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The Big Country [Blu-ray]
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Some reviewers have dismissed this as a "B" movie but I do not. The quality of the acting (notably Ives's which earned him an Academy Award for best supporting actor) is outstanding. Although in what I guess could be considered a minor role as Steve Leech, Terrill's ramrod, Charlton Heston delivers a remarkably nuanced and controlled performance as does Chuck Connors as Buck Hannassey. This is much less a western than a study of two patriarchs (Terrill and Hannassey) who play a zero sum game to gain control of access to water on which they and their herds obviously depend. But there is something else at work in this great but (for whatever reasons) under appreciated film. Julie Maragon is quite willing to allow both patriarchs access to the water. That is not the core issue: rather, it is the conflict between the inflated egos of two proud and stubborn men who detest each other.
For me, one of the most memorable scenes occurs when, just before dawn, McKay and Leech finally have it out. It is an awkward but inevitable and immensely effective fist fight, with much of it filmed as if we were observing it at a distance. Of course, the fist fight achieves nothing other than demonstrating that McKay is more of a "man" than Leech once thought.Read more ›
This western was overshadowed in the late 1950's by the new "Rebel Without A Cause" youth gendre films.
Now we can recapture this 165 minute WideScreen western epic in the home on this fabulous DVD. Perfect script, magnificent photography, superb musical score, masterful direction of William Wyler & a brilliant ensemble cast providing all the elements for a great story. Lead by Gregory Peck - at his best, Jean Simmons - beautiful & intelligent, Charleton Heston - excellent Peck nemesis, Carrol Baker - rich & spoiled, Burl Ives - strong & rough (Oscar Winner - Best Supporting Actor), Chuck Connors - outstanding villian & Charles Bickford - arrogant & vane.
Summary: An Eastern Sea Captain / Dude (Peck) with a high moral code arrives in "The Big Country" to marry spoiled rich girl (Baker). Immediately he discovers he is in the middle of a range & water rights war against two feuding families, the Terrills (Bickford, Baker & hired foreman Heston) vs the Hannasseys (Ives & Connors). A local school teacher (Simmons) holds the deed & control of the water rights in "The Big Country". Who will get control of the water & will Peck be able to maintain his high morale ethical code? We journey throughout this epic western captured in the plot complexity & magnificent scenes discovering these answers & lots more.
A great family film. This is when Hollywood provided us with all the key ingredients for a great story, including the classical happy ending. An epic western you'll enjoy over & over. This DVD has an excellent transfer of sight & sound. The only extra is a trailer. Enjoy.
Eastern ship captain James McKay (Peck) arrives in a GIANT-like Western town to marry Patricia Terrill (Carroll Baker), whose father (Bickford) is a major landowner in the area. He immediately draws the ire of top hand Steve Leech (Heston) when he refuses to discard an Eastern-style hat (Leech obviously is Patricia's jilted lover, as well, setting the stage for an eventual physical confrontation between the two men). Patricia is beautiful, but shallow and temperamental, unlike her more mature, sensitive friend, schoolteacher Julie Maragon (Jean Simmons), and one wonders what McKay saw in her to make him propose!
En route to the Terrill ranch, McKay and Patricia are intercepted by a wild, acrobatic gang of cowboys, led by Buck Hannassey (Connors), son of the Terrill's mortal enemy and biggest rival, Rufus Hannassey (Ives). After a long chase/trick riding demonstration (punctuated by one of the film's many great musical themes, by composer Jerome Moross), Patricia's venomous reaction to Buck's escapades leads to McKay's being manhandled, roped, and roughed up, a bit. While McKay is forgiving, Col. Terrill (Bickford) uses the incident to invade the Hannassey ranch in force, and then ride into town, pistol-whipping Hannassey men (Buck hides to protect himself).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This movie is one of the greatest. Peck at his best. Great story, killer cast, this movie has it all. Read morePublished 4 hours ago by Taheetna
Good movie for it's era. But of course, I'd pay to watch Gregory Peck chew gum for 2 hours.Published 8 days ago by Paula Fontes
For a full description of the plot, etc., read other reviews. Just some quick thoughts on this western... Read morePublished 12 days ago by Joker
Sea Captain Peck travels with his new fiancé to the West and receives all sorts of advice, from the parochial to the wise and useful. Read morePublished 16 days ago by Amazon Customer WDaley
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