Friday, February 11, 2022

Gregory Peck: Five Westerns-Five Different Characters

Gregory Peck's Sixth On-Screen Appearance was in a Controversial Western! This is a look at that motion picture and four other strong Western roles the actor portrayed between 1946 and 1958. I could have selected other Westerns, such as 1969's "Mackenna's Gold", or, 1974's "Billy Two Hats", but I believe these five best illustrate the full-range of Gregory Peck's acting and, I admit, they are favorites of mine.

DUEL IN THE SUN released December 30, 1946

The motion picture would earn the nickname: "Lust in the Dust!"

This was a project of producer David O. Selznick. His last feature film release was Alfred Hitchcock's 1945 "Spellbound" co-starring Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck. Selznick would follow this picture with Alfred Hitchcock's 1947 "The Paradine Case" co-starring Gregory Peck, Ann Todd, and Charles Laughton. 

Let's talk director, on the motion picture screen the audience saw the name King Vidor. It had been two-years since his last motion picture, 1944's "An American Romance" co-starring Brian Donlevy and Ann Richards had been released. Vidor would follow this picture with a comedy musical romance, 1948's "On Our Merry Way" co-starring Paulette Goddard, Burgess Meredith, and James Stewart.

On the face of things, everything seemed normal. However, King Vidor became upset with what he believed was producer David O. Selznick's constant interference as it pertained to leading lady Jennifer Jones. Who happened to be the producer's mistress and the added fact that Selznick had visions of creating another film epic to equal his earlier 1939 "Gone with the Wind", so, King Vidor walked off the unfinished motion picture!

As with director Victor Fleming on "GWTW", David O. Selznick brought in a team of six other directors to finish shooting the motion picture! 

The six were, Otto Brower, who had been directing since 1928 and this was his last motion picture. William Dieterle, had directed Jennifer Jones in 1945's "Love Letters", while, Sidney Franklin, directed 1937's "The Good Earth" and had been nominated for an "Academy Award", William Cameron Menzies, was the production designer on "GWTW" and directed the burning of Atlanta sequence. Josef von Sternberg, directed Marlene Dietrich in the original German language 1930 "The Blue Angel", and the sixth director was David O. Selznick, himself.

Some film sites also add Unit Managers Glenn Cook and William McGarry to the uncredited director's list. Bringing the total director for "Duel in the Sun" to nine!

The screenplay was suggested by the 1944 Southwestern novel, "Duel in the Sun", by Niven Busch.

Above the cover of the reissued motion picture tie-in version and below the end papers for that edition.

Oliver H.P. Garrett adapted the novel. In 1932 he had adapted Ernest Hemmingway's "A Farewell to Arms" for the Helen Hayes and Cary Cooper motion picture. Garrett also adapted the Charles Nordoff and James Norman Hall novel "The Hurricane" for director John Ford's 1937 motion picture, and of course he worked without credit on 1939's "GWTW".

The actual screenplay is credited to David O. Selznick. As a screenplay writer, just before this motion picture, Selznick wrote the one for 1944's "Since You Went Away" that co-starred Claudette Colbert, Jennifer Jones, and Joseph Cotton. He followed this feature by writing the screenplay for Hitch's 1947 "The Paradine Case". 

Trivia: using the name "Oliver Jeffries", David O. Selznick suggested to "Universal Pictures" the story for the studios sequel to Todd Browning's 1931 "Dracula", 1936's Lesbian vampire story, "Dracula's Daughter".

However, Ben Hecht is an uncredited writer on the screenplay. Hecht had just written the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock's 1946 "Notorious" co-starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. After this motion picture he wrote screenplay for 1947's "Kiss of Death" co-starring Victor Mature, Brian Donlevy, and Coleen Gray. That Film-Noir contained a cold-blooded killer played by Richard Widmark in his first on-screen appearance.

Jennifer Jones portrayed "Pearl Chavez". Her previous motion picture was produced and directed by Ernst Lubitsch, the 1946 comedy romance "Cluny Brown" co-starring Charles Boyer and Peter Lawford. The actress followed this film with director William Dieterle's mystery fantasy, 1948's "Portrait of Jennie" co-starring Joseph Cotton and Ethel Barrymore.

Gregory Peck portrayed "Lewton 'Lewt' McCanles". Peck's previous film was based upon the Pulitzer Prize Winning novel by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, 1946's "The Yearling", co-starring Jane Wyman and Claude Jarman, Jr. He would follow this picture with 1947's "The Macomber Affair" based upon an Ernest Hemmingway short story and co-starring Joan Bennett and Robert Preston.

