When sea-captain Jim McKay (Gregory Peck) forgoes a life on the ocean waves and travels west to claim his bride Patricia Terrill (Carroll Baker), he finds more trouble than he bargained for. The Terrill clan are embroiled in a bitter feud over water rights with a rival family headed by Rufus Hannassey (Burl Ives). Both clans want access to land which belongs to Julie Maragon (Jean Simmons), and as their squabbling escalates, Jim and Julie find themselves caught up in the middle, doing their best to calm things down.
William Wyler directed this epic Western, about the clash of East and West, intellect and action. Gregory Peck stars as a sea captain who moves way out West to marry Carroll Baker and become part of the ranch owned by her father (Charles Bickford). But he discovers that daddy's top hand (Charlton Heston) carries a torch for Baker and doesn't particularly like Peck stepping into his place. Peck also finds himself caught in the midst of a power struggle between Bickford and his surly neighbour, Burl Ives (and his reprehensibly bullying son, Chuck Connors). The Big Country
is a long, sprawling tale that works because its characters are played by movie stars who know how to command the big screen in a big story. --Marshall Fine