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21 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

An undistinguished star Western!

7/10
Author: Righty-Sock (robertfrangie@hotmail.com) from Mexico
1 July 2001

Director Gordon Douglas, one of Warners' more versatile directors, teamed previously Ladd on 'The Iron Mistress', 'McConnell Story' and 'Santiago'...

Alan Ladd has the familiar assignment of a man of action who has seen enough of killing in the late war... He brings it off in his smoothest style...

Here, he is a six-shooter with no alternative, in a tale about cattlemen and wheat growers, who join forces in building a railroad near their land in an attempt to crush the activities of ruthless cattle-buyers... Ladd is forced to take action against Anthony Caruso and his henchman before settling down to marry the lovely Mayo and rebuild the new town...

Virginia Mayo gives the film its few moments of sensitivity in the scene where she takes out on Ladd her grief over her brother's execution...

Edmond O'Brien is cast as an educated man turned alcoholic... He is a wanderer disgusted by his cowardice, and gunned down when he makes a hopeless attempt to stand up to a heavy, bad man...

Despite a few pretentious moments, 'The Big Land' is, on the whole, an undistinguished star Western..

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10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Why,........."Cause the East Needs Beef."

5/10
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
25 November 2006

The Big Land is a western that has Alan Ladd as a war weary Civil War veteran who wants to go into the cattle business. He's had enough of killing over five years, but in the end Ladd has to let his skill with a gun settle the usual problems of the frontier.

Anthony Caruso, a good friend of Ladd's in real life, has control of the rail shipping head where the Texas cattle arrive to be sent to the slaughterhouses in the east and he's not letting go. Of course the thing to do would be to just have it out right then and there with Caruso. But Ladd's had enough of killing from the Civil War and besides there would be no picture.

He persuades a group of settlers to found an incorporate a town where the railroad will eventually be coming to. Designing and planning the town is a dissolute architect played by Edmond O'Brien. O'Brien's got a pretty sister in Virginia Mayo which is another reason Ladd stays interested and around.

The thing I most remember about The Big Land is that constant repetition of the phrase, "the east needs beef." It's the reason Ladd, O'Brien, Mayo, are doing all that they are and enduring all the hardships. It's almost like no one will have a protein component in their diet unless Alan Ladd accomplishes what he sets out to do. It seemed to be a bit silly at times.

There's enough action though for any good western fan to overcome a rather trite story. American viewers would soon be seeing all about cattle drives in the western television series Rawhide. And on the silver screen, cattle drives were the background for much better films like John Wayne's Red River.

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Familiar but very well done.

7/10
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
18 June 2009

When Alan Ladd and his partners bring their cattle from Texas to Missouri, local cattle buyer Anthony Caruso cheats the men and treats them like he's doing them a favor in the process! Ladd, however, doesn't fight--having a live and let live attitude.

Ladd travels to a nearby town and is treated pretty poorly by the locals since he's a Southerner and the Civil War just ended. However, he stumbles into a relationship with Edmond O'Brien--an alcoholic who has a long history of screwing up his life. Ladd is able to help this new friend find a sense of direction and clean up his life, as they both hit on a scheme to build a town in Kansas that will make cattle drives closer AND they won't need to deal with Caruso. Of course, Caruso made it a habit of playing evil jerks in Westerns during the 50s, so it's pretty certain that he won't just sit back and watch as this new cattle town is created. And when he does behave in a naughty fashion, guess who's the guy to bring justice to this new town?

The film is helped by two excellent leads--Ladd and O'Brien. While story elements are often quite familiar here (the tough boss, the hero that is slow to act, John Qualen with his Swede routine, etc.), the film is handled well and is enjoyable throughout.

It's interesting that in this film O'Brien plays an alcoholic (a pretty familiar role for him actually, as he played this type character in several films) but in reality Alan Ladd was destroying himself with alcohol. He looks pretty lean in the film, but in subsequent films he became puffy and sometimes slurred his lines. It's really sad to see when you are a fan--fortunately, there isn't much evidence of this decline in THE BIG LAND.

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