Monday, August 8, 2011

'The Big Country' Open Thread

   What did you think?


  1. I loved the grandeur of this movie. The wide open spaces and soaring score set the stage for the test of character. It is a story of a man largely misunderstood by the people around him, people that tend to laugh at and impugn those that are from a different culture. They make their judgment based on what they think they see and they insert motive to actions that are far from the truth. In addition to all this is the tendency for each man to see himself as either the better man, or at least the man in the right.

    I liked the way that Steve Leech, a character that was Jim's rival, was in fact a man of uncommon loyalty and courage. The things the major asked him to do clearly troubled him. Despite his jealousy of McKay and his desire to show himself the better man, Steve Leech was a first rate, tough as nails, thick and thin kind of guy.

    Chuck Connor's Buck Hannassey was equally enjoyable as just a terribly low kind of a man, whose good looks and obvious athleticism cannot redeem a man set on lording over weaker or slower men. His efforts to make himself appear desirable and important in the eyes of others is the opposite of Jim McKays desire to act rightly, no matter how it appears.

  2. This has just become one of my favorite movies. I'd planned to watch half tonight and finish it tomorrow, but an hour in I realized that not only could I not stop halfway, I was already wishing it was longer. All the performances were great, but Gregory Peck was amazing. The scenery and the music were wonderful; the story itself held a remarkable balance with the romantic drama, the individual focus on McKay, and the revealed background and eventual tragedy of the ranchers' feud.

    Oh, more, I'm sure, after I process a bit. But I love this movie.

  3. P.S. Jim, your comments are great! Your characterizations of Leech and Hannassey are perfect.

    Wasn't Burl Ives' Rufus Hannassey a wonderfully complicated character?

    And I can't decide whether of not I feel sorry for Pat. But I'm guessing she ends up with Charlton Heston, so not so much.

    Love. This. Movie.

  4. P.P.S. I loved Jean Simmons in this. And I really didn't expect to, although I can't remember what I saw that I didn't like her in.

  5. I love that last photo in the set above. It seems to convey all of what's going on inside ranch forman Steve Leech. The sense of isolation, the great distance between where he stands and the big house where the beautiful but impossibly unattainable Pat rests. And now McKay is there as well.

    Pat surely knew that Steve desired her, knew that when she went back East, but in Pat's mind and superficial sense of appearances Steve just wasn't good enough for Pat Terrell. A ranch hand? A cowboy that blew in with a tumbleweed ten years ago? The Terrell's certainly must set their sights a little higher.

    Steve Leech is exactly the kind of man that Pat would do well to be married to, and if she is lucky, Steve still wants her after all the dust is settled. I'd make bet that would be the case. All that would be needed would be for Steve to be elevated in her eyes, which is likely to happen as he helps her run the ranch. They have obvious chemistry in their own high spirited way. I think she liked the idea of the two men fighting over her - and at that point it wasn't clear who she would want to win. But it was over her. He had called Jim a liar, but the driving force behind his words was his claim that Jim McKay wasn't good enough for Pat. She was a silly creature, sure enough, but I am sure Julie Maragon was right, that underneath the superficial she had the qualities that would be of great value in the long run of life. A Terrell toughness and stick to it quality that would show over time.

    I am so glad you liked the show! Rufus Hannassey was such a great character. One of many, really. And there was quite a bit of really great dialogue and humor written in throughout.

    "McKay, you're a bigger fool than I thought. Frankly, that just didn't seem possible."

    as Steve said as he went out to join Jim for the fight. That was a great couple of lines. And Ramon, a ready friend, a good hearted, simple man, not a mean bone in his body, but he has perhaps the key line in the movie when Julie and Pat try to piece together what happened at the ranch with Jim, and after he explains, he adds:

    "A man like that... is very rare."

    Yes, it was a fine show. I'd love to hear more of what you thought of it.

  6. I loved that scene where the Terrells are on the ridge line getting ready to ride into San Rafael, when the red head catches a glimpse of them and she knows what's coming. Next thing you know Buck is crashing out of the back window, and there's Red yelling after him:

    "Pig! Pig!! I hope they catch you, Pig!!"

    And that's his girl friend? My, my, old Buck sure has a way with the ladies.