6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Atticus Finch goes West
This is a sprawling, glorious saga that will be appreciated by people who don't even like the Western genre. With fabulous cinematography, an excellent script, and two of my favorite actors, it's a film I never tire of watching.
Gregory Peck is the sea captain with principles who goes west to meet his future bride, only to find feuds and fighting, and some lawless...
Published on Jun 22 2004 by Alejandra Vernon
3.0 out of 5 stars WHY, MGM.......WHY ?
WHY give such a great movie as this such an inferior DVD transfer....Absolutely no better than a my well used VHS version. Big Country deserves better. My rating is 5 stars for the movie and 1 star for the transfer = 3 stars
Published on Nov 26 2006 by chuck canuk
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Atticus Finch goes West,
This review is from: The Big Country (DVD)This is a sprawling, glorious saga that will be appreciated by people who don't even like the Western genre. With fabulous cinematography, an excellent script, and two of my favorite actors, it's a film I never tire of watching.
Gregory Peck is the sea captain with principles who goes west to meet his future bride, only to find feuds and fighting, and some lawless varmints who need his "non violent" ways of resolving territorial issues. He is terrific as James McKay, who is sort of an Atticus Finch in boots, and looks mighty fine as well.
Charlton Heston has the smaller part as Leech, a foreman who is seething with jealousy and obeys the orders of his unscrupulous boss (rancher Terrill, played with subtle menace by Charles Bickford) as he yearns for his daughter. Heston is brilliant as this rather complex character, and would a year later star in director William Wyler's next epic, "Ben Hur", which is perhaps my all-time most viewed and enjoyed film.
Both female leads are wonderful, and are portrayed with enormous strength; Jean Simmons, with her luminous eyes is the schoolteacher, and Carroll Baker is the tough daughter of rancher Bickford, and is too much like her daddy to make a suitable bride for Peck.
If you like a good screen fight like I do, this has a great one, "mano a mano" between Peck and Heston; it initially has no music, just the pounding of the fists and the men gasping for breath, and is very effective.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good Western movie,
This review is from: Big Country [Import] (VHS Tape)
Gregory Peck ... James McKay
It is said that Gregory Peck and William Wyler, erstwhile friends who had previously worked together successfully had a falling out over this film and never spoke for years afterward. Both were co-producers, and Peck became agitated over the fact that Wylie was working too slowly and the film was going 'way over budget. Wylie resented anyone else telling him how to make a movie. It also appears that three of Peck's children had children's parts in the film.
The fight seen between Peck and Heston is one of the high points of the film that has caused much comment, as it was filmed from a great distance, rather than close-uo.
Such details aside, the story depicts a sea-captain, James McKay (Peck) coming West to marry Patricia Terrill (Carol Baker). He walks straight into a personal vendetta between Major Henry Terrill (Charles Bickford) and Rufus Hannassey (Burl Ives) over an old grudge, and the usual battle over water rights typical in many Western stories. McKay is a peaceful man who tends to avoid resorting to violence, causing his would-be bride to accuse him of cowardice.
Buck Hannassey (Chuck Connors) and Steve Leech (Charlton Heston) play supporting roles, each of whom has designs on the leading women in the story, leading to antagonisms. Ramon (Alphonso Bedoya) plays his part well, as a Mexican ranch employee. He was better in the Treasure of the Sierra Madre, I think, but he always turns in a good performance.
This is a good Western, with the usual scenery typical of the West. The plot is somewhat hackneyed, but is well-played and comes off well, thanks to the staff.
Joseph (Joe) Pierre
5.0 out of 5 stars The Big Country,
This review is from: Big Country [Blu-ray] [Import] (Blu-ray)Everything is BIG about this classic: big stars, big scenery, big music, big story....unique, memorable, moving, fun. One of the truly great westerns.
5.0 out of 5 stars Blu-ray review,
This review is from: Big Country [Blu-ray] [Import] (Blu-ray)-> BLU RAY
Very solid picture+sound. Original aspect ratio.
