Duel in the Sun

( 4 )


In David O. Selznick's florid, overheated melodrama Duel in the Sun Jennifer Jones stars as half-Native American Pearl Chavez, who everyone has tagged as a "bad girl" foredoomed to an unhappy end. Her father is Scott Chavez Herbert Marshall, an ill-fated fellow who kills his wife and her lover Sidney Blackmer and gets hung for it. Pearl is taken into the home of the greedy rancher McCanles Lionel Barrymore and his kindly wife Laura Belle Lillian Gish, who'd once been Scott's sweetheart. McCanles's virtuous son ...
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In David O. Selznick's florid, overheated melodrama Duel in the Sun Jennifer Jones stars as half-Native American Pearl Chavez, who everyone has tagged as a "bad girl" foredoomed to an unhappy end. Her father is Scott Chavez Herbert Marshall, an ill-fated fellow who kills his wife and her lover Sidney Blackmer and gets hung for it. Pearl is taken into the home of the greedy rancher McCanles Lionel Barrymore and his kindly wife Laura Belle Lillian Gish, who'd once been Scott's sweetheart. McCanles's virtuous son Jesse Joseph Cotten, befriends Pearl and ffeels some stirrings of attraction to her, though Jesse is far more taken by Helen Langford Joan Tetzel, the daughter of a wealthy railroad tycoon Otto Kruger. In the mean time, Pearl catches the eye of Jesse's evil brother, ne'er-do-well Lewt Gregory Peck, who seduces her but refuses to marry her. Pearl falls for straw boss Sam Pierce Charles Bickford, who proposes marriage, though the engagement is short-lived: Lewt learns of the couple's involvement and ends up killing Sam; then McCanles turns up and cautions Lewt to stay out of sight until things quiet down. Lewt indeed flees the premises and becomes an outlaw. Meanwhile, McCanles organizes his cattlemen into an enormous stand against Kruger and other railroad men; Jesse initially decides to aid his father but then switches sides at the last moment, and in response, McCanles disowns him. With this film, producer Selznick attempted to recreate the success of Gone with the Wind; it fell far short in terms of box office success, though Duel was critically acclaimed upon release. Many have often jokingly referred to the picture as 'Lust in the Dust,' which eventually became the actual title of a 1985 comedy western by Paul Bartel.
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Karen Backstein
With enough steamy melodrama to delight just about anyone, King Vidor's grand-scale Technicolor western tells its elemental tale on a stage of wide-open spaces and broiling desert landscapes. Duel in the Sun was meant to showcase the talents of actress Jennifer Jones, the soon-to-be-wife of mega-producer David O. Selznick. The egomaniacal executive conceived this movie especially for her and closely oversaw every aspect of its development. Jones plays Pearl Chavez, a half-breed street dancer given the opportunity to become a "lady" when some distant cousins take her in. Unfortunately, her ripe sexuality "bursts forth" at every opportunity, causing a rivalry between nice-guy Jesse Joseph Cotten and the lawless but irresistible Lewt -- played by Gregory Peck with sex practically oozing from every pore. Buried underneath this overheated romance are vexed questions about race, gender, and civilization. But nothing beats the knockout ending, a visually overwhelming shoot-out in the burning desert rocks that combines violence and sexual obsession in a uniquely heady brew.
All Movie Guide
Appropriately nicknamed "Lust in the Dust," Duel in the Sun is a wacky, grandiose melodrama, famous for its sexual innuendo. Producer David O. Selznick was attempting to top his success with Gone With the Wind, and though it did make quite a lot of money, Duel never matched the level of public and critical adulation of his previous film. It's still good fun to watch, especially the riotous ending. Despite starring the producer's second wife, Jennifer Jones, and a host of other big names (Gregory Peck, Lillian Gish, Joseph Cotten, Lionel Barrymore), the film relegates the performers mostly to the background -- as they are in the final shot. Selznick was so keen on producing the "biggest movie ever" that, in 1946, Duel was the most expensive film ever made. The producer's meddling in the filmmaking process drove director King Vidor from the picture, and five other uncredited directors would work on the film after him, including Josef von Sternberg and William Dieterle.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/25/2004
  • UPC: 883904126638
  • Original Release: 1946
  • Source: Mgm (Video & Dvd)
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Griff Barnett The Jailer
Jennifer Jones Pearl Chavez
Gregory Peck Lewt McCanles
Charles Bickford Sam Pierce
Joseph Cotten Jesse McCanles
Lionel Barrymore Senator McCanles
Sidney Blackmer Sr. The Lover
Harry Carey Lem Smoot
Lillian Gish Laura Belle McCanles
Lane Chandler Captain, US Cavalry
Walter Huston Preacher
Herbert Marshall Scott Chavez
Frank Cordell Frank
Thomas P. Dillon Engineer
Charles Dingle Sheriff Hardy
Steve Dunhill Jake
Otto Kruger Mr. Langford
Tilly Losch Mrs. Chavez
Francis McDonald Gambler
Scott McKay Sid
Bob McKenzie Bartender
Butterfly McQueen Vashti
Lloyd Shaw Barbecue Caller
Joan Tetzel Helen Langford
Dan White Ed
Si Jenks
Lee Phelps Engineer
Rose Plummer Dancer
Bert Roach Eater
Al Taylor Man at Barbecue
Orson Welles Voice Only
Guy Wilkerson Barfly
Johnny Bond Hand at Barbeque
Victor Kilian Gambler
Hank Worden Cowhand
Technical Credits
King Vidor Director
James Basevi Art Director
Charles P. Boyle Cinematographer
Jack Cosgrove Special Effects
Allen M. Davey Cinematographer
Richard DeWeese Sound/Sound Designer
Lowell J. Farrell Asst. Director
John D. Faure Editor
Charles Freeman Editor
Lee Garmes Cinematographer
Oliver H.P. Garrett Screenwriter
John Ewing Art Director
J. McMillan Johnson Production Designer
Hal Kern Editor
Emile Kuri Set Decoration/Design
Tilly Losch Choreography
Walter Plunkett Costumes/Costume Designer
Ray Rennahan Cinematographer
Harold Hal Rosson Cinematographer
David O. Selznick Producer, Screenwriter
Lloyd Shaw Choreography
Clarence Slifer Special Effects
James G. Stewart Sound/Sound Designer
Dimitri Tiomkin Score Composer, Musical Direction/Supervision
William H. Ziegler Editor
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Passionate, pulsating, oozing with sexuality!

