review for Cimarron on AllMovie

Cimarron (1960)
by Craig Butler review

There's no doubt that the land rush sequence in the 1960 version of Cimarron is one of the most exciting and stimulating sequences from the cinema of the period. Director Anthony Mann, cinematographer Robert Surtees and editor John D. Dunning, with an able assist from Franz Waxman's stirring score, make this segment striking, memorable and dramatic, a visual feast that keeps the heart pounding from start to finish. Had the rest of Cimarron had half of this sequence's impact, it would have been one of the finest films of the period. Unfortunately, that's not the case. Oh, there are things to like in it, including the way Mann uses his camera and the widescreen process to capture stunning vistas and give a truly epic feel to portions of the film. Glenn Ford is also well cast, and Maria Schell doesn't do poorly, and they're supported by solid turns from Mercedes McCambridcge, Arthur O'Connell and Anne Baxter, among others. But Mann isn't able to focus the dramatic throughline in the film. He may perhaps have been aiming for some interesting ambivalence and ambiguity in the characters, their actions and the perceptions of their actions by others, but what comes across is confusion and, ultimately, disinterest. The film goes on for too long; Arnold Shulman's screenplay gets bogged down several times, and character motivation becomes fuzzy. Still, when it works, it's gangbusters, and those sequences that do work make it worth viewing.