Picture quality 8.5/10
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 orig.
Run time (24 fps): 2 46'54''
Audio: Engl. HD MA
ST: GB;E;F;D;I ; o/-
RC A (B?)
Bonus: Making of, Trailer, TV spot
Studio: 2oth Century Fox/MGM
3.0 out of 5 stars WHY, MGM.......WHY ?,
This review is from: The Big Country (DVD)WHY give such a great movie as this such an inferior DVD transfer....Absolutely no better than a my well used VHS version. Big Country deserves better. My rating is 5 stars for the movie and 1 star for the transfer = 3 stars
5.0 out of 5 stars The only Western that I highly recommend watching,
This review is from: The Big Country (DVD)Although my tastes in film are very broad, I am not fond of Westerns. However, "The Big Country" is an excellent film. It is a Western, but in many ways it doesn't FEEL like a Western. The film's intelligence, strong characters, and reliance on humanity provide a superior storyline to the traditional shoot-'em-up mentality so common in Westerns.
The basic premise concerns retired sea captain James McKay (Peck), who travels West to marry his fiancé Pat Terrill (Baker), whom he met while she was visiting Baltimore. He is quickly thrown in the middle of a huge family feud between the wealthy Terrills and the struggling Hannasseys, presumably over water rights at the Big Muddy, a dormant ranch owned by the lovely schoolteacher Julie (Simmons). However, McKay, the intelligent outsider, sees through the feuding patriarchs (Bickford and Ives). What follows is, in my opinion, one of the most effective showdowns in Western cinema (forget "High Noon").
The characterization in this film is particularly strong. Gregory Peck is very good, as always, even though his McKay character has a level of integrity that may be just a BIT hard to swallow. Carroll Baker's role as the spoiled only child is sickeningly good. Jean Simmons is sweet and demure, but strong and self-sufficient, a perfect contrast to her friend, Pat. Charles Bickford's egotistical role as Major Henry Terrill is great, and his questionable relationship with his daughter raised my eyebrows. Charlton Heston's role is relatively small, but he provides the necessary tension and jealousy between himself, Baker, and Peck. In addition, his character's loyalty to Terrill, although misplaced, is touching. Chuck Connors' character as Buck Hannassey is vile, trashy, and degrading, but his performance is one of the most credible in the film. And, saving the best for last, Burl Ives is absolutely superb in the role of Rufus Hannassey, the overweight, bullying patriarch who simultaneously loves and hates his son Buck. He deserved the Best Supporting Actor Oscar that he won for this role.
There is one flaw to this film that stands out, and another reviewer mentioned it below: watch the canyon barricade scene near the end. The Terrill bunch HAD to see that coming, yet they acted surprised. Wyler missed it there, I think, but overall the film is a beautiful piece of cinema.
One last praise: the score. From the opening credits, this beautifully motivating music resounds throughout the film and is one of my favorites. Just beautiful.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Western as Shakespearean Tragedy,
This review is from: The Big Country (DVD)This film has everything going for it. A stupendous landscape that is used as its backdrop; photography that is second to none and a stirring musical soundtrack.
The script is well-written and does much to explore the tensions and antagonisms between the character. The main tension in the film, however, are the apparent class antagonisms that exist between the richer and classier cattle magnate Terrills and the apparent down-at-heel Hannesseys. Burl Ives turns in a very emotive performance as Rufus Hannassey, who appears to have a noble heart and admires and respects James McKay played by Gregory Peck.
It is a tragedy that ends in a duel between Hannasey's low-life son, Buck Hannasey (played by Chuck Connors). Although Rufus has little time for Buck, he becomes completely grief-stricken by his demise. Ives' performance is full of pathos that one can help feeling for him.
It's a Western to end all Westerns.
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely stunning music. Peck and Heston in their prime,
This review is from: The Big Country (DVD)Clearly, the most enduring "character" of this larger than life western is the score by Jerome Moross. Regularly named as one of the ten best movie scores of all time, it's hard to imagine that it lost the Oscar in 1958 for Best Score to "The Old Man and the Sea!" Who remembers the music to THAT??????