Joseph Cotton portrayed "Jesse McCanles". Cotton had just appeared opposite Jennifer Jones in director William Dieterle's 1945 "Love Letters". He would follow this feature with the comedy romance, 1947's "The Farmer's Daughter" co-starring with Loretta Young and Ethel Barrymmore.

Lionel Barrymore portrayed "Senator Jackson McCanles". Barrymore had a supporting role in 1946's "The Secret Heart" starring Claudette Colbert, Walter Pidgeon, and June Allyson. He followed this picture with another appearance in the "Dr. Kildare" movie series, but without "Dr. Kildare". He still played "Dr. Gillespie", in 1947's "Dark Delusion" co-starring with James Craig and Lucille Bremer.

Herbert Marshall portrayed "Scott Chavez". He was one of six co-stars with Tyrone Power, Gene Tierney, John Payne, Anne Baxter and Clifton Webb, in the 1946 version of author W. Somerset Maugham's novel, "The Razor's Edge".  Marshall followed this film co-starring with Joan Fontaine and Patric Knowles in 1947's "Ivy".

Lilian Gish portrayed "Laura Belle McCanles". Miss Gish was just seen in 1946's "Miss Susie Slagle's" starring Veronica Lake, Sonny Tufts, and Joan Caulfield. She would follow this picture with 1948's "Portrait of Jennie".

Walter Huston portrayed "Mr. Jubal Crabbe, The Sinkiller". Huston had just co-starred with Gene Tierney, Vincent Price, and Glenn Langan in 1946's "Dragonwyck", and followed this feature with his son, director John Huston's 1948 classic, "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" co-starring with Humphrey Bogart, Tim Holt, and Bruce Bennett. 

I want to point out five members of the supporting cast.

Charles Bickford portrayed "Sam Pierce". He was just featured in the Alice Faye, Dana Andrews, and Linda Darnell 1945's "Fallen Angel". Bickford followed this motion picture with 1947's "The Farmer's Daughter"

Harry Carey portrayed "Lem Smoot". Carey had been a Western actor since the silent era and had just co-starred with Paul Kelly in one of the last American propaganda films during the Second World War, 1945's "China's Little Devils". Carey would next be seen in director Elia Kazan's 1947 Western, "Sea of Grass" starring Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Robert Walker, and Melvyn Douglas. 

Above, Harry Carey is on the lower right, to his left is Otto Kruger portraying "Mr. Langford. Kruger's career included co-starring with Gloria Holden's in the classic 1936 "Dracula's Daughter" and co-starred with Edward G. Robinson and Ruth Gordon in 1940's "Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet". Kruger had roles in Alfred Hitchcock's 1942 "Saboteur", and 1944's "Murder My Sweet" starring Dick Powell as Raymond Chandler's "Philip Marlowe" and co-starring Claire Trevor and Anne Shirley.

Joan Tetzel portrayed "Helen Langford". Tetzel was a stage actress and her on-screen career between this, her first motion picture, and her last, an episode of Angie Dickinson's 1976 television series "Police Woman", totaled 24. 

Butterfly McQueen portrayed "Vashti". African American actress McQueen is mostly remembered for her overly stereotyped supporting role of "Prissy" in 1939's "Gone with the Wind". The actress was anything but "Prissy". She was just seen in an uncredited role in 1945's "Mildred Pierce" starring Joan Crawford, Jack Carson, and Zachary Scott. She followed this picture with the African American 1948, musical comedy "Killer Diller".

Also found on the list of "Uncredited Roles" was the narrator, Orson Welles. He was between films, 1946's "The Stranger" co-starring with Loretta Young and Edward G. Robinson, and 1947's "The Lady from Shanghai" co-starring with Rita Hayworth and Everett Sloane.

The Basic Screenplay:

As originally shot, the motion picture couldn't pass the "Motion Picture Production Code". Which was being monitored by Joseph Breen of the "Hays Office", and designed to protect American morality. "The Catholic League of Decency" added their concerns and the motion picture was heavily edited to meet both party's demands. 

Even after those edits, the remaining film still had a running time of two-hours-and-twenty-five minutes. Further, in some states that edited version was re-edited further by local censor boards and after showing, the edited sections were restored and the print sent on its way. 

The film opens with the murder of "Pearl Chavez's" mother by her father "Scott Chavez", because he caught her with a lover. Prior to his execution, "Chavez" is able to arrange for his daughter to go and live with his cousin and old sweetheart, "Laura Belle McCanles" in Texas.

"Pearl" arrives by stagecoach and is met by the older and gentlemanly "McCanles" son, "Jessie". He takes her to "Spanish Bit", the extremely large "McCanles" family ranch.