    I saw this film for the first time when I was only 16. I never forgot it. Yes, I know it can be seen as over acted at times by Jennifer Jones and Lillian Gish. However, all I know is that, the first time I watched it with my soon to be husband, we were both hot around the collar! I became a lifelong fan of all it's stars and I never missed an opportunity to watch this movie over and over...it still steams up my glasses!! I love stories of love found and lost..and the pain passion and sorrow that goes with giving your heart to someone...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Pot boiler - strange blend of melodrama and western!

    Producer David O. Selznick never thought small. Dreaming of a magnum opus on the same grand scale as 'Gone with the Wind' and, perhaps a little bit self-conscious of the fact that his recent affair with Jennifer Jones had yielded only one stellar performance from the starlet - and not even in a film he had produced - Selznick's driving ambition to make Jones a star on par with the likes of Vivien Leigh, led him to handcraft 'Duel in the Sun.' This was to be an extravagant Technicolor epic about a doomed mulatto, Pearl Chavez (Jones) and her rabid lust for, Lewton McCanles (Gregory Peck, in the uncharacteristic part as the villain), the ruthless son and roguish playboy of retired senator and bigoted rancher, Jackson McCanles (Lionel Barrymore). After Pearl¿s father, Scott (Herbert Marshall) murders her mother, Pearl is sent to live with Jackson and his wife, Laura Bell (Lillian Gish) on their sprawling ranch, Spanish Bit. Pearl is determined to live purely and plainly, but her incendiary disposition leads into the arms of Lewton. Jesse McCanles (Joseph Cotten), the good son, is forced to leave Spanish Bit, returning years later to find that his brother has become a ruthless tyrant and outlaw. Buttressed by a fiery backdrop about the colliding sensibilities of old West morality and the true Northern ambitions to tame it, ¿Duel In The Sun¿ ultimately became an overblown melodrama that seemed almost a garish lampoon of 'Gone With The Wind' rather than its successor. It did respectable box office at the time but very little to advance Jennifer Jones¿ career into the echelons of super stardom. Prior to its release a sensual dance sequence that Pearl performs around a tree stump for Lewton was deleted because the censorship of the period found its sexual implications¿well, shocking. Selznick¿s usual attention to craftsmanship and story design also seem to be absent from this occasion. He repositions Butterfly McQueen (Prissy from ¿Gone With The Wind) as the Prissy-esque house maid, Vashti, who is even dumber than Prissy and, Selznick muddles the supporting cast with oddities of all sorts, including Walter Huston as a religious zealot, determined to rid Pearl of her sexual demons, and Charles Bickford, as an over-the-hill farmer who offers Pearl his hand in a loveless marriage. Because of its sexually charged subject matter (there is, after all, a rape, a murder and the prospect of lovers committing suicide in the mountains) ¿Duel In The Sun¿ acquired the rather unflattering moniker of `Lust In The Dust.¿ ¿Duel In The Sun¿ had previously been made available from Anchor Bay in a stunning road show edition. MGM's reissue is the truncated theatrical version ¿ also made previously available through Anchor Bay. On all three DVD incarnations, colors are well balanced, though on this new version they seem a tad more dated from the rich and vibrant colors on the Anchor Bay version. Black levels are good but fine detail is lost in many darkly lit scenes. There's also more noticeable film grain on this version than the Anchor Bay edition. The audio is remixed to stereo but only marginally appealing, sounding rather forced and re-channeled. There are NO extras. There's nothing to stand up and cheer about here. If you are a die hard fan of this film, or westerns, then you will definitely want to look up the out of print copy from Anchor Bay, rather than this reissue. Aside from being longer, the Anchor Bay version also tends to be a better visual presentation overall.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews