Monday, November 24, 2008

The Big Country

William Wyler, 1958, 3 hours (7.6*)
The stars of this film are nearly overwhelmed by the panaromic scenery and symphonic music score, so this makes a perfect 70mm film for remastered dvd. Gregory Peck plays a former ship's captain coming to the prairie to marry the daugher (Carroll Baker) of a ranch owner, played by Charles Bickford, who's mired in water rights feud with his "trailer trash" neighbors, the Hennesseys, led by Burl Ives, in an Oscar winning supporting role. His evil son is perfectlly played by Chuck Conners (who knew?), and even Charlton Heston takes a supporting role as Bickfords ranch foreman. Schoolteacher Jean Simmons has inherited the key ranch in the area, which has the water everyone else needs to keep their cattle alive during droughts. Wyler, one of the best ever (Ben-Hur, Best Years of Our Lives, Little Foxes) makes long, thoughtful films, so don't expect lots of action and gunfighting, this is a more intellectual, leisurely paced, and personal film, and it's terrific in widescreen. One Oscar


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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