Peck and Heston are in their primes here, and Heston courageously took a role that didn't make him heroic every minute..a much more complex and conflicted character than most he has played. Gregory Peck's style and grace were never more evident than in this role.
For 1958, the female roles in this movie were ahead of their time. Their roles drive the story, they are not just ornamentation along with the big skies and canyons.
But again, the star of this movie is the incredible score. If you can find the boxed set soundtrack release, covet it!
4.0 out of 5 stars "You take a helluva long time to say goodbye.",
This review is from: The Big Country (DVD)4.5 stars. This is another epic undertaking from legendary director William Wyler. Some of the classic films on his resume have been showered with awards. Films like "The Best Years of Our Lives," "Mrs. Miniver," "Roman Holiday," and my personal favorite from his extensive catalog, the 1959 version of "Ben-Hur." Those four films alone collected nearly 30 Oscars between them! His work is very impressive, and this film has all the ambition one could possibly hope for from such a celebrated director. The scope of the picture is immense, with panoramic vistas beautifully photographed, great costume design and set decorations, and a large cast of legendary actors. All the acting is first-rate, the supporting cast equaling even the greatest performances here. Charlton Heston, Gregory Peck, and Jean Simmons all do splendid star turns, while Burl Ives gives his all in his Oscar-winning performance. But this is William Wyler's film, and his outstanding work here is what makes this so enjoyable. The variety of camera angles he uses keeps everything fresh and lively, changing persepctives from mountain tops to showing part of a scene from what it would look like if the audience was watching from under a bed. This is a classic style Western, the kind they just don't make anymore. It has a huge cast, magnificent locales, professional direction and high production values. The only complaint I have it that it is slightly dated, but by the end of the movie I really didn't mind all that much, the acting is so good and the production is so grand in scale. There is one flaw in the story. Just one glaring flaw. When a large group of men ride into a canyon and a large barricade falls, blocking their way, they retreat back the way they came only to be boxed in when another, similarly large barricade falls, blocking their retreat. They couldn't see the first barricade on their way in? It was huge, and not camoflauged in any way. That is the only reason I can't give this otherwise entertaining film 5 stars. However, this is a fun film. A quintessential Western epic with superb direction from William Wyler and excellent acting from the entire cast. My favorite scene is a long fight between Charlton Heston and Gregory Peck at night on the prairie, with only the cows watching them exhaust themselves. Now that's entertainment!
4.0 out of 5 stars Good performances in a beautiful Hollywood Western,
This review is from: The Big Country (DVD)THE BIG COUNTRY is a very good Hollywood Western, with all the strengths and weaknesses that implies: a first-rate cast and fine production values, but a less-than-imaginative script written by a studio committee. The story is a variation on the tried-and-true "Eastern Dude Tames Wild West" theme. Co-produced by director William Wyler and star Gregory Peck, it strives a bit self-consciously for epic grandeur, and lacks the comparatively gritty realism of John Ford's thematically related THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE.
As the transplanted Easterner, Peck's understated performance is a pleasure to watch. Jean Simmons is fine as the schoolmarm, and the two Chucks (Conners and Heston) are equally good in their roles. A supporting actor Oscar went to Burl Ives, but the standout performance belongs to Carroll Baker as Peck's spoiled fiance. Franz Planer's cinematography is quite good, too, but like the script, performances, and pacing, it's just a little bit too self-conscious. The picture feels more like OKLAHOMA! than like THE SEARCHERS--altogether too theatrical to sustain the suspension of disbelief.
Yet this is a very entertaining movie--at least for those who value character, conflict, and beautiful imagery over car chases, explosions, and other special effects. And fans of Westerns in particular should appreciate the many virtues of this near-Classic. Four solid stars.
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The Big Country by William Wyler (DVD - 2003)
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