At "Spanish Bit", "Pearl" is welcomed by "Laura Belle", but her husband, wheelchair bound, "Senator Jackson McCanles" is anything but pleased to meet her. He out-right calls "Pearl" "half-breed" and sets the racist undertone of the story.

I would mention that the character of "Senator McCanles" was not in a wheelchair in the novel, but was rewritten because Lionel Barrymore needed to use one.

"Pearl" finally meets the "McCanles" second son, a direct opposite of "Jesse". "Lewt" is a lady's man, gambler, says and does whatever he wants, because he is a "McCanles" and no one will challenge him.

"Pearl" takes an immediate dislike to the brash "Lewt McCanles", who expresses in direct terms his interest in her as a sexual partner in words rewritten to make them acceptable to Joseph Breen and the "Catholic League".

Learning of "Lewt's" interest in the young woman she has promised to take care of and raise. "Laura Belle" calls in the gun-toting preacher, "Jubal Crabbe", known as "The Sinkiller", to teach "Pearl" how to remain "a good girl" like she claims to be.

Orson Welles narration tells the viewer that the story takes place in 1880's Texas. Above, one of the means to help "Pearl" is the use of an "Egyptian Magic Coin". A minor mistake in the screenplay as the coins didn't start to be sold until 1905.

However, "Laura Belle" is shocked to find "Pearl" naked under a blanket in the room with the "Sinkiller" as part of his teaching.

Both "McCanles" sons are interested in "Pearl"!

However, one night "Pearl" gives into "Lewt's" aggressive advances, but regrets it the following morning.

As I said, this was only Gregory Peck's sixth motion picture and the role of "Lewt McCanles" was in stark contrast to his role of a loving father in 1946's "The Yearling" that directly proceeded it, or the young priest in China, in his second motion picture, 1944's "Keys to the Kingdom". However, the ladies in the audiences were reportedly attracted to Peck's sexiness. A problem with American morality that Breen and the "Catholic League" could not control.

Against his father's interests, "Jesse McCanles" looking to the future of Texas, has sided with the railroad representative "Mr. Langford". The Senator now tells his son that he is no long part of the family and has no right to be on at "Spanish Bit". 

"Jesse" leaves for Austin to pursue a political career, meets and marries "Helen Langford".


"Lewt" still is trying anything to get "Pearl" to cave-in to him, but she maintains the she's a good girl.

Finally, "Lewt" promises "Pearl" that the two will soon be married.

However, he reneges on the promise of marriage and the offended "Pearl Chavez" seeks a way to get even with "Lewt". There is a local rancher named "Sam Pierce", who can't get "Pearl" out of his mind, and she plans to use him as the means of revenge. "Pearl" doesn't love "Sam", but says yes to his proposal of marriage.

Before "Pearl Chavez" and "Sam Pierce" can be married,"Lewt" enters the local saloon, goads him into a fight, and very expertly guns "Sam" down!

Going to "Pearl" he insists that she can only belong to him and leaves "Spanish Bit" a wanted man. Even on the run from the law, on several late nights, "Lewt" returns and enters "Pearl's" room and she cannot hide her desire for him. The sheriff comes looking for "Lewt"  and asks "Pearl" if she knows his whereabouts? She lies to  him, the Senator, and "Laura Belle" while hiding "Lewt" in her room.

After "Pearl" has protected him from both the law and his own family. "Lewt McCanles" calmly walks out on "Pearl Chavez" as she pleads her undying love for him. 

Age and health have caught up with "Laura Belle McCanles" and she is dying. After all their years together, the Senator admits he has always loved her as his wife passes away. 

"Jesse" and his wife arrive for a visit and find out his mother has passed away. His father and his brother, who is on "Spanish Bite", still will have nothing to do with him. This family feud now results in the inevitable showdown between "Jesse" and "Lewt".

"Lewt" tosses "Jesse" a handgun, but his brother refuses to pick it up and stands his ground. "Jesse" gives his brother a warning that he will eventually be caught and hanged as a murderer. In response, "Lewt" shoots "Jesse" and leaves.

The "Senator's" close friend "Lem Smoot" tells him the wound to "Jesse" is not mortal, reconsidering his life 
"Senator Jackson McCanles" softens up, and his feud with his son ends. "Pearl" is glad that "Jesse" will survive the shooting by "Lewt". "Helen McCanles" now arrives by train and befriends "Pearl", whom she invites to leave "Spanish Bit" forever and come with her and "Jesse" to Austin.

One of the ranch hands tips off "Pearl" that "Lewt" plans to come after "Jesse" again. The screenplay has reached the point that turned the title from "Duel in the Sun" to "Lust in the Dust".

