Journalist Steve O'Malley wants to write a biography of a national hero who died when his car ran off a bridge. Steve receives conflicting reports and tales that make him question what the truth about the hero is.
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
This film was very successful at the box office, earning MGM a profit of $742,000 ($8.1M in 2017) according to studio records. This was the most profitable of all the Spencer Tracy-Katharine Hepburn MGM films. 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 »
In Michel Ciment's book " Kazan par Kazan" which is actually a very long interview (à la "Hitchcock by Truffaut"),the director recalled how painful the filming of "sea of grass " was for him:first of all,he complained for a subject like that SHOULD have been filmed on location and we can find little fault with his opinion;besides ,he had to use the Tracy /Hepburn pairing,two actors he admired but who were miscast here;"Tracy did not like horses and horses did not like Tracy either" .His wife should have been a frail young girl,which Hepburn was not :"she was clever but she was part of the high society.." The one thing Kazan seemed to appreciate was her crying;but reportedly Louis B Mayer watching the rushes complained: her tears does not flow from her eyes ,but from her nose;it looks like snot!" Among all my movies this is the one I like the least" he concludes.
With hindsight,the film retains qualities and I do not think anyway that it is worse than the disastrous "last tycoon" which IMHO,is Kazan's absolute nadir.Hindsight displays its charms.Considering the limitations Kazan was working under,it's a wonder that the scene where Hepburn and Tracy are in front of the "sea of grass" listening to the noise and to the silence (of the Buffalos -now they are gone- and of the Indians -now in the reservations-) is really poetic.We can also save the scene of the storm ,where the farmer (David) has to fight his wealthy neighbor (Goliath).The historical context ,the end of the prairie of grass and the coming of the farmers ,is interesting.
Robert Walker's character ,an unstable boy ,predates James Dean in "East of Eden" by eight years:too bad the part is underwritten.The fact that he was born of adultery is almost passed over in silence ,except for one scene or two.
It is not my Kazan's favorite or even among my favorites,but it's a film to watch if ,like me,you are interested in the director's oeuvre..
Like this? try this......
"Giant" Georges Stevens 1955
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