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The Big Country

Director: William Wyler Run Time: 165 min. Format: 35mm Rating: PG Release Year: 1958

Starring: , Burl Ives, Carroll Baker, Charles Bickford, Charlton Heston, Chuck Connors, Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons

Part of the VICE Presents: The Film Foundation Screening Series at Nitehawk Cinema. A New Englander heads out the Old West where he becomes involved in a territory dispute involving two hot-tempered families. Recorded intro by Joe Lindner!

Land, family, romance, and violent conflict resolution: these are the essentials for the American country-western genre and they are explored in epic proportions in William Wyler’s The Big CountyIncluding an all-star cast, The Big Country tells of a retired and wealthy sea captain James McKay (Gregory Peck) who arrives in the immensely vast landscape of the west to marry fiancee Pat Terrill (Carroll Baker). His way of life is certainly foreign to those on the ranch which, naturally, extends to the locals such as the cocksure foreman Steve Leech (Charlon Heston) who take a strong dislike to him. In addition to being a fish out of water, he finds his future family-in-law helmed by Major Henry Terrill (Burl Ives) involved in a civil war over water right for their cattle. Although McKay distances himself from the drama at the home of schoolmarm Julia Maragon (Jean Simmons) he finds himself compelled to action when she’s kidnapped over the continuous land wars.

Charlton Heston said, “America was made for Westerns,” and like all good westerns this film confronts the violence and the greed upon which our great nation was formed. Amongst the backdrop of composer Jerome Moross’ score, The Big Country is as big, wide, and colorful as America itself.

*A portion of each ticket sale goes towards The Film Foundation. Tickets also include complimentary Larceny Bourbon drinks at a pre-party in Nitehawk’s downstairs bar starting at 8pm! 

THE BIG COUNTRY (1958, dir. William Wyler)
Restored by the Academy Film Archive with funding provided by The Film Foundation.

Print courtesy of The Film Foundation Conservation Collection at the Academy Film Archive and Park Circus Limited.