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It's a Big Country: An American Anthology (1951)

Approved | | Comedy, Drama | 20 November 1951 (USA)
The story, told in eight episodes, covers different facets of the American Spirit, from racial and religious tolerance to the dangers of self-centeredness and myopic reasoning. The parables... See full summary »

Writers:

Dore Schary (story for picture), William Ludwig (screenplay: episode one) | 11 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ethel Barrymore ... Mrs. Brian Patrick Riordan
Keefe Brasselle ... Sgt. Maxie Klein
Gary Cooper ... Texas
Nancy Reagan ... Miss Coleman (as Nancy Davis)
Van Johnson ... Rev. Adam Burch
Gene Kelly ... Icarus Xenophon
Janet Leigh ... Rosa Szabo
Marjorie Main ... Mrs. Wrenley
Fredric March ... Joe Esposito
George Murphy ... Mr. Callaghan
William Powell ... Professor
S.Z. Sakall ... Stefan Szabo
Lewis Stone ... Church Sexton
James Whitmore ... Mr. Stacey
Keenan Wynn ... Michael Fisher
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Storyline

The story, told in eight episodes, covers different facets of the American Spirit, from racial and religious tolerance to the dangers of self-centeredness and myopic reasoning. The parables represent a broad cross-section of the American experience: the elderly woman whose pride is injured when she's forgotten in the latest census; the novice minister more pleased with the sound of his own voice than with the needs of his congregation; the mother who confronts the illogic of racial intolerance when she meets the best friend of the son she lost to war; and the enigma that is Texas. Episode titles are: 1) Interruptions, Interruptions; 2) Census Taker; 3) Negro Story; 4) Rosika, the Rose; 5) Letter from Korea; 6) Lone Star; (7) Minister in Washington; 8) Four Eyes; a further episode, titled Load, directed by Anthony Mann, with 'Jean Hersholt' (q.v.) and 'Ann Harding' (q.v.), was filmed but deleted. Written by Chris Stone <jstone@bellatlantic.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

YOU'RE in this picture with the girl you love - and the kids on the street corner - and the guy next door! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Hungarian | Italian

Release Date:

20 November 1951 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

It's a Big Country See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,013,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film did poorly at the box office, resulting in a loss for MGM of $677,000 ($6.3M in 2016) according to studio records. See more »

Goofs

When the census taker asks Ethel Barrymore her name, she replies "Mrs. Brian Patrick Riordan" and he writes it down. Always with censuses, a woman's given name is entered. See more »

Quotes

Rosa Szabo Xenophon: Marry me? You don't know anything about me.
Icarus Xenophon: You're a girl. You're pretty and you're modest. What else is there to know?
See more »

Connections

References On the Town (1949) See more »

Soundtracks

God Bless America
(uncredited)
Written by Irving Berlin
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The U.S.A. of the Cold War
29 December 2006 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

I doubt if a film like It's A Big Country could be made in and about the America of post Vietnam and Watergate. A whole lot of the clichés presented here just aren't bought any more by large segments of the population. For whatever it's worth the film is a presentation of what we thought about ourselves in 1951.

It's a film with several different segments, some serious some pretty funny about every day Americans in all walks of life, in all parts of the then 48 states.

The two I liked best were those that ironically starred the two men who were not MGM contract players, Gary Cooper and Fredric March. Gary Cooper plays a Texas cowboy talking about his state and disillusioning us with a tongue in cheek delivery about the way Texans and Texas are perceived by the other 47 states. Of course Cooper's humor and the whole premise behind this segment was that Texas was our largest state in land mass. That ended in 1959 when Alaska became the 49th state, still it's the highlight of It's A Big Country.

Fredric March plays an Italian American father who's opposed to his son, Bobby Hyatt, getting needed glasses even after teacher Nancy Davis tells him it's necessary. He's got some old world ideas that need a bit of adjustment. March plays the role with dignity never do you feel he's a caricature.

Another episode that is nicely done involves Gene Kelly, Greek American boy falling for Janet Leigh, Hungarian American girl. They've got a problem though, her father played by Hollywood's number one Hungarian S.Z. Sakall. In the past 20 years we've seen a whole lot of stories about ancient ethnic hatreds coming out of Eastern Europe. Sakall is carrying some old grudges against Greeks though he really isn't sure why. Point being that here in America you're supposed to leave that all behind. That segment is still very much relevant.

Could we make It's A Big Country today? Not at this time, maybe at some future point when we've reached a national consensus that despite all our problems, America's a pretty good place after all.


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