Heston doesn’t smile much in The Big Country. He’s the Major’s (Charles Bickford) hard-bitten boy – the son he never had – and his foreman. He’s cowboy tuff and cowboy gruff. He’s also plain unhappy that the girl he’s loved so long has saddled up with an Eastern greenhorn, Gregory Peck. It ‘sticks in his craw’ – Big time – and he’s not going to leave quietly …
As the film ends, Big transitions are in the offing. The battling patriarchs – Burl Ives and Charles Bickford – are dead – along with Ives’ troublesome son Buck (Chuck Connors). It’s seems a ‘given’ that Heston will become the new boss of the Major’s empire – alongside his proper partner Carroll Baker; while the Hannassey’s (Ives’ bunch) homestead is in disarray with no one at its helm; meanwhile the “Big Muddy” now rises under Gregory Peck and Jean Simmons.
As Peck and Simmons ride off into the sunset – we are sure that Heston and Carroll Baker will complete their own circle (though we don’t get to see it).
One wonders though, if there still isn’t an untold story on the horizon …
The only problem is: where do you find the players? – another cast like this?
The answer is …
In this 2002 file photo, Charlton Heston acknowledges applause at a benefit honoring him at the
National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
(Photo by Steve Sisney/The OklahomanArchives)