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Duel in the Sun
IMDB Rating: 6.9/10 from 6,054 votes
Release: 12 September 1947 (Mexico) /

Duel in the Sun

Genre: Drama, Romance, Western
Director: King Vidor,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: When her father is hanged for shooting his wife and her lover, half-breed Pearl Chavez goes to live with distant relatives in Texas. Welcomed by Laura Belle and her elder lawyer son Jesse, she meets with hostility from the ranch-owner himself, wheelchair-bound Senator Jackson McCanles, and with lustful interest from womanising, unruly younger son Lewt. Almost at once, already existing family tensions are exacerbated by her presence and the way she is physically drawn to Lewt. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

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Critic Reviews


King Vidor was a long-serving and much-respected Hollywood grandmaster who took a serious interest in movie-making… "Billy the Kid" and "Duel in the Sun" hold an important place in the history of the genre… These two films in particular, along with "Northwest Passage," show Vidor's romantic vision of backwoods America and his love of natural landscape; they share, too, an earthy quality which is missing from his more routine action Westerns, "The Texas Rangers" and "Man Without a Star."

Photographed in rich color, the visual magnificence of the film was manifested in the shots of the cowboys galloping across the rolling hills; in the spectacular confrontation between the McCanles forces who aimed to defend Spanish Bit with lead and the U.S. Cavalry; in the deep red sunset sequence with Lionel Barymore as "the lonely Senator"; and in that long shot of the surreptitious meeting between Lewt and his father on the hilltop at sunset…

"Duel in the Sun" is extravagantly and grandiosely passionate and romantic and its characters are much larger than life… A poignant scene was the tremendous moment between two legendary actors (Lionel Barrymore & Lillian Gish) when Laura Belle said to her husband "I'm a nuisance to you even to the end. It's the first time you've been in this room since that night./I loved you, Laura Belle. Yes, sir, I loved you."

Now, when a single movie offers murder, rape, attempted fratricide, train wreck, fiery sensual dance, drunkenness, religion, range wars, prostitution, sacred and profane love and sex as the principal motivation and not as an incidental subplot, and all that against an epic background of empire-building, well, it is for the first time in a Western in such a big scale…

The film featured the story of Pearl Chavez whose past is dark as her coca-stained skin and who loves everybody but loves bad Lewt most often…

Gregory Peck character as Lewt is barbaric, undisciplined, untamed, overwhelming… He is a bad man, all bad, but he is also the lowest, dirtiest, meanest and cool, and he knows how to laugh and have a good time…

Jennifer Jones as Pearl, is the 'prettiest girl ever to set foot on Spanish Bit.' She is a marvelous overwrought minx, wild and sexy…

Joseph Cotton is the calm, educated, refined, pleasant son Jesse who ultimately sides with the railroad against his father…He even threatens to cut the fence wire promising: "I'd rather be on the side of the victims than of the murderers."

Lionel Barrymore is the invalid Senator Jackson McCanles who orders his son, calling him a "Judas," to leave his ranch for as long as he lives…

Lillian Gish is the delicate Laura Belle who blames her husband of spoiling Lewt and she let him do so ever since he was a child making him think that rules weren't made for him…

Herbert Marshall plays Scott Chavez the condemned Southern aristocrat gentleman who sends his daughter to Laura Belle, his second cousin…

Charles Bickford plays Sam Pierce, the boss who gets a little ranch of his own but never run across anybody he wanted to marry… Besides, he never got up nerve enough to ask anybody…

Impassions, pulsating, barbaric, and thunderous, the music matches perfectly the fervid emotionalism of the story…

The film received only two Academy Awards nominations…

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