πŸŽ₯ The Big Country – 1958

The Story …

Former sea captain, James McKay, travels to the American West to join his fiancΓ©e, Patricia, where she lives on an enormous ranch owned by her father, Henry Terrill.

The ranch is named Ladder Ranch. Mr. Terrill has the biggest ranch in the area and everyone refers to him as “The Major.”

One of Terrill’s hands named Steve Leech picks up McKay at the stagecoach depot in town and delivers him to the home of Patricia’s friend, Julie Maragon, who is the town’s only schoolteacher. Patricia introduces Jim to Julie and they become fast friends.

Leech offers to escort McKay and Patricia back to the ranch, but Patricia refuses …

However, Jim & Patricia are accosted by a group of drunks led by Buck Hannassey who is the son of Rufus Hannassey, the Major’s bitter enemy. Despite the harassment and mockery by the drunken Hannassey gang, McKay chooses to make light of the incident in stating that he has experienced far worse during his life as a sailor. Patricia is incredulous that McKay insists that the boys meant no harm.

The next morning…the Major’s foreman, Steve Leech, tries to trick McKay into riding a bucking bronco named “Old Thunder.” Sensing that Leech seems too eager to get him on that particular horse, McKay declines the invitation. McKay will later find out that the cowboys who work for the Major always go through the same ritual with newcomers.

It is seen as a joke to have any newcomer bucked off of Old Thunder. McKay then brings a pair of duelling pistols once owned by his father and presents them to the Major as a gift. When the Major learns of Buck Hannassey’s drunken harassment of his daughter and future son-in-law the day before, he gathers his men and leads a raid to the Hannassey ranch. McKay tries to stop them…but, the Major refuses to change his mind.

The Major’s cowboys find neither Rufus nor Buck at the Hannassey place so, they settle for terrorizing the Hannassey women and children instead. Plus, they shoot holes in the Hannassey’s water tank which threatens the very survival of the Hannasseys because water is a precious commodity in the west.

They ride into town where they find Buck’s posse and proceed to beat & humiliate them while Buck hides in the back of a wagon intimidated by the cowboys.

Meanwhile … back at the ranch, McKay privately rides and tames Old Thunder after many unsuccessful attempts. McKay swears his only witness, the ranch hand Ramon, to secrecy.

A gala is held on the Terrill ranch later that evening in honour of Patricia’s upcoming wedding to McKay. At the height of the festivities, an armed Rufus Hannassey crashes the party and accuses the Major of the hypocrisy of pretending to be a gentleman when his actions earlier that day speak otherwise. Rufus accuses the Major of scaring women and children and goads Terrill into a direct confrontation…man to man.

Terrill doesn’t take the bait and Rufus finally strides out of the house & rides away on his horse. The next day, McKay secretly goes to Julie Maragon’s abandoned ranch, known as the “Big Muddy.” The Big Muddy Ranch is the location of the town’s only nearby river and as such is a vital source of water for both the Terrill and Hannassey cattle during times of drought.

McKay persuades Julie to sell the Big Muddy Ranch to him in the hopes of securing a wedding gift for Patricia. Plus, McKay wants to end the conflict between Terrill and Hannassey by allowing both unrestricted access to the river. When Ramon reveals to the Major and Patricia that McKay has left to go riding into the Big Country, they are immediately alarmed.

Paticia is concerned that McKay will be lost or injured in the unfamiliar area. So, the Major sends out a search party led by Steve Leach in order to bring McKay home. What they don’t realize is McKay is proficient with his compass from his days of sailing around the world. McKay isn’t lost at all and shows up at the camp of the search party that night. Everyone tells McKay that he was foolish to ride out alone.

Patricia is relieved when McKay and the others return to Ladder Ranch. However, she begins to imply that McKay is no match for the Big Country. Leech calls McKay a liar when McKay explains that he was never really lost or in danger.

McKay again chooses to ignore the insults rather than fight with Leech. Patricia is disappointed that McKay would allow any man to call him a liar. She considers it an embarrassment to herself as well as McKay.

She says that you don’t allow a hired hand to insult you. McKay and Patricia don’t see eye to eye on much of anything and reconsider their engagement. Everyone is upset and goes to bed. Before dawn and without an audience, McKay finally challenges Leech to a “farewell” fight. Their prolonged fistfight ultimately ends in a draw.

Later that same morning, Julie Maragon arrives to tell Patricia about McKay’s purchase of the Big Muddy Ranch as a wedding gift. Initially, Patricia is convinced to make amends with McKay. However, when she learns of McKay’s plan to allow the Hannasseys equal access to the water, Patricia leaves McKay for good.

Wanting to lure the Major into an ambush in the canyon leading to his homestead, Rufus takes Julie Maragon hostage. McKay arrives to rescue Julie and personally promises Rufus that he will give Hannassey equal access to the river on Big Muddy Ranch. Nevertheless, Jim finds himself in a clash with Buck.

They are given an ultimatum by Rufus to settle their disagreement like gentlemen and he forces them into a shootout using the old dueling pistols. Buck fires before the signal and misses. His bullet grazed McKay’s forehead and thus, leaves Buck open to be shot by McKay. Buck hides again…this time under a wagon!

The display of cowardice convinces McKay to spare Buck but the frustrated Buck jumps to his feet and grabs another gun from a nearby cowboy!

The story unfolds …

Credits :

  • Directed by : William Wyler

  • Written by : James R. Webb, Sy Bartlett and Robert Wilder

  • Based on : Ambush at Blanco Canyon by Donald Hamilton

  • Produced by : Gregory Peck and William Wyler

  • Cinematography : Franz F. Planer, ASC

  • Edited by : Robert Belcher, John Faure and Robert Swink (sup)

  • Music by : Jerome Moross

  • Distributed by : United Artists

  • Release Date : August 13, 1958

Cast :

  • Gregory Peck as James McKay

  • Jean Simmons as Julie Maragon

  • Carroll Baker as Patricia Terrill

  • Charlton Heston as Steve Leech

  • Burl Ives as Rufus Hannassey

  • Charles Bickford as Maj. Henry Terrill

  • Alfonso Bedoya as RamΓ³n Gutierrez

  • Chuck Connors as Buck Hannassey

  • Chuck Hayward as Rafe Hannassey

  • Buff Brady as Dude Hannassey

  • Jim Burk as Blackie / Cracker Hannassey

  • Dorothy Adams as Hannassey Woman

  • Chuck Roberson as Terrill Cowboy

Film Information :

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Big_Country

Copyright Protected :

ALL RIGHTS TO THIS MOVIE REMAIN WITH THE OWNERS

GENRE : #WESTERN-MOVIES

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