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The film's opening title cards reads: "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents Edna Ferber's Cimarron." According to a September 1940 Hollywood Reporter news item, Wesley Ruggles, who directed the first screen version of Ferber's novel, the 1931 RKO film Cimarron (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40), was interested in re-doing the story as a musical for Columbia. In July 1941, Hollywood Reporter then reported that M-G-M planned to team Clark Gable and Norma Shearer in a remake of the 1931 film. Neither project was realized, however.
According to a March 1958 Daily Variety news item, producer Edmund Grainger wanted Rock Hudson to play the male lead in what became the 1960 release, which at that time was to be scripted by Halstead Welles. Welles's contribution to the completed picture has not been determined. Hollywood Reporter news items add that George Hamilton, Dean Stockwell and Steve McQueen were considered for the role of "The Kid," Eva Marie Saint was considered for the role of "Sabra Cravat" and Carolyn Jones was initially cast as "Dixie Lee." According to a November 19, 1959 Hollywood Reporter news item, M-G-M secured a two-month early release from the U.S. Army for actor Russ Tamblyn to appear in the film. New York Times news item noted that many scenes in the film were shot on location around Tucson and Mescal, AZ.
The land rush scene employed a crowd of 1,000 extras, 700 horses and 500 wagons and buggies. Additional location shooting was completed on ranches in the San Fernando Valley. A February 1960 Los Angeles Mirror-News item added that the fictional town of Osage was built on three sound stages comprising over eleven acres at the M-G-M lot, making it the biggest western community in the studio's history.
In a March 5, 1961 letter printed in New York Times, Ferber wrote: "I received from this second picture of my novel not one single penny in payment. I can't even do anything to stop the motion-picture company from using my name in advertising so slanted that it gives the effect of my having written the picture....I shan't go into the anachronisms in dialogue; the selection of a foreign-born actress...to play the part of an American-born bride; the repetition; the bewildering lack of sequence....I did see Cimarron...four weeks ago. This old gray head turned almost black during those two (or was it three?) hours." Cimarron received an Academy Award nomination for Best Sound, but lost to The Alamo.