The Big Country,Retired, wealthy sea Captain James McKay arrives in the vast expanse of the West to marry fiancée Pat Terrill. McKay is a man whose values and approach to life are a mystery to the ranchers and ranch foreman Steve Leech takes an immediate dislike to him. Pat is spoiled, selfish, and controlled by her wealthy father, Major Henry Terrill. The Major is involved in a ruthless land war, over watering rights for cattle, with a rough-hewn clan led by Rufus Hennessey. The land in question is owned by Julie Maragon and both Terrill and Hannassey want it.
The best western ever, with one of the most important characters in ANY film.
The Big Country, The best western ever, with one of the most important characters in ANY film. Gregory Peck’s McKay was an ideal role model for any boy or youth, showing what it really is to be a man. In our culture so much machismo and swagger have passed for manhood, which they simply aren’t. There’s more man to McKay than in all the John Wayne films laid end to end.
And that’s just one aspect of this great film. Jerome Meross’s score SHOULD have won the Academy Award by a huge margin over the actual winner, Dmitri Tiompkin’s score for The Old Man and the Sea.
And more: cast, performances, scenery, writing, editing, directing, . . . . . . just everything about this film. Simply wonderful.
I understand that critics regarded the film as rather lightweight. Maybe they just didn’t get it. Perhaps that is true even of people associated with the film. I once heard Gregory Peck – my all-time favorite actor – speaking rather dismissively of the film. I was disappointed. But he’s still my all-time favorite actor.
Finally, what a delight Alfonso Bedoya was in this, his final film! HIS character “got it,” as demonstrated with his assessment of McKay: “He is a very rare man.”