"Pearl Chavez" arms herself, takes a horse, and goes after "Lewton 'Lewt' McCanles" in the desert.

"Pearl" finds "Lewt" and begins a shoot-out with the man she really loves. 

In the end "Pearl Chavez" and "Lewt McCanles" will die in each other's arms.

YELLOW SKY released on December 22, 1948

This is a very interesting and seemingly overlooked Western with a more interesting cast.

The producer and screenplay writer was the same person, Lamar Trotti. As both producer and screenplay writer, Trotti's double duty work prior to this feature film included, 1942's "The Oxbow Incident" starring Henry Fonda and Dana Andrews, 1943's "Immortal Sergeant" starring Henry Fonda and Maureen  O'Hara, 1945's "A Bell for Adano" starring Gene Tierney, John Hodiak, and William Bendix, and 1947's "Captain from Castle" starring Tyrone Power, Jean Peters, and Cesar Romero.

The screenplay was based upon an unpublished novel by W.R. Burnett of the same title. Burnett was basically a screenplay writer who also wrote novels. Among his screenplays were both classic crime films, 1930's "Little Caesar" starring Edgar G. Robinson, and the original 1932 "Scarface" starring Paul Muni and Ann Dvorak. Additionally he wrote the 1940 Civil War era "Dark Command" that starred Claire Trevor, John Wayne, and Walter Pidgeon, and featured a unknown Roy Rodgers. Along with 1941's "High Sierra" starring Ida Lupino, and Humphrey Bogart.

This motion picture was directed by William "Wild Bill" Wellman. He earned the nickname while flying for the French Air Force during the First World War. In 1927 Wellman directed the first motion picture, "Wings", to receive the "Academy Award for Best Picture". Among his films prior to this one is, 1931's "Public Enemy" starring James Cagney, the 1932 version of authoress Edna Ferber's "So Big" starring Barbara Stanwyck, and George Brent, the original 1937 "A Star is Born" starring Janet Gaynor, and Fredric March, and 1942's "The Ox-Bow Incident". My article, "William A. 'Wild Bill' Wellman: '3' with John Wayne: 'Island in the Sky', 'The High and the Mighty', and 'Blood Alley" will be found at:

William A. Wellman requested cinematographer Joseph MacDonald, John Ford's 1946 "My Darling Clementine", and 1948's "Call Northside 777", to film the motion picture. The majority of the screenplay takes place in "Death Valley, California", and Wellman wanted the picture shot in stark black and white to play off the contrast of the dark shadows and extremely bright desert sun light and MacDonald was the perfect choice.

Gregory Peck portrayed "James 'Stretch' Dawson". Peck had just appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Paradine Case", and would follow this feature with a major box office flop, 1949's "The Great Sinner". Which was based upon Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky's 1866 "The Gambler". The motion picture co-starred Ava Gardner, and Melvyn Douglas and according to the credited director, Robert Siodmak, there were two problems for him. The screenplay was enormous in size, but the studio ignored his questions about that fact and Gregory Peck wanted it left alone. Peck was playing a role in a film based upon the work of a great Russian author and was impressed by that. The picture ran three-hours after filming ended and Siodmak was told to reduce the time, he cut the story to two-hours-and-ten-minutes. The studio complained it was still too long and wanted Siodmak to cut out more. He refused and the studio had director Mervyn LeRoy cut twenty more minutes from Siodmak's cut. It was a mess and the film critics panned both the film and Peck's performance. The actor would redeem himself with the World War Two motion picture that followed, 1949's "Twelve O'Clock High".

Anne Baxter portrayed "Mike (Constance Mae)". Baxter had just appeared in 1948's "Luck of the Irish" co-starring with Tyrone Power, and followed this feature with 1949's "You're My Everything" co-starring Dan Dailey.

Richard Widmark portrayed "Dude". Widmark had just co-starred with Ida Lupino, Cornel Wilde, and Celeste Holm in the Film-Noir 1948's "Road House". The actor followed this feature co-starring with Lionel Barrymore and Dean Stockwell in 1949's "Down to the Sea in Ships".

Robert Arthur portrayed "Bull Run". Arthur had just been seen in the 1949 Family Western "Green  Grass of Wyoming" co-starring with Peggy Cummins, and Charles Coburn. He followed this feature with the romantic comedy 1949's "Mother Is a Freshman" starring Loretta Young, Van Johnson, and Rudy Vallee. 

John Russell portrayed "Lengthy". The future "Marshall Dan Troop" on televisions "Lawman", had just been seen in the family comedy 1948's "Sitting Pretty" starring Robert Young, Maureen O'Hara, and Clifton Webb. Russell followed this picture with the Richard Widmark, Linda Darnell, and Veronica Lake 1949 "Slattery's Hurricane".

