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)
Director William Wyler has the distinction of having directed more actors to Oscar-nominated performances than any
other director in history: thirty-six.
Out of these nominees, fourteen went on to win Oscars.
Academy Award for Best Direction three times Ben Hur, The Best Years of Our Lives, and Mrs. Miniver
“I made over forty Westerns. I used to lie awake nights trying to think up new ways of getting on and off a horse.”
Wyler’s Western Filmography (Partial)
People laugh at these old Westerns from the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s – but that’s where we came from – and where Wyler paid his dues – and went on to become one of the most celebrated Directors in Movie history.
Friendly Persuasion (1956 – Gary Cooper and Dorothy McGuire) / The Westerner Starring (1940 – Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan) / The Storm (1930) Written by John Huston / Hell’s Heroes (Charles Bickford)1929 / Thunder Riders (1928) / The Border Cavalier (1927) / Daze of the West (1927) / The Horse Trader (1927) / The Square Shooter (1927) / The Phantom Outlaw (1927) / Gun Justice (1927) / The Home Trail (1927) / The Ore Raiders (1927) / The Lone Star (1927) / Hard Fists (1927) / The Haunted Homestead (1927) / Galloping Justice (1927) / Shooting Straight (1927) / Blazing Days (1927) / The Silent Partner (1927) / Tenderfoot Courage (1927) / Kelcy Gets His Man (1927) / The Two Fister (1927) / The Stolen Ranch (1926) / The Pinnacle Rider (1926) / Lazy Lightning (1926) / Martin of the Mounted (1926) / The Gunless Bad Man (1926) / Stolen Ranch (1926) / The Crook Buster (1925)