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Big Country

The Big Country

4.8 5
Director: William Wyler

Cast: Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons, Carroll Baker


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This DVD of The Big Country will inevitably be a disappointment to anyone who saw the mid-1990's laserdisc release. The movie was one of a handful of classic westerns to get deluxe treatment on laser, including the presence of a narrative track on which Jerome Moross's epic score was discussed, interviews with Gregory Peck, Burl Ives, Charlton Heston, and Jean


This DVD of The Big Country will inevitably be a disappointment to anyone who saw the mid-1990's laserdisc release. The movie was one of a handful of classic westerns to get deluxe treatment on laser, including the presence of a narrative track on which Jerome Moross's epic score was discussed, interviews with Gregory Peck, Burl Ives, Charlton Heston, and Jean Simmons, a behind-the-scenes featurette, a still archive, and one channel containing the Moross's music as an unmixed music track. Those extras are all gone, and they are missed, along with a lot of the depth of color in the laser transfer -- the DVD transfer is completely different, the color far more muted throughout (but especially in the main title sequence and the adjacent transition scene). Admittedly, to have put all of those extras on the DVD would have made it necessary to do this as either a two-sided or a double-disc release (at $20 or $24 list), which might have scared off the viewer in search of an inexpensive title. In its defense, the image (letterboxed at the same 2.35-to-1 anamorphic aspect ratio) is cleaner and has none of the slight variations in tone that were inherent in most laser playback, but otherwise seems duller. Only in the final 30 minutes does the color and the crispness come up to the standard that one would expect from a DVD presentation of this movie. The sound is clean but unspectacular, and the 16 chapters for a 166 minute movie seems scarcely adequate. The disc opens automatically on a simple menu, and the only significant extra is the trailer (also letterboxed) and a selection of French and Spanish subtitles.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Burl Ives, better known for his singing, won an Oscar as a tyrannical land baron in this sweeping Western saga, a sprawling, nearly three-hour epic about two families feuding over water rights. It featured Gregory Peck opposite two love interests (Carroll Baker and Jean Simmons), and it had a major role for Charlton Heston as well. Even television's The Rifleman, Chuck Connors, was part of the cast. Staggering vistas and a grandiose story make this an emblematic Western, though its emotions are transparent. Some critics believed that it was an allegory about the Cold War. Veteran director William Wyler had survived the anti-Communist blacklisting of the McCarthy era and, a year later, would go on to direct Ben-Hur.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Mgm (Video & Dvd)
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby Digital, monaural]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Original theatrical trailer; English: mono; French: mono; French and Spanish subtitles

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Gregory Peck James McKay
Jean Simmons Julie Maragon
Carroll Baker Pat Terrill
Charlton Heston Steve Leech
Burl Ives Rufus Hannassey
Charles Bickford Maj. Henry Terrill
Alfonso Bedoya Ramon
Chuck Connors Buck Hannassey
Chuck Hayward Rafe
Buff Brady Dude
Jim Burk Cracker
Dorothy Adams Hannassey Woman
Chuck Roberson Terrill Cowboy
Bob Morgan Terrill Cowboy
Burt Mustin Actor
John R. McKee Terrill Cowboy

Technical Credits
William Wyler Director,Producer
Eddie Armand Costumes/Costume Designer
Sy Bartlett Screenwriter
Robert Belcher Editor
John D. Faure Editor
Jerome Moross Score Composer
Gregory Peck Producer
Franz Planer Cinematographer
Emile Santiago Costumes/Costume Designer
James R. Webb Screenwriter
Robert Wilder Screenwriter
Yvonne Wood Costumes/Costume Designer

Scene Index

Side #1 --
0. Side #1 --
0. Scene Selections
1. Logo/Main Title [3:06]
2. New Husband In Town [5:30]
3. The Hannassey Trash [8:20]
4. Courtin' Julie [3:14]
5. Pistols And Coffee [18:33]
6. Taming Old Thunder [12:26]
7. Dog-Eat-Dog Society [18:42]
8. Schoolmarm Property [13:30]
9. The Rules Of Honor [2:04]
10. Like Cattle To Water [13:42]
11. The Truth About Jim [4:41]
12. It's Over [6:31]
13. For Love Of The Dowry [8:34]
14. A War Of Old Men [11:21]
15. Gentleman's Duel [20:25]
16. The Mousetrap [6:29]


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The Big Country 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Vito_minguy More than 1 year ago
What a pleasant surprise! A brilliant and unconventional story line!
Guest More than 1 year ago
the film explores what men and women are about. It does that with the backcloth of a 'nothing world' - but a clash of two worlds the old and the new. Never forget were Peck is supposed to come from. Most reviewers miss that. that completely.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It takes a great movie to have a family tradition centered around it. Every now and then my dad will say, 'kids, it's been a while since we watched 'The Big Country'' so he will run out and rent it, and so the tradition begins. It ends right after the 'best movie intro in the world' when my dad falls asleep. Now if anyone should know how good The Big Country is it would be me. I have sat down and watched the three hour saga about thirty times. I know a good movie. Basically what happens is Peck strolls into town a pretty boy, who is smart. He meets his fiancee's parents. Everyone thinks he is a pansy, until his theory that violence isn't the answer proven at the end. It is proven with the dramatic death of his fiancee's father and his rival. With the death the rivalry is ended. The best part of this movie is a monologue where Mr. Bickford's rival strolls into Mr. Bickfords upity party and tells off Mr. Bickford. Another great part is where Mr. Bickford shoots his own son because he was about to cheat at a duel. Talk about an awesome twist. They don't make movies like this anymore.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I first saw this film as an eleven-year-old in a glamorous old-fashioned movie theatre. In the nearly 50 years since then, it has remained with me as an archetype of the classic Hollywood western: broad-shouldered, strutting, macho, violent, sentimental. Gregory Peck is perfect as the Eastern dude who is uncomfortable with the "code of the West", and Burl Ives' performance as a stern patriarch is Oscar-worthy, while Charlton Heston is ... well, Charlton Heston. Female leads Carroll Baker and Jean Simmons are contrasting frontier gals. The cinematography is magnificent, and everything is tied together by one of the greatest musical scores in any Western. From its soul-stirring opening sequence to rugged duels to a climactic shootout, The Big Country delivers a truly memorable motion picture experience.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'The Big Country' may be a B movie overdressed as an A with a Hatfield/McCoy rehash for a plot, but it's directed by spectacle king William Wyler, has solid star power, and is blessed with a truly memorable performance by Burl Ives as ironbound patriarch Rufus Hannassey. Chuck Connors never had a better role than no-good son Buck Hannassey---his leers and sneers are so villainous we wait for the piano music. Look for Alphonse (steenking batches) Bedoya in a nice minor role as a ranch hand to the elitist Terrell family. The scene where Terrell foreman Steve (Heston) yanks on his pants before his fight with McKay (Peck) must have inspired many a leg burn and pratfall by adolescent imitators after the movie came out. Like 'Magnificent Seven', the theme song is classic Big Western (and was adapted perfectly by the band Yes in the 70s).