5.0 out of 5 stars Epic, Sprawling Horse Opera (Roadshow Edition Review)
Sweeping! Magnificent! Corny! Romantic! A west that never existed is splashed across the screen as only David O. Selznick, the master of such gargantuan Hollywood classics as "Gone With the Wind", "Since You Went Away" and "Rebecca" could give us.
This is not the revisionists west of the 1990's, nor that West of the gritty operatic glamour of Sergio Leone's "Once...
Published on July 8 2004 by Michael C. Smith
3.0 out of 5 stars POINTLESS REISSUE OF ALREADY AVAILABLE DVD
Producer David O. Selznick never thought small. Dreaming of a magnum opus on the same grand scale as "Gone with the Wind" and, perhaps a little bit self-conscious of the fact that his recent affair with Jennifer Jones had yielded only one stellar performance from the starlet - and not even in a film he had produced - Selznick's driving ambition to make Jones a star on par...
Published on May 25 2004 by Nix Pix
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3.0 out of 5 stars POINTLESS REISSUE OF ALREADY AVAILABLE DVD,
"Duel In The Sun" had previously been made available from Anchor Bay in a stunning road show edition. MGM's reissue is the truncated theatrical version - also made previously available through Anchor Bay. On all three DVD incarnations, colors are well balanced, though on this new version they seem a tad more dated from the rich and vibrant colors on the Anchor Bay version. Black levels are good but fine detail is lost in many darkly lit scenes. There's also more noticeable film grain on this version than the Anchor Bay edition. The audio is remixed to stereo but only marginally appealing, sounding rather forced and re-channeled. There are NO extras.
There's nothing to stand up and cheer about here. If you are a die hard fan of this film, or westerns, then you will definitely want to look up the out of print copy from Anchor Bay, rather than this reissue. Aside from being longer, the Anchor Bay version also tends to be a better visual presentation overall.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars LAUGHABLE YET CURIOUSLY ENJOYABLE...,
The storyline is simple. A Spanish Grandee, Scott Chavez (Herbert Marshall), married the wrong woman, a wild and passionate Indian, instead of his true love, Laura Belle. Together they have a child whom they named Pearl. Known as a half breed, Pearl Chavez (Jennifer Jones), wants to be a lady, a "good girl". Given who her mother was, however, no one wants to give her a chance to prove herself. When her father knows he is to die, he packs her off to his first love, Laura Belle (Lillian Gish), who lives in Texas and is married to Senator McCanles (Lionel Barrymore). They have two sons, Jesse (Joseph Cotten) and Lewt (Gregory Peck). Jesse is the good son and his mother's favorite, while Lewt is a spoiled rake and his father's favorite.
When Pearl arrives at the McCanles ranch, Lillian greets her warmly, as does Jesse. Senator McCanles, her overbearing husband, however, treats Pearl to some racist, politically incorrect invective, while Lewt eyes her lasciviously. Needless to say, a love triangle of sorts develops. Ultimately, both sons want her, but they both can't have her. Jesse treats Pearl like a lady, while Lewt treats her like a wanton. When a breach with his father arises, Jesse leaves the ranch, leaving Pearl to the mercy of Lewt who will stop at nothing, not even murder, to ensure his claim over Pearl. In the end, Lewt appears to be the one to get Pearl, but what he gets may be more than that for which bargained. Moreover, Pearl may also be prone to self-sacrifice.
Herbert Marshall, as the Spanish Grandee with regrets, gives an effective performance, although he is somewhat miscast. Lillian Gish gives an excellent portrayal of the put upon Laura Belle, though her death scene is so melodramatic that it is hard to keep a straight face. Lionel Barrymore is also excellent, though a little over the top in his performance. I have to say, I loved Gregory Peck as the bad guy. He gives a truly terrific performance. The viewer gets a sense that Peck really seemed to be enjoying himself. Joseph Cotten oozes integrity in the role of the saintly Jesse. Butterfly McQueen, as Vashti the maid, is, well, Butterfly McQueen, with her distinctive, high pitched voice, holding sway over the viewer. Charles Bickford, as the ranch straw boss, Sam Pierce, gives a restrained and moving performance as the man who truly loves and wants to marry Pearl, a desire that Lewt will do everything to thwart.
Jennifer Jones, quite frankly, is utterly laughable as Pearl. If she had not been the producer's main squeeze at the time, I doubt that she would ever have been cast for the part of Pearl. So over the top is her performance, so filled with pouty grimaces, histrionics, and sultry poses, that her portrayal of Pearl rises to the level of high camp. The scene where she grabs Lewt's leg in a histrionic fit, declaring her undying love as he walks away, dragging her across the floor, is a bit much. I suspect that the director's handling of Ms. Jones' portrayal of Pearl was the director's way of getting back at the producer. If so, the director succeeded in giving it to the producer in spades.
Notwithstanding this, the film is still a moderately enjoyable western. For those who object to its political incorrectness, remember to keep in mind the social context out of which it arose. The times, they are a changing.
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic, Sprawling Horse Opera (Roadshow Edition Review),
This review is from: Duel in the Sun [Import] (DVD)Sweeping! Magnificent! Corny! Romantic! A west that never existed is splashed across the screen as only David O. Selznick, the master of such gargantuan Hollywood classics as "Gone With the Wind", "Since You Went Away" and "Rebecca" could give us.
This is not the revisionists west of the 1990's, nor that West of the gritty operatic glamour of Sergio Leone's "Once Upon A Time In The West." You will not find the spare clean and lean beauty of John ford's West. What we have here is the epic telling on a screen that screams to be stretched into widescreen and spills out over the audenience the lush and romantic horse Opera of Pearl Chavez, the McCanles clan and the coming of the railroads in the 1880's.
From the moment the overture replete with unneeded narration begins you know you are in for a melodrama of purple emotions and blood red vendettas. The opening scene is set in a saloon on a scale of a modern Vegas casino. There amidst the wild gunfire of overheated cowboys and insanely spinning faro wheels we are introduced to the Scarlett O'Hara of the West, half-breed Pearl Chavez. As played by Jennifer Jones she is just about the hottest tamale to ever hit the pages of a screenplay expressly written to drive men mad, turn brother against brother and defy a "Sinkiller". What Jane Russell was supposed to be in "The Outlaw" we get in Technicolor spades in the form of Miss Jones.
She takes huge hefty bites of the massive sets and chews them to a fare thee well and in the process creates a wanton nymphomaniacal character of such charm, heat and passion that she is truly a motion picture original. This is the best thing Miss Jones ever did because it is so out of control and beyond the pale of her more subdued performances. Of saints, teenage war brides and ghosts of lost love.
As Lewt McCanles we get the hottest, meanest, most excitingly nasty performance Gregory Peck ever was allowed to give. And what an irresistible bad boy he is. He was never sexier or more wonderful than in this departure from the Peck norm.
Even the usually dull Joseph Cotton manages to rise above his typically dry rolls, but not too much, in the thankless roll of the good brother. He seems a little too old for the part and a little too polished. Someone like Charlton Heston might have been more on the spot.
Lillian Gish steals every scene she is in with quite assuredness and only finds completion from the ever-prissy Butterfly McQueen. In her final scene with Lionel Barrymore Miss Gish makes off with the scene so quitly that you are hit with it's impact only after the fact. Barrymore creates one of his most beloved curmudgeons as Senator Jackson McCanles full of sound and furry and ultimately signifying less than nothing. His introduction to Pearl topped by a sneeringly shocking racial slur that encapsulates his character and time and place.
Another highlight is the cameo by Walter Huston as "The Sinkiller". What can be said of him is only this, pure cinematic magic.
The film unfold with such a sense of grandeur and awe that it sweeps you along to its incredible ending on the wings of epic pure camp poetry. The Dimitri Tiomkin score is a masterpiece and much famed over the years for the incredible call of the bells set piece.
The three cinematographers involved, Hal Rosson, Ray Rennahan, and Lee Garmes paint movie memory after memory with the palate of hot dusty hues that have long been forgotten by audiences of today. To see it now is perhaps more exciting and thrilling than it was in 1947.
All of this mad mixture of melodrama, mush and music was orchestrated by the master showman of his time, the ultimate huckster of smoke and mirrors and consummate barometer for just what we wanted in our early epics of the America that never existed, David O. Selznick, who added the "O" to his name just because it looked better on the marquee. When they say that off heard lament "They don't make'um like they used to." Both Mr. Selznick and "Duel In The Sun" are what they are talking about. If they still made them like this then something would be terribly wrong. Thank god they did make films like this once upon a time and we still have them to lose ourselves in a dream of what never was and what will never be again.
1.0 out of 5 stars Dreadful sound transfer,
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't know why this movie has such a bad rap.....,
4.0 out of 5 stars This film has Jennifer Jones....what more can you need?,
The film revolves around Pearl Chavez, a half white/half Amerind girl whose became an orphan when her father was hanged for murder. She was sent to the family of her father's ex-fiancee (Lillian Gish). Unfortunately, the patriach of the family harbors racist attitude toward Pearl ("PEARL??? Why aren't you called POCAHONTAS?!!"). The two son, blond Jesse (Joseph Cotten)the saint and dark haired Lewt (Gregory Peck) the devil both fell for Pearl, and this love triangle eventually leads to the climatic event suggested by the film's title.
As usual, the ever reliable Jennifer Jones demonstrate her talents that other Hollywood actresses can only hope they had. If you are used to seeing Ms. Jones in goody two shoes virginal roles in films such as Song of Bernadette, Since You Went Away, Love Is A Many Splendored Thing, Portrait of Jennie, and even The Towering Inferno, Duel In the Sun shows that she can exude sex as well. Typical of Jennifer's performances, she don't just act with her face, she acted with her entire body as well. She BECOMES the character.
Gregory Peck is also excellent, being a rotten rakish rogue for once rather than the defender of right and virtue we use to get from him in films such as A Gentleman's Agreement and The Paradine Case.
Highly sexually charge in its day, Duel In the Sun was jeered by critics as "lust in the dust". But given how this film has gone on to be a classic, both Peck and Jones can jeer back. Their performances, and the film itself is still remembered and celebrated.
And where are the critics now?
2.0 out of 5 stars what were you all thinking?,
Despite a tremendous effort on the part of Gregory Peck, Jones, Lilian Gish and the rest of the talented cast to make this horrendous script come to some sort of life-form, the movie ultimately sinks to a level of jabberwocky so low that it makes the script of Paul Verhoeven/Elizabeth Berkley's "Showgirls" seem like "A Place in the Sun" by comparison.
This is two and a half hours of my life I can never get back.
I give it 2-stars -- only because of the stars.
4.0 out of 5 stars JONES VS PECK,
By A Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Plan on "Drueling" over this Duel in the Sun,
This review is from: Duel in the Sun [Import] (DVD)This first-time-ever release of the original Roadshow Version of DUEL IN THE SUN is definitive both as to length and features as well as to its sparkling new look. The Overture and Exit music, by the great Dimitri Tiomkin, prepares the viewer for this overblown, extravagant, and overlength Western. The narration during the Overture places the film in its historical context, and foreshadows the filmmakers' concerns with the Production Code Administration of the day. This film wasn't known as "Lust in the Dust" for nothing.
That this film is overdone in almost every respect shouldn't for one minute discourage the purchase of DUEL. Its tremendous cast--including a surprisingly atypical performance by the great Walter Huston as the "sin killer" preacher--is well worth seeing. While the film is overlong, the costly restoration work that has gone into this edition makes it a visual treat that, for the first time, accurately reveals the high standard of craftsmanship insisted on by its producer David O. Selznick. The colors are so sharp and true that they seem to jump out from the screen. If you are a fan of this film--as something of a "guilty pleasure"--you'll throw away the previous video release of this film with gusto. There is absolutely no comparison whatsoever. The 5-star rating is primarily for how gorgeous it looks than for the story itself. This is what great Technicolor could do during Hollywood's Golden Age. The trailers, also included in this edition, make this a great package.
3.0 out of 5 stars Texas-sized Entertainment,
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Duel in the Sun [Import] by William Dieterle (DVD - 1999)