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William 'Stage' Boyd
Retired, wealthy sea Captain Jame McKay arrives in the vast expanse of the West to marry fiancée Pat Terrill. McKay is a man whose values and approach to life are a mystery to the ranchers and ranch foreman Steve Leech takes an immediate dislike to him. Pat is spoiled, selfish and controlled by her wealthy father, Major Henry Terrill. The Major is involved in a ruthless civil war, over watering rights for cattle, with a rough hewn clan led by Rufus Hannassey. The land in question is owned by Julie Maragon and both Terrill and Hannassey want it. Written by
E.W. DesMarais <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"The Big Country" is a rousing great western with a fabulous all-star cast. As always, Gregory Peck shines in still another film attesting to his social conscientiousness depicted on the screen during his long career.
Carol Baker brings her usual sexy ways as the woman who meets Peck in the east and has him come home to the west to wed. It soon appears that Peck was not meant to be a westerner. Naturally, he meets ranch foreman Charlton Heston, a macho guy who is jealous of Baker's love for James (Peck). Still another fine performance by Charles Bickford as her crusty father, who appears to be a fine gentleman but in reality is a bitter person locked in a dispute with a lower class Burl Ives. It is Ives who steals the film in his portrayal. He was awarded the Oscar for best supporting actor and it was well deserved. Jean Simmons is the western school marm, yet we never see her in a classroom setting.
Seems that Peck has walked into the beginning of a range war between Bickford and Ives over water rights for cattle.
Chuck Connors, who plays Ives' son, sets things in motion by assaulting Peck. Bickford uses this as a pretext to declare "war" on the Hennessey's (Ives and his sons.) Things really start to escalate. In the meantime, Peck does prove his masculinity but it is too late for Baker, who has come to believe that he is a coward.
The final showdown is obvious but handled very well.
Another great asset to the film is the rousing musical score. Its upbeat tempo tells you that you're in for a grand western. It is a big country and wonderful one at that.
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