I think at some point I’ve explained on the blog that the reason that I’m doing this project alphabetically was to avoid “getting stuck in the 30s.” Well, so far the early winners I’ve watched (All Quiet on the Western Front and Cavalcade) had pleasantly surprised me. But…um…this one…did not. But, I found a really good cinnamon coffee cake recipe. (I chose it because I knew literally nothing about this movie going in except it’s name, which sounds like cinnamon.) But first, this mess of a movie:
Had I seen this one before?
Nope. I thought it was about a horse named Cimarron, but it’s about a dude named Yancey Cravat, his wife Sabra, and very tangentially their son named Cimarron. (It literally took us until the penultimate scene to realize this.
Top 3 observations on this viewing?
- This movie is a racist, misogynist, anti-Semitic mess. Made even more so by the fact that it thinks it is being progressive by portraying Native Americans and sex workers and Jews at all without explicit condemnation. But this is how they introduce the character of Yancey’s black servant Isaiah (Eugene Jackson):
Yes that’s an actual child hung up above a dinner table to fan the white people eating a meal. It does not get better for this character from here
2. The plot pacing of this is insane. It starts with the Land Run of 1889 in Oklahoma (with nary a mention of the Native Americans that land was stolen from by the way) and then it jumps a few times, first by 3 years, then 5, then like 20. And the main character, Yancey, disappears from the story with very little explanation twice. His wife (Irene Dunne) in the meantime has become a congresswoman, but we don’t get any details on that, because…her husband wasn’t there while it happened? Or something?
Also Richard Dix wears SO. MUCH. MAKEUP. throughout the whole film
3. All of that being said, I know why the Academy wanted to honor this film. It was grand and ambitious, and technically a marvel for the time. I mean, look at how many people they got racing in the opening sequence:
Apparently it took 40 cameras to capture, which is impressive, I guess.
What did it beat? Did it deserve to win?
East Lynne – Never seen it. But the IMDB plot description seems like it as bonkers as this, but maybe less racist?
Skippy – Didn’t know this existed until right now, but it’s interesting that what is essentially a kids movie could get nominated for Best Picture at this point.
The Front Page – I’m not sure if I’ve seen this version, but I LOVE this play
Trader Horn – Also never seen this. But it’s IMDB plot includes the phrase “darkest Africa,” so it’s probably as racist as this, if not more
Umm…I obviously can’t really judge, but The Front Page is at least fun to watch. My friends and I needed multiple bottles of wine to make it through Cimarron, so…I’d say give to Ben Hecht.
Bechdel Test pass?
Actually, yes. There are at least 4 named women, and they talk to each other about each other, and land, and the threat of those savage Native Americans. So…again, not the bastion of progressive values that it thought itself to be, but the women in it are human beings.
On the bright side, this coffee cake (adapted from this recipe) was delicious! And super easy to make!
Easy Cinnamon Coffee Cake
- 3 cups of flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1.5 cups milk
- 2 eggs
- 4 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 stick butter, melted
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Whisk together flour, salt, sugar, baking powder
- In a separate bowl mix milk, eggs, and vanilla
- Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet (I did it a cup at a time mixing completely after each step)
- Add the melted butter
- Pour batter evenly into a greased 9×13 baking pan
- Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together
- Spread cinnamon sugar evenly onto better
- Swirl sugar with a fork
- Bake for 30 minutes
- Let cool and enjoy!