Historically speaking, “Cimarron” was the first and only western genre film awarded the Academy Award for Outstanding Production.
“Cimarron,” starring Richard Dix, Irene Dunne, Estelle Taylor, Nance O’Neil and William Collier Jr., revolves around the exploits of a nineteenth century newspaper editor-in-chief in an Oklahoma boom town with his reluctant wife in tow.
With principle cinematography accomplished by Edward Cronjager, the production moviegoers got to see was edited by William Hamilton. Hamilton, best known for his editorial work on the 1929 Ruggles directed “Street Girl,” was seen frequently working with the “Cimarron” director. Relatively speaking, Hamilton has often been referenced as being Ruggles’ go-to-editor of choice.
Of the seven Academy Awards “Cimarron” was nominated for: Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Writing, Adaptation, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director and Outstanding Production, the cast and crew saw three wins.
While the Academy Award for Outstanding Production was picked up by RKO Radio Pictures producer William LeBaron, the golden statuette for Best Cinematography and Best Writing, Adaptation went to Max Rée and Estabrook, respectively.
The Outstanding Production win for “Cimarron” was the first of only two top category Academy Award wins for RKO Radio Pictures, the second of which coming in 1946 when the William Wyler directed romantic war drama “The Best Years of Our Lives” garnered the then Academy Award for Best Motion Picture.
Between wins, the title of the award had charged in 1941 and 1944 to Outstanding Motion Picture and Best Motion Picture, respectively. It was not until 1962 that the current award title, Best Picture, was established.