Monday, November 26, 2012

The Big Country: A Western for Everyone

I'm not a fan of westerns, however, one of my favorite movies of all time is The Big Country, starring Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons, Carroll Baker, Charlton Heston, Burl Ives, Charles Bickford, and Chuck Connors.

This is a great film, with an amazing cast and an unforgettably awesome musical score!  I fell in love with this motion picture when I was in middle school--back in the days of the CBS late night movie.  Anybody out there remember those, or am I the only one?

I enjoyed The Big Country so much, that as an adult I purchased it on video--as you can tell, that was quite a few years ago.  I haven't gotten around to ordering it on DVD yet.

The setting of the story helped to inspire part of my upcoming novel, Masquerade: Book Two of the Unchained TrilogyMasquerade is not a western, but the hero and heroine of part one, Escape, eventually end up in California where they raise their family on a huge ranch.

The Big Country actually takes place in Texas (though filmed in California), as an easterner, the honorable Jim McKay (Gregory Peck), moves there to be with his fiance, Pat Terrill (Carroll Baker), whose family owns an enormous ranch.  In Masquerade, a New Yorker ventures to California in search of answers.

Although the plots aren't similar, (The Big Country focuses on two clans fighting over water rights, while Masquerade revolves around the revelation of true identities), I love the feel of the West portrayed in The Big Country.  Watching it inspired my writing, and Chuck Connors's bad guy, Buck Hannassey, inspired one of my characters.  And yes, I admit, I re-crafted a little of his dialogue for one of my scenes!

My kids love Chuck Connors in reruns of the Rifleman television show, but they'll probably hate him after watching The Big Country--he plays such an excellent dirt-bag. They'll hate Burl Ives too, the jovial grandfatherly folksinger of "Holly Jolly Christmas" and "Frosty the Snowman."  He plays Connors's father, a senior dirt-bag, and he did it so well, he won a best supporting actor Oscar!

Here's a great article at the Bijou Blog for some fun behind the scenes facts!

If you haven't seen The Big Country, it's worth renting--even if you don't like westerns!  It's actually based on on the serialized magazine novel Ambush at Blanco Canyon by Donald Hamilton.

Do you like westerns? Have you ever seen The Big Country?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!


Old Kitty said...

I have never seen Big Country but its wonderful to read who plays the baddies! Although not a fan of westerns too, I do like a few cult ones like High Noon and Johnny Guitar and all spaghetti westerns! Take care

William Kendall said...

I haven't seen it, but I have enjoyed Jerome Moross' score for the film.

Jennette Marie Powell said...

I've never seen The Big Country, but I love seeing where other authors get their inspirations. Especially since I'm reading Escape right now and really enjoying it!

Maria McKenzie said...

@Old Kitty: Spaghetti westerns are fun!

@William: I don't know what I like better, the music or the movie!

@Jennette: I'm so glad you're enjoying Escape! Be sure to rent The Big Country sometime--I'd classify it as more historical than Western.

Intangible Hearts said...

I'm not sure if I saw it, but knowing that my parents enjoyed westerns and they also liked Chuck Connors, I probably saw it a long, long time ago. My idea of a western used to have Clint or John Wayne, but I'd rather watch romance or comedy any day. Great post though and maybe I'll take a look if it comes on cable.

Maria said...

Bollywood - that is, the Indian film industry - have made some 'western' type films as well. They are known as 'curry westerns'. Interesting?

Maria McKenzie said...

@Eve: I'm sure you've seen it if your parents were Western fans. It's worth catching on cable!

@Maria: Very cool! I can only imagine;).

Michele said...

The Big Country is one of my all time favorite films!