Monday, January 24, 2011

Movie of the Week - The Big Country

This week’s movie is The Big Country (1958).

The western is about a New England ship captain who arrives in the old west to marry his beloved who met him while visiting the east coast. Once there, he becomes wrapped up in a feud between two old families over a patch of valuable land. Directed by one of the best, William Wyler, this is a wonderful classic western. Wyler is certainly one of the great auteur directors, along with the likes of David Lean and Alfred Hitchcock. The film features a good score from composer Jerome Moross, great cinematography from legendary D.P. Franz Planer (also shot Wyler’s Roman Holiday) and very good art direction from Frank Hotaling, who did some of the best work on westerns of the period. It has a fantastic cast starring Gregory Peck (playing a stoic honorable man, a lot like Atticus Finch, only he made this first) with Jean Simmons, Carroll Baker, Charlton Heston, Burl Ives, and Charles Bickford in supporting roles. What makes the film great is the character that Peck plays: James McKay. He is completely honorable and seemingly infallible. All his scenes are fantastic, but I love his square-off with Heston’s Steve Leech. This is an absolute must see for western fans, as it has great scenes, characters and dialog. The story is a parable, in a sense, warning off hatred and ill-will. Check out the trailer.

Available on DVD and to Rent

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