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The Big Sky [DVD]

3.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Kirk Douglas, Dewey Martin, Elizabeth Threatt, Arthur Hunnicutt, Buddy Baer
  • Directors: Howard Hawks
  • Language: English, French
  • Subtitles: French
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002J497E
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 93,043 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By Spike Owen TOP 500 REVIEWER on 28 Nov. 2010
Format: DVD
The Big Sky is directed by Howard Hawks and adapted by Dudley Nichols from the novel of the same name written by A.B. Guthrie Jr. It stars Kirk Douglas, Dewey Martin, Elizabeth Threatt & Arthur Hunnicutt. Dimitri Tiomkin scores the music and Russell Harlan photographs on location at Grand Teton National Park & Jackson Hole in Wyoming.

1832 and Jim Deakins (Douglas) & Boone Caudill (Martin) meet by chance out in the wilderness. Quickly bonding they travel to St Louis together to seek out Boone's Uncle Zeb (Hunnicutt). After finding him via a bar room brawl, the two men agree to join Zeb in a venture up the Missouri river to trade fur with the unpredictable Blackfoot Indians; their insurance against attack by the Blackfoot coming courtesy of Teal Eye (Thrett), a beautiful Blackfoot princess kidnapped years previously and now being returned home. Along the way the party have to battle nature, the Indian factions and also the Missouri Company out to topple their enterprise for fear of losing their monopoly on trade. Perhaps worse still is that the new found friendship between Boone & Jim will be tested by their mutual attraction to Teal Eye?

Given the credentials that come with The Big Sky, it's a little surprising that it's not more well known. Hawks, Douglas and Tiomkin speak for themselves, while Guthrie wrote the script for Shane and Nichols wrote the screenplay for John Ford's 1939 pulse raiser, Stagecoach. Add in that Hunnicutt and Harlan were Academy Award nominated for Best Support Actor and Cinematography respectively, well you have a fine bunch of professionals involved with this movie. So why so ignored or forgotten? The starting point should be with Hawks himself, who openly had issues with the finished product.
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It's unbelievable, in a digital age, that ANY film could possibly be format transfered, from original film elements, so badly preserved and presented without ANY attempt, clearly, at even minimal restoration! ~:~ I've seen second and third generation 'copies' that have been light years better than this, supposedly, studio approved mess. ~:~ Seen, today, on HD equipment emphasises the grainey and fuzzy images all the more and painful to even Attempt viewing, sadly!! ~:~ AVOID at ALL Costs!!! ~:~rdl::)
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By Bob Salter TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 13 April 2009
Format: DVD
It astounds me that a film directed by the legendary Howard Hawks can be so completely forgotten. The film was considered by many critics to be one of his lesser achievements. Hope was to be had when Jonathan Rosenbaum the respected American film critic selected it in his top 100 alternative American films.

"The Big Sky" is set in 1832 which was in the era of the American mountain man. This was a time when the West truly was untamed and small numbers of intrepid men trickled West into the wilderness to trap beaver and trade with the Indians. Famous names like Jim Bridger and Joe Walker who explored vast new tracts of land. They were the pathfinders of "Manifest Destiny". It was an exciting era that few films have covered. "Across the Wide Missouri"(51) with Clark Gable and "Jeremiah Johnson"(72) with Robert Redford are two of the better examples.

In the film Kirk Douglas plays Jim Deakins who when travelling in the wilderness meets Boone Caudill played by Dewey Martin. After initial hostility the two become firm friends and head West, where they join an expedition up the Missouri to trade with the Blackfoot Indians. This puts them in conflict and competition with the Missouri Company. The journey of 2,000 miles is by keelboat. On the way they encounter hostile Indians and a final bloody encounter with men from the Missouri Company. They also compete for the affections of Teal eye a beautiful Blackfoot woman. As winter draws in, one will stay in the teepee with Teal eye.

The film scores on many counts. The cinematography by Russel Harlen is very impressive. Kirk Douglas is in very fine form. There is a very funny scene where Douglas has a gangrenous finger amputated. Only Hawks could make such a scene funny, and Douglas played his part.
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Kirk joins the keelboat-men in Howard Hawks' epic adventure about fur-traders, dastardly monopolists and beguiling Blackfeet. He starts out amusingly like Ned Land in 20,000 LEAGUES with a song and a conk on the head but becomes increasingly brusque and modernistic perhaps to compensate for the fact that he's not the driving force here. Hawks makes him a team-player, sitting back on occasion to listen to other actors doing their thing and losing the Indian princess - the elegant Elizabeth Threatt - to his buddy, the far less engaging Dewey Martin. For a Hawks film it gets a little heavy with its constant emphasis on injury, impairment and sudden death but there's welcome humour from Arthur Hunnicutt's wonderfully droll Oscar-nominated performance as the yarn-spinning trail-guide. Russell Harlan's b/w photography and Dimitri Tiomkin's exquisite score augment the enterprise to fabulous effect. No DVD in the UK or the USA apparently so I snatched up the French import from Editions Montparnasse. There's some image-enhancement used, particularly in the night-scenes but it's done with precision. My old VHS version was marred by some muffling on the soundtrack which happily is nowhere evident here.
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