7.9/10
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161 user 60 critic

The Big Country (1958)

Passed | | Romance, Western | October 1958 (USA)
A New Englander arrives in the Old West, where he becomes embroiled in a feud between two families over a valuable patch of land.

Director:

William Wyler

Writers:

James R. Webb (screenplay), Sy Bartlett (screenplay) | 4 more credits »
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From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

ON DISC
Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Gregory Peck ... James McKay
Jean Simmons ... Julie Maragon
Carroll Baker ... Patricia Terrill
Charlton Heston ... Steve Leech
Burl Ives ... Rufus Hannassey
Charles Bickford ... Maj. Henry Terrill
Alfonso Bedoya ... Ramón Gutierrez
Chuck Connors ... Buck Hannassey
Chuck Hayward ... Rafe Hannassey
Buff Brady Buff Brady ... Dude Hannassey
Jim Burk Jim Burk ... Blackie / Cracker Hannassey
Dorothy Adams ... Hannassey Woman
Chuck Roberson ... Terrill Cowboy
Bob Morgan Bob Morgan ... Terrill Cowboy
John McKee John McKee ... Terrill Cowboy
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Storyline

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 land 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 <jlongst@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Big they fought! Big they loved! Big their story!

Genres:

Romance | Western

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

October 1958 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Horizontes de grandeza See more »

Filming Locations:

Ione, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Gregory Peck was considered too old to play James McKay. See more »

Goofs

Just before the duel between McKay and Buck Hannassy, Leech says to the Major that they haven't heard a single shot. Yet Rufus Hannassy shot at Buck to prevent him shooting an unarmed man not five minutes earlier. See more »

Quotes

James McKay: Tell me Leech, what did we prove?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Shanghai Noon (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

Big entertainment, bigger music.
4 February 2002 | by Poseidon-3See all my reviews

As several characters state in the film, "This is a big country" and THIS is a BIG MOVIE. It screams out for widescreen viewing. Many of the characters are largely and broadly drawn with big strokes (stubborn Peck, fiery Baker, resentful Heston, righteous Simmons, imperious Bickford, cantankerous Ives and slithering Connors) yet they all are dwarfed by the huge landscape. Tall men, horses, trees and houses are all presented as so many ants on an ant hill in many of the images. The film has a compelling story and intriguing interpersonal relationships and rivalries which are all enhanced by this larger than life approach. The landscape is sometimes awe-inspiring, notably in the Blanco Canyon scenes near the end of the film. Peck is appropriately straight-laced and uncomfortable in this rough & tumble setting, lovely Simmons is a likable heroine and Baker is an effective daddy's girl with misplaced affections. Connors acquits himself very nicely as a thoroughly detestable punk. Heston comes off extremely strong in this film. He's completely at home and was probably never more handsome (check out the scene in which he's roused from his bed by Peck!) He makes the most out of this secondary role. Bickford and Oscar-winning Ives make a great pair of adversaries...almost makes one wish for a prequel to see what got these two so riled up (but today's filmmakers couldn't be counted upon to do it in a tasteful, classy way.) Memorable scenes include the taunting of Peck by Connors and his brothers, Ives grand entrance into Bickford's house and an almost legendary fight scene between Heston and Peck. All of the above are raised to an even higher plane of excellence by what must be one of the greatest musical scores in film history (western or otherwise.) Jerome Moross composed several themes (the opening title is the best known) which put this film into a whole new category of enjoyment. The score stands alone as a beautiful listening experience and paired with the images in this film, it is amazing. It occasionally seems intrusive, yet knows when to keep quiet as well. The Oscar that year went to Tiompkin's "Old Man and the Sea", but it seems astonishing that anything could have bested this score. The film's only real flaw is slight overlength, but nothing really stands out as aching to be cut! Maybe just bits and pieces....but, really, the story just takes it's time and builds to some stirring moments.


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