A huge, sprawling western with just about everything: brilliant photography, superb music, an intelligent script, and excellent performances, including one from Heston that is one of the best of his career. Wyler was so taken by Heston that he starred him in his next film, BEN HUR, and
Heston walked away with an Oscar. THE BIG COUNTRY didn't do as well in the Academy Awards as many expected. Ives took the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and Moross secured a nomination for the music. Peck, an ex-captain on a ship, has come West to marry Baker and live on the ranch of her father
(Bickford). He meets and instantly dislikes Heston, who is the foreman of the ranch. Bickford and Ives are feuding and have been forever. The hatred even extends to Baker. Seeing this side of her, Peck and she soon grow apart and he falls for Simmons, local schoolmarm, who owns the only water for
miles around. Simmons has resisted being bought out by both sides and is eventually kidnaped by the Ives bunch. Peck trails them, meets and gains the respect of Ives, who then has a face-to-face confrontation with Bickford. The two old coots shoot and kill each other, Peck and Simmons move to her
ranch, and Heston and Baker take over the big spread.
If you like westerns you'll love THE BIG COUNTRY. If you hate westerns, you'll still enjoy this picture because the story could have taken place in a board room, at sea, or anywhere else strong personalities clash. It's too long, true. Sharper editing was needed and some more attention paid to a
few of the supporting roles; Connors overdoes it as Ives' lout son, Buck, who attempts to rape Simmons.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: A huge, sprawling western with just about everything: brilliant photography, superb music, an intelligent script, and excellent performances, including one from Heston that is one of the best of his career. Wyler was so taken by Heston that he starred him… (more)