Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Cimarron (1931)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Cimarron (1931)

In this early RKO sound western and Best Picture/Production winner (undeserving) based on the best-selling Edna Ferber epic by director Wesley Ruggles, covering the time period from 1889 to 1929:

  • the breathtaking reenactment of the homesteaders' wild dash in the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889, prefaced by the opening's second title screen: "In 1889, President Harrison opened the vast Indian Oklahoma Lands for white settlement... 2,000,000 acres free for the taking, poor and rich pouring in, swarming the border, waiting for the starting gun, at noon, April 22nd"
  • the relationship between ambitious adventurer Yancey Cravat (Richard Dix), a newspaper editor-publisher and progressive thinker, and his strong-willed wife Sabra (Irene Dunne) (often called "Sugar"), and Yancey's frequent wanderlust nomadic spirit that often led him to abandon his loving wife and family
  • the embarrassing, racist characterization (although common at the time) of the Cravat's uneducated black servant boy Isaiah (Eugene Jackson), whistling and shining shoes in the film's opening credits, and his main role to provide comic relief, and his joyful exclamation when Yancey pointed out an overflowing cart selling watermelons when they pulled into Osage, Oklahoma!: ("Yah sir, I'm sure glad I came to Oklahome!")
Racist Characterizations
  • Yancey's courtroom defense of brothel madam Dixie Lee (Estelle Taylor) in the local town when she was accused of adultery, and his winning of her acquittal after a speech to the jury about how she should be judged for her actions and not her guilt: ("Why gentlemen, a thief or murderer may sin alone and is alone to blame, but this woman is not alone. Social order is her accomplice. If she is guilty, then all in this room are guilty")
  • the concluding reunion-reconciliation scene between Sabra and her lethally-injured husband Yancey after an act of heroic bravery in rescuing oil drillers, when they embraced and he passed away
  • the film's last image - the unveiling of a memorial statue (of Yancey?) - a commemorative tribute to Oklahoma's forefathers and pioneers (A.D. 1930)

The Oklahoma Land Rush Sequence

Yancey with Sabra

Yancey's Courtroom Defense of Dixie Lee

Memorial Statue


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