Thursday, July 22, 2010

Duel in the Sun. A

Duel in the Sun is a wonderful movie not just because of its complexity and haunting style, but because it has the audacity to be distinguisable from any other Western. I loved how the desolate characters were juxtaposed with the vibrant sun that bounces off the Texas landscape. Their souls may be dead, but the land they live in is one of the most beautiful things I've seen. The cinematography here is truly stunning, like pictures you'd see in one of those scenic calendars. On paper this would look like a typcial classic Western: 1946, technicolor, produced by David O. Selznick (Gone with the Wind), cast including Gregory Peck, Jennifer Jones, and Joseph Cotten. And yet this is such a strange and mysterious movie and probably nearly as controversial upon its release as Howard Hughes' The Outlaw was. In short, the movie is about a beautiful woman named Pearl who goes to live on a Texas ranch where two brothers (Peck and Cotton) battle for her attention and love. Peck is the most surprising thing about the movie because he plays such a savage hound, wheras Cotton is the peaceful, dignified gentleman. Pearl sees the good brother and likes him, but her wild side, her true side, always brings her back to Peck's character. Their relationship is the most interesting thing about the movie. There are a lot of devlopments in the plot, some very surprising, but I won't spoil them. I will say that the characters of Pearl and Peck are destined to be together, and more, which you will find out in the climactic shootout. The ending is perhaps the greatest closing of any movie I've seen. Duel in the Sun (what a great title), directed by King Vidor (what a great, epic-sounding name) is a classic and one that gloriously infuses romance, style, beauty, and the mysticism of the West in the days where you could carry a gun and shoot anything or anyone.

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