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A Monument to Love.,
This review is from: Duel In The Sun  [DVD] (DVD)"Duel in the Sun" stands like a many hued monolith floating forgotten in time and space, a vast monolith to one mans giant ego and the deification of his love. Some men left huge monuments on earth to such love, that will slowly fall to dust over the aeons. David O Selznick that Hollywood giant wrote the script and produced the film, all to showcase the beauty and talent of his second wife Jennifer Jones. The film which is also commonly remembered as "Lust in the Dust", is an exotic hymn to excess and melodrama. So much so that it is unique among westerns. The closest thing it resembles in style and energy is "Gone with the Wind", which was an ode to Selznick's first wife Irene, and can now be seen as a companion piece. Amazing what a fickle creature love can be!
The story features Peck and Cotton as Cain and Abel brothers fighting for the affections of the beautiful half blooded Mestiza, Pearl Chavez. They also fight against their crippled patriarchal father Lionel Barrymore, who sees his cattle empire threatened with the coming of the railroad. Pearl wants to be a good girl, but she just can't help herself. She is drawn to the dark side and the dubious charms of Peck's very bad Lewt McCandles. Straight laced good brother Joseph Cotton has no chance. We head to one of the most preposterous and melodramatic screen endings of all time. Almost so bad it has to be good. Move over all those Japanese Godzilla movies!
Jennifer Jones gives a totally demented performance as the girl torn between good and evil, and eventually but unsurprisingly succumbs to her passions. Selznick with huge reservoirs of manic energy held the whole creaking giant together. King Vidor directs with a sultry vision that led to moral outrage on the films release. It also helped it become the most commercially successful western of all time. Nothing like a whiff of scandal to help the box office receipts! The rest of the cast is a who's who of Hollywood acting legends of the time. Walter Huston, Lillian Gish, Charles Bickford and that early screen cowboy hero Harry Carey also memorably appear.
The film contains many delirious scenes. Perhaps my favourite being when Huston tries to preach the devil out of Pearl. You just know it ain't going to work. The ending, well you will just have to see that for yourself. No it is not a classic or a masterpiece, but it is certainly very, very unique. We shall certainly not see its like again methinks. For its sheer overwhelming bravado this film has to be worth four stars. Fasten your seat belts its gonna be a bumpy ride!