixie a heathenish woman, mainly because of the rumors that are milling around of the type of woman Dixie is, if you know what I mean...

Blah blah blah, lots of random gun fights because it's your typical Western Movie and there are lots of outlaws, drunks, etc.

Typically with films of this era I cannot stand the acting nor the camera work, and it's not because I think they could have done better but more the fact that I believe I have been spoiled by modern day technology and "movie glamour".  But this one isn't that terrible for 1931.  In fact, one of the very first scenes of the movie when they do "The Run" to claim land was quite dangerous for its time.  It's not like they had computer graphicing to super impose in hundreds of extras riding horses and pulling wagons.  Can you imagine if one of them fell?  Or one of the wagons tipped over?  Game over man...  Those extras were taking quite the risk to help make one scene in a film.  Especially since film hasn't completely taken off yet in the early 30's.

The acting is actually bearable, and some of the scenes are able to convey emotion that I haven't seen in movies this early.  Isiah, their young work boy, was shot during a shootout and when they found his body I felt a tiny bit verklempt.

Yancey leaves for many years at a time.  When he heard of adventure he would not be able to resist the temptation of the new excitement and would pack up and leave his family for his own happiness.  Meanwhile the townspeople still worshiped the ground that he walked on.  This is the point in the movie my opinion of Yancey as a good man/husband completely changed.  Packing up and leaving your family for your own personal gain?  One of the most unattractive character traits a person can have, in my opinion.  (I'll step off my soap box now...)

Yancey dies at the end and his last words as he is dying in Sabra's arms are "Hide me, hide me in your love", Sabra replies with "sleep my boy, sleep".  Then it cuts to the final scene of a statue being reveiled of "Oklahoma's Pioneer", and of course it's of Yancey Cravat.  Music builds and the screen fades to black.  A very poignant final scene that indicates the love that Sabra and Yancey still have for each other.  

All in all, Cimarron was actually a very interesting movie about changing times and the rising American economy and how it impacts the lives of a family.  How one city was literally raised from dirt into a booming town.  How one woman follows her husband to "Oklahomy", has that husband leave her for extended periods of time to "discover new adventures and land" and in the meantime takes over the paper and eventually becomes a congresswoman.  The more I think about it, the ending of the film was really about the strength of an independent woman.  Sabra, in the end, has to raise her children and run a newspaper all by herself.  In the 1920's that's a pretty big deal.

Would I recommend the movie?  I'm not sure.  I'd rather just tell you about it than you trying to hunt down this film and spend 2 hours watching it.

So, until next time...

Thank you Academy #77