This western begins with St. Louis resident Lutie Cameron (Katharine Hepburn) marrying New Mexico cattleman Col. James B. 'Jim' Brewton (Spencer Tracy) after a short courtship. When she arrives in "Salt Fork, NM" she finds that her new husband is considered by the locals to be a tyrant who uses force to keep homesteaders off the government owned land he uses for grazing his cattle--the so-called Sea of Grass. Lutie, has difficulty reconciling her husband's beliefs and passions with her own.Written by
Director Elia Kazan was initially excited by the prospect of filming on location in the Great Plains, but to save money the producers decided that most of the film would be shot in the studio using rear-screen projections and MGM's vast stock of process footage. See more »
When Col. Brewton returns home from his trip after the blizzard died down, he is wearing a winter coat which is fully buttoned up right before he enters the house. But when he enters the house and greeted by Lutie the top coat button is now unbuttoned. See more »
Card at beginning: This story takes place for the most part against the background of the sea of grass - that vast grazing empire which once covered the western part of north America from the great plains to the rocky mountains, and beyond. See more »
Did anyone notice the similarities between this and McLintock?
Considering that Sea of Grass is helmed by a director who's not familiar with the western milieu it's amazing that it comes off as well as it does. Elia Kazan is so much better in an urban setting like On the Waterfront. Yet Tracy and Hepburn do make this work on some levels.
John Wayne in McLintock and Spencer Tracy in Sea of Grass have the same view of the prarie. Both films take the side of the cattle rancher as opposed to the farmer. Certainly other films like Shane make the farmer the good guy. But events here show that Tracy was right about the prarie as his arch rival in politics and love, Melvyn Douglas, ruefully points out.
Tracy and Wayne also have spousal problems, although certainly Wayne handles his with a tad more humor. One thing that Maureen O'Hara does and Katharine Hepburn doesn't is share his vision of the prarie. She befriends the farmer family nearby and that is what causes the rift between her and Tracy.
McLintock is a comedy and Sea of Grass is a western soap opera. Kazan was lucky in casting folks like Edgar Buchanan and Harry Carey who knew their way around a western. Robert Walker was taking some tentative steps toward a similar role in Vengeance Valley. He only appears in the last half hour of the film as the kid with dubious paternity, but you will remember him.
Katharine Hepburn would have to wait another 28 years before doing another traditional western in Rooster Cogburn. Eula Goodnight is certainly light years from Lutie Cameron. Colonel Jim Brewton though is the same type cattle baron as G.W. McLintock.
I think the film is more for fans of soap opera than for fans of westerns. And certainly it's for fans of Spence and Kate.
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