Tuesday, January 31, 2012

01-22-12: A country as far and wide as the sea.

THE BIG COUNTRY (1958) (Unrated) 166 mins. ***1/2 D: William Wyler. Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston, Burl Ives, Jean Simmons, Carroll Baker, Chuck Connors.

A retired sea captain moves to the west to marry his fiancee and finds himself embroiled in a land war between two cattle barons. Despite being immediately looked upon as an unwanted outsider, he grows to love the land and lifestyle and aims to stay.

This western is more about civility then action and shootouts. It is also about the perception of image. In this land if you don't fight you are seen as a coward, even by those close to you. However, McKay will only fight when it's necessary and on his terms. Gregory Peck plays a gentlemen's gentlemen. He believes things can always be handled civilly but is not beyond settling things physically. Unlike the many ranch folk he encounters he handles everything his way and again on his terms. The feud that he unwillingly becomes involved in escalates to an all-out civil war and he takes action to prevent further bloodshed. The only problem is that these people are so embedded in their ways that they may be too blind to notice there are always other ways to do things.

Solid performances from the all-star cast elevate this from being just your average oater. It has a sweeping score, fine direction and great cinematography. It's an enjoyable western that is definitely worth seeing.

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