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||IMDB Rating: 7.9/10 from 10,676 votes
||Release: 27 March 1959 (Netherlands) /
||Genre: Drama, Romance, Western
||Director: William Wyler,
||Stars: Alfonso Bedoya, Bob Morgan, Buff Brady, Burl Ives, Carroll Baker, Charles Bickford, Charlton Heston, Chuck Connors, Chuck Hayward, Chuck Roberson, Dorothy Adams, Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons, Jim Burk, John McKee
||Synopsis: Retired, wealthy sea Captain Jame McKay arrives in the vast expanse of the West to marry fiancée Pat Terrill. McKay is a man whose values and approach to life are a mystery to the ranchers and ranch foreman Steve Leech takes an immediate dislike to him. Pat is spoiled, selfish and controlled by her wealthy father, Major Henry Terrill. The Major is involved in a ruthless civil war, over watering rights for cattle, with a rough hewn clan led by Rufus Hannassey. The land in question is owned by Julie Maragon and both Terrill and Hannassey want it. Written by E.W. DesMarais <[email protected]>
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The Big Country is one big and fun western with concurrent plot lines.
The first is the struggle between two implacable enemies, Charles
Bickford and Burl Ives. The second is a four sided romantic triangle
involving Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons, Charlton Heston, and Carroll
Baker with Chuck Connors trying to horn in.
William Wyler directed the almost three hour western with a sure hand
and your interest does not wane for one minute in this film. Gregory
Peck also was a co-producer on this film as well as the first billed.
He had a hand in casting a lot of the film, specifically Burl Ives in
his Academy Award winning performance as Rufus Hannessy.
It's the Terrills versus the Hannessys. Charles Bickford is the local
Ponderosa owner Major Terrill. Presumably the title comes from the
Civil War. Bickford does play Terrill with a military bearing. My guess
is that he was a Yankee soldier.
The Hannessys would now be called white trash. They look like hillbilly
folk who also came west for fame and fortune. They've also got a big
spread in a place called Blanco Canyon. They hate the Yankee Major as
much as he hates them.
Sitting between them is Jean Simmons who has inherited a modest piece
of land that sits across a river that both outfits water their cattle
on as per an agreement with her late grandfather. She doesn't work the
land herself any more, she teaches school in town.
Simmons tries to keep above the feud. She is friends with Carroll
Baker, Charles Bickford's daughter. She's been east and is bringing
home a prospective bridegroom who is a former sea captain played by
Gregory Peck. That doesn't sit well with Charlton Heston who is the
Terrill foreman. He's got eyes on Baker himself and Chuck Connors who
is Burl Ives eldest son has eyes for Simmons when he's not in the local
A lot of started and broken relationships and a few of the cast members
being killed occurs in The Big Country. My favorite scene and line in
the film is when Burl Ives gives some advice to Chuck Connors on how to
woo and win Jean Simmons. His big advice is to show her how much you
care by taking a bath occasionally.
Charlton Heston took a role that was fourth billed because he wanted
the opportunity to work with William Wyler. That was one great career
move because Wyler and he hit it off so well that Wyler signed him for
the lead in his next film which turned out to be Ben-Hur. Heston in his
memoirs, conservative as he became, says he also got along very well
with Gregory Peck who he called a "thinking man's liberal."
Peck and Wyler had worked together previously on Roman Holiday and had
done good work there and also hit it off. However with Peck as a
co-producer as well as star they had some clashes on the set. One
notable one involved Peck wanting to retake the carriage scene where
the Hannessy brothers attack Peck and Baker on the way to the Bickford
ranch. Peck wasn't satisfied and wanted a retake. Wyler who was
legendary for doing scenes dozens of times until he got what he wanted
refused. Later when shown the finished film, Wyler had edited out and
around what Peck didn't like and it came out OK. They remained friends,
but never worked together again.
Simmons as the independent minded school teacher and Baker as the
spoiled daddy's little girl acquit themselves well in their roles.
Baker is disappointed in Peck not seeing him as her ideal western man
and Simmons upbraids her with the quote I put in the review title.
This is also the final film of Alfonso Bedoya who never did get a role
in an American film as good as the one he had as Gold Hat in The
Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Still this is a fine farewell performance
to a very colorful and talented player.
When he's on the screen Burl Ives dominates and fills it and not just
physically either. Rufus Hannessy may not be to the manor born, but he
has his own sense of integrity and fair play. All that Burl Ives
captured in Rufus and The Big Country is worth watching just for him
And that Jerome Moross score; simply one of the best ever done in the
history of film.
Tags for The Big Country Full Movie
, Bob Morgan
, Buff Brady
, Burl Ives
, Carroll Baker
, Charles Bickford
, Charlton Heston
, Chuck Connors
, Chuck Hayward
, Chuck Roberson
, Dorothy Adams
, Gregory Peck
, Jean Simmons
, Jim Burk
, John McKee
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