William Wyler’s last Western was filmed on a grand scale, in widescreen and almost three hours long.
James McKay (Gregory Peck) is the mild-mannered easterner, come west to marry a ranch lord’s daughter and getting caught up in a feud between the would-be patrician rancher and his ruffian neighbours.
Wyler’s use of the landscape is grandiose, satirising the attempts of westerners to match their surroundings with equally outsized gestures; an allegory of the Cold War isn’t hard to find.
Charlton Heston, Burl Ives and Jean Simmons head a rich supporting cast, and Jerome Moss contributes one of the all-time great movie scores.
The US President at the time, Dwight D. Eisenhower, screened the movie four times consecutively at the White House and called it “simply the best film ever made. My number one favourite film.”
Maj. Henry Terrill