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The Big Country is a 1958 American Western film directed by William Wyler. It stars Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston, Jean Simmons, Carroll Baker, and Burl Ives. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for its outstanding musical score, and Ives won the award for Best Supporting Actor.

Wealthy, newly retired sea captain James McKay (Peck) travels to the American West to join his fiancée, Patricia (Baker), at the enormous ranch owned by her father, Major Terrill. Terrill has been feuding with Rufus Hannassey (Ives), the patriarch of a poorer, less refined ranching clan. McKay gets caught up in the middle of the Terrill-Hannassey feud.

McKay refuses to be provoked into proving his manhood, having sworn off such behavior since his father died in a meaningless duel. He does nothing to stop Hannassey's trouble-making son, Buck, from harassing him, and he declines a challenge by Terrill's foreman, Steve Leech (Heston), to ride an unruly horse. Patricia, Terrill and Leech consider this to be cowardly in view of the region's lawlessness.

One morning, McKay rides to the Big Muddy, and persuades the owner, Julie (Simmons), to sell him her land by promising to continue her policy of allowing both groups access to the river.

Needless to say, his plan doesn't end exactly as he'd hoped...

The film provides examples of:

  • Awesome Music: Some would say that's what this movie is all about. They may very well be right.
  • Black and Grey Morality: Mr. Hannassey may be relentless, and he certainly won't win the "Father of the Year" award, but he's also a man of honor who always keeps his word and doesn't kill unless he must. Terrill is impulsive and prideful. Killing a bunch of innocent cattle is one thing. Then he goes and leads a lot of good men to their death's, just so he can kill one man!
  • California Doubling: Averted; this is a William Wyler film we're talking about here.
  • Captain Obvious: The locals all seem very intent on pointing out one thing:

 It's a Big Country!

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