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The Big Sky
IMDB Rating: 7.1/10 from 2,752 votes
Release: 19 August 1952 (USA) /

The Big Sky

Genre: Drama, Western
Director: Howard Hawks,
Stars: , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: Jim Deakins is a frontiersman and Indian trader who is making a perilous journey with a group of other men up the Missouri River to get a large haul of furs from friendly Blackfoot Indians. The problem is that they have to get through hostile Indian territory first and they find that they have seriously underestimated the difficulties they will undergo. The large body of men who started the journey are gradually whittled down until only a hardy few, like Deakins, are left. Written by Alfred Jingle

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Critic Reviews


Everything in "The big sky" has the brand of greatness: story, direction, acting, script, photography, locations. Yet there's something more. Along the film, director Howard Hawks keeps touching profound strings of our souls. Indeed, we grown-up viewers are, more or less consciously, brought back to the dreams of our prime, which is always a source of sweet, though melancholic, bliss. Every young boy has dreamed a totally free life like that of the guys on the screen. Action and adventure, merged into a wild, glorious, almost impossibly beautiful nature. Having fun with our mates, and, when necessary, fighting against the bad ones. Contacting the cultures of far-away, fascinating populations. And, as the main benefit, loving a gorgeous Indian girl.

Follows an incomplete exposition of the other merits of "The big sky". The film is brilliantly made and interpreted. The actors are all outstanding. Arthur Hunnicutt dominates. Kirk Douglas' natural dynamic way is perfect for his role. Dewey Martin is excellent, as well. Special mentions to Elizabeth Threatt as Teal Eye and to Hank Worden as the funny but smart Poordevil. The black and white photography is magnificent. Indeed, only black and white seems capable to render the incredible bright of Threatt's eyes. And it fully respects and gives depth to the beauty of nature.

As usual in Howard Hawks' works, the movie is based on swift-pace-action amalgamated with the human interaction of the characters. Here we have a world with no established laws, out of those of nature. People survive if they recognize who is a friend and who is an enemy, independently on being white or native. The mixture of languages, English, French, Native, and related, often funny, translations, is a fine device to give realism to the script. The love story develops at the rhythm of nature, similarly to the endless journey of the keel-boat, and it's even touching at the ending. We also see that irrational hate is not just criminal nonsense, it's even ridiculous.

It seems that "The big sky" was considerably cut by the studios. In fact, some magnificent choral scenes appears to be too short. One instance for all: the paramount scene of the Blackfeet hauling the keel-boat on the river lasts just few seconds. To cut the film was certainly a very bad idea. Fortunately, "The big sky" remains a masterpiece, worth of Hawks' immense talent and genius. Well, it's enough clear that I like this movie. Indeed, I strongly believe that Howard Hawks was born to give us joy. "The big sky" is a major evidence in favor of my opinion.

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