The Big Country (1958)

January 3rd, 2024
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: William Wyler | Cast: Charles Bickford, Charlton Heston, Jean Simmons, Burl Ives | US Western

Having earned his spurs as a director of ‘B’ westerns during the silent era, William Wyler strode back into town thirty years later to supercharge the genre with the help of Technicolor and Technicolor to embellish the petty squabbling that passed for a plot in ‘The Big Country’.

A New England sea captain in the 1880s arrives at his fiancée’s sprawling Texas ranch, where he becomes embroiled in a feud between two families over a valuable patch of land.

Wyler’s co.producer Gregory Peck created something of an anomaly being about as vertical an actor as you could possibly find, which probably necessitated the frequent use of longshots in the staging.

Charles Bickford and Charlton Heston bring considerable authority to relatively small supporting roles; while after the scenery the most impressive feature is probably Chuck Connors’ teeth, his provenance as Burl Ives’ proving rather hard to swallow, but his interest in the radiant Jean Simmons being only too plausible. @RichardChatten

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