The Big Country (1958)

WILLIAM WYLER

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.5

USA, 1958.  , .  Screenplay by , , , adaptation by , , based on the novel by . Cinematography by .  Produced by , William Wyler.  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by , .  Film Editing by , .  

Exciting western that treads on a pacifist theme. Gregory Peck plays an eastern sailor who comes to the wide, wild west to marry Carroll Baker.  When he gets there he finds himself in the middle of an ages-old feud between Baker’s father (Charles Bickford) and the head of a vicious, trashy family of criminals (Burl Ives) who are fighting over a piece of land owned by Jean Simmons.   Simmons’ property includes a river where cattle go to get water, and the owning of this property, which these men don’t feel should stay in the hands of a spinster schoolteacher, predicts the success of whichever rancher will outdo the other.  Over the period of the film’s three hours, Peck’s decision to remain neutral despite incendiary behaviour from both sides, not to mention his duty to his fiancee and his growing affection for Simmons, will see him endure some pretty scary circumstances. With gorgeous photography that utilizes the expansive scenery to its full potential, the film features whipcrack direction by William Wyler and terrific performances, especially a masterful Ives and as his rascal of a son.

Academy Award:  Best Supporting Actor (Burl Ives)
Nominations: Best Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture

Golden Globe Award:  Best Supporting Actor (Burl Ives)

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