Cimarron (1960) - full review!
This big sprawling epic remake of the Academy Award Best Picture winner Cimarron (1931) was directed by Anthony Mann, based on the same Edna Ferber novel but with a much different screenplay from Arnold Schulman. The first half of the story is focused on Yancey 'Cimarron' Cravat, who seems to know everyone, and starts just before the Oklahoma land rush of 1889 while its second half focuses more on Cravat's immigrant wife Sabra, and other characters. Glenn Ford plays the nicknamed title character, Maria Schell his wife, and various (uncredited) actors play the Cravat's son, named Cimarron, through the 25 year story, during which Yancey is missing for fifteen! Running nearly 2 ½ hours, it's more than 15 minutes longer than the original. Anne Baxter, Arthur O'Connell, Russ Tamblyn, Mercedes McCambridge, Vic Morrow, Robert Keith, Charles McGraw, Harry Morgan, David Opatoshu, Aline MacMahon (her fifth from last film), and Edgar Buchanan play other significant roles in the film's plot. Mary Wickes, Royal Dano, and Vladimir Sokoloff are among those who also appear.
'Cimarron' Cravat (Ford) is an American original, a man who has to be where the action is. Hence, he's taken his new bride Sabra (Schell) to the cusp of what will become Oklahoma, the territory about to be settled in a mad rush by those who want to stake their claim to a 160 acre parcel of government land, "first come, first serve". People have come by covered wagons, and on horseback & bicycles, to participate. The Cravats met and assisted poor Tom Wyatt (O'Connell), his wife Sarah (McCambridge) and their eight daughters on their way to the event; Sarah was also nearly accosted by three ruffians, and former acquaintances of her husband's, the Cherokee Kid (Tamblyn), Wes (Morrow), & Hoss (George Brenlin). At the gathering "festival" the night before, Cimarron seemingly knows everyone they come across including newspaper owner & editor Sam Pegler (Keith), his wife Mavis (MacMahon), their printer Jessie Rickey (Morgan), and photographer Ike Howes (Dano). He also saves & befriends an Indian, his squaw, and their baby while making enemies of Bob Yountis (McGraw), who doesn't think "their kind" should be allowed to participate in the land rush. Cimarron also runs into Dixie Lee (Baxter), who (it will later be learned) was one of the women in his life before Sabra, and a pretty serious one as well.
During the spectacle itself, the Indian's wagon is overturned and consequently Pegler is killed because of Yountis’s aggressive & intentional actions; Wyatt misses his chance to claim prime land but his wife Sarah is able to claim the barren land just inside the border. For Yancey's part, he's beaten to the land he'd picked out by the only other one who knew about it, Dixie. So, he becomes the editor of the 'Oklahoma Wigwam' when Mavis decides to go back East; Jessie stays on to work for Yancey. The Cravats settle in the town of Osage, where Yountis continues to cause problems for others including being a bad influence on the Cherokee Kid, who was the son of a man that used to employ Yancey but had lost his fortune to the government in an eminent domain type transaction. Sol Levy (Opatoshu) becomes a temporary victim of Yountis’s prejudice & influence over the Kid, so Sol's naturally befriended by Yancey, who ends up killing both Yountis and the Kid, in time. One outcome of Yountis’s killing is his "adoption" of the Indian's wife (Yountis had killed her husband) and her child at about the same time that the Cravat's son Cimarron is born. Buchanan plays the town's judge, who rejects Yancey's plea to let the Indian child go to school with the other children.
As five years pass, Yancey is more interested in being involved in other world changing events, like the opening of Alaska and being one of Roosevelt's Rough Riders, than he is his family. Dixie finds that she has no influence over him either and, when she's unable to convince him to leave Sabra, she returns to her former profession, only this time she's the owner of her own "Social Club" instead of being one of its girls. With Jessie's help and Sol's friendly financing (he'd begun humbly as a storekeeper himself), Sabra grows the newspaper (eventually into a conglomerate of sorts). Meanwhile, due to Yancey's earlier advice, Wyatt finally struck oil, becoming one of the richest men in the country. When Yancey returns, he's appalled that Wyatt has taken advantage of the Indians by purchasing the oil rights for their reservation. He uses the paper to embarrass Wyatt and his friend Senator Rollins (Robert Carson, uncredited) such that Wyatt tries to manipulate Yancey into accepting the state's governorship in order to control him. Naturally, Yancey refuses to kowtow to their wishes, upsetting Sabra and causing him to disappear again. Ten years pass before Sabra learns the fate of her husband, he'd died fighting World War I. Though Wyatt had planned to recognize her as a symbol of pioneer spirit, she insists at the paper's 25th anniversary, with all including her estranged son & his Indian wife (the Cravats had raised in their home) and Mavis in attendance, that the sculptor (Vladimir Sokoloff) recognize Yancey instead.