The Big Country

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Movie Details

William Wyler
Key Cast
Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons, Carroll Baker, Charlton Heston, Burl Ives, Charles Bickford, Alfonso Bedoya, Chuck Connors
MPAA Rating
Film Type
Western, Romance


Is Gregory Peck really a man or a coward in the “Big Country”?

Starring in “The Big Country” are Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston, Burl Ives and Jean Simmons.
When James McKay (Gregory Peck), a former sea captain from the East, arrives in the West to meet his soon-to-be wife’s family, he finds himself an unwilling participant in a family war over water rights.
Two wealthy cattle ranchers, Major Henry Terrill (Charles Bickford) and Rufus Hannassey (Burl Ives) are feuding over the water rights on land owned by Julie Maragon (Jean Simmons). Maragon doesn’t want to sell the land to either man, and thus pick sides, so she keeps ownership of the property hoping that the fight between the two families will eventually settle itself.
James McKay doesn’t want to pick sides either, which disturbs his soon-to-be father-in-law, Major Henry Terrill. McKay doesn’t believe that violence is the way to settle the feud which makes the other men on the ranch and his fiancée Patricia Terrill (Carroll Baker) question his manhood.
As his fiancée begins to question his love for her because he isn’t willing to fight like the other men, McKay finds himself in an increasingly difficult situation.
Is James McKay really a coward? Can the two families somehow figure out a way to live peaceably in “The Big Country”?

• The Terrill mansion that is featured in “The Big Country” was actually a special set that was built on the Samuel Goldwyn studio lot. At the time, it was one of the biggest sets ever built. The location scenes were shot in various parts of California including Red Rock Canyon in the Mojave Desert.
• “The Big Country” is based on a novel by Donald Hamilton named “Ambush at Blanco Canyon” that was serialized in The Saturday Evening Post in 1957. The original novel was never released as a book, but Donald Hamilton did later write a revised novel named “The Big Country” that was based on the story in this western.
• Jessamyn West wrote the script adaptation for “The Big Country.” William Wyler chose West to write the script for this movie, after having used him to help write the screenplay for “Friendly Persuasion,” another William Wyler movie with a pacifist theme. (In the movie “Friendly Persuasion,” the family are Quakers who are trying to live peaceful lives during the Civil War.)
• Director and producer William Wyler spent over $3 million on “The Big Country,” making it a huge epic western for its time. The money was a good investment because the movie made over $4 million at the distributor box office level the year it was released. It has since gone on to make millions of dollars more from rentals.
• “The Big Country” was reportedly one of President Eisenhower’s favorite films.

• Burl Ives won two major acting awards for his performance in “The Big Country.” He won the 1959 Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and the 1959 Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor.
• “The Big Country” was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music Scoring (Jerome Moross).
• William Wyler was nominated for a Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures.


The Big Country Movie DVD

Jealousy, hatred, rivalry makes “The Big Country” an action-packed western starring Gregory Peck, Burl Ives and Charlton Heston.

Burl Ives won a Best Actor Academy Award for his role as the feisty and stubborn ranch patriarch Rufus Hannassey.

Blu-ray Disc

The Big Country Blu-Ray Disc

Watch this larger-than-life western on your home television with high-quality Blu-ray.

This Blu-ray version also has the following bonus features:
Theatrical Trailer
TV Spot
Fun in the Country feature

Instant Download | Streaming

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Movie Poster

The Big Country Movie Poster

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1 Response to “The Big Country”

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  1. i have seen the movie,big country many times on the cinema in Iraq-Baghdad,so let me tell you that Gregory peck(james mckay)is not a coward man ,but he want to stop the fighting between the two families,and to share the water together,this goes to palastinian issue that jewis and arab should live in peace together by founding two states one for jew and other for arab,and let all live in peace that life is too short,finally hope to hear from others through my above email.many thanks

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