Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
USA, 1958. Anthony Productions, Worldwide Productions. Screenplay by James R. Webb, Sy Bartlett, Robert Wilder, adaptation by Jessamyn West, Robert Wyler, based on the novel by Donald Hamilton. Cinematography by Franz Planer. Produced by Gregory Peck, William Wyler. Music by Jerome Moross. Production Design by Frank Hotaling. Costume Design by Emile Santiago, Yvonne Wood. Film Editing by Robert Belcher, John Faure. Academy Awards 1958. Golden Globe Awards 1958.
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 Chuck Connors as his rascal of a son.