The Big Country

One of Hollywood’s greatest directors teams with a cast of incredible screen legends for this bold,sweeping tale of a ship’s captain who ventures west to find a hotbed of jealousy, hatred and dangerous rivalries. As the reluctant hero is thrust into the maelstrom, he must summon all of his resolveto save not only his own life, but also the life of the woman he loves. Four-time Academy AwardÂ(r) winner* William Wyler directs this action-packed adventure that triumphs as “a work of art” (Motion

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2 thoughts on “The Big Country

  1. 53 of 57 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    If you love Westerns, you’ll love this one now on 16:9 DVD!!, March 22, 2002
    By 
    forrie (Nashua, NH United States) –

    This review is from: The Big Country (DVD)
    MGM’s Western Legends Series presents William Wylers (Director of BEN-Hur) 1958 epic western classic “The Big Country”. Now on DVD presented in WideScreen and enhanced for WideScreen HDTV’s (16:9) format. This DVD is beautifully presented with the huge panoramtic display of “The Big Country”.
    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.

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  2. 129 of 135 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Only rarely the t’wain shall meet…., August 1, 2003
    By 
    Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas) –
      

      

      

      

    This review is from: The Big Country (DVD)
    What we have here is a blood feud over water rights between two ranching families headed by Major Henry Terrill (Charles Bickford) and Rufus Hannassey (Burl Ives), with school teacher Julie Maragon (Jean Simmons) caught in the middle. Directed by William Wyler with stunning cinematography by Franz Planer, we follow a narrative which involves the engagement of Easterner James McKay (Gregory Peck) to Terrill’s beloved daughter Pat (Carroll Baker). Frankly, what he sees in her continues to elude my understanding. 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. Before they begin throwing punches, McKay insists that no one know about their fight. Leech totally misunderstands McKay’s reasons. Another memorable sequence of events focuses on Terrill and Hannassey as they slowly and carefully work their way through a canyon to their final confrontation. To repeat, theirs is a zero sum game except that neither wins. In these and other scenes, Planer’s cinematography and Jerome Moross’ music score blend effectively with the cast’s superb performances under Wyler’s direction.
    Why has The Big Country been under appreciated, if not totally ignored among western films? I have no idea. I really don’t.

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