Harry Morgan portrayed "Half Pint". The future "Colonel Sherman T. Potter" on televisions "M.A.S.H." had been in William Wellman's 1942 "The Ox-Bow Incident", and just was seen in the forgotten Film-Noir, 1948's "The Saxon Charm" starring Robert Montgomery, Susan Hayward, and John Payne. He would follow this film with 1949's "Down to the Sea in Ships".

James Barton portrayed "Grandpa". Character actor Barton had fifth billing in director Henry Hathaway's 1941 remake of "Shephard of the Hills" starring John Wayne, Betty Field, and Harry Carey. Between that picture and this one, he was in 1948's "The Time of Your Life" starring James Cagney, William Bendix, Wayne Morris, and Jeanne Cagney. He followed this movie with 1950's "The Daughter of Rosie O'Grady" co-starring with June Haver, and Gordon MacRae.

Charles Kemper portrayed "Walrus". Character actor Kemper's work includes the Zachery Scott, Bette Field, and J. Carrol Naish usually overlooked 1945 "The Southerner". Which was about tenant cotton workers in the South and was directed by French director Jean Renior. Prior to this picture, Kemper was in 1948's "Belle Starr's Daughter" starring George Montgomery, Rod Cameron, and Ruth Roman. He followed this feature with 1949's "Adventure in Baltimore" starring Robert Young, Shirley Temple, and her husband John Agar.

Charles Kemper's "Walrus" is in front of the group in the following photo.

The Basic Screenplay:

The story is familiar to any fan of Westerns, but under the capable hands of screenwriter Trotti and director Wellman it becomes something more.

The year is 1867, and a gang of outlaws led by "James 'Stretch' Dawson" are in a saloon of a small California town, and being waited upon by the bartender, played by Victor Kilian. 

In the above shot of "Stretch's" gang, at the bar is Paul Hurst, as the unrelated drunk in the Union soldier's hat.

The gang now robs the bank and will be chased by soldiers to the edge of Death Valley.

The soldiers stop following when "Stretch" takes his gang toward the deep desert.

The gang now comes upon the ghost town of the film's title, "Yellow Sky".

Next, "Stretch" and his gang spot an old run-down house and out of it comes a young woman with a rifle. He tells his men to wait, goes to speak to the girl, and discovers she is called "Mike" and is as tough as her male nickname might imply. They are joined by her grandfather and "Stretch" agrees that he and his men will remain in the ghost town until they're able to ride out in a couple of days.

For Gregory Peck's second Western, the viewer might want to compare the leader of a gang of outlaws and bank robbers to "Lewt McCanles". However, that comparison should not be made, because this role is the antithesis of "Lewt" as will be discovered by the viewer. "James Dawson" is an honorable man forced by circumstances into becoming an outlaw and Peck's plays him with a restrained intensity.

While "Stretch's" men are recovering at a nearby spring, the gambler "Dude", starts to snoop around, questioning why an old man and his granddaughter would be in the middle of Death Valley in an old ghost town? He discovers that "Mike's" grandfather is a prospector and has a gold mine. "Dude" goes to "Stretch" and tells him, but is surprised that the other doesn't care and isn't interested.

"Mike" and "Grandpa" are concerned about two things, the first is the gang now knows about his gold mine, but more importantly "Dude" is making a move to take the gang over. The two, unseen, go up into the hills for protection and watch what happens next. "Mike" observes "Stretch" and "Dude" in a heated confrontation and when 'Dude" seems to be pushing some issue, she shoots between them, causing the two to take cover. The gang starts shooting back and "Grandpa" is wounded in the leg by a ricochet, forcing "Mike", who hoped to drive them off, to surrender.

Back in the house, "Grandpa" is forced to split his already mined gold worth about $50,000 and any more the gang gets out of his gold mine. 

"Mike" goes to the spring to get water and "Lengthy" comes over and starts to force himself on her. "Bull Run" sees what's happening and goes to "Mike's" rescue, but "Lengthy" gets the upper hand and forces the young outlaw's face under the water, "Stretch" arrives, frees "Bull Run" and pushes "Lengthy's" face under the same water almost drowning him.

That night a cleaned up "James Dawson" approaches "Mike" and her "Grandpa" and promises on a bible to keep to his end of their original bargain. However, "Dude" is at a window listening and not liking what he is hearing. 

"Mike" is falling for "James Dawson" as he is for her.

The next morning while the gang works the mine, Apaches arrive worrying "Stretch" and his men, but they speak to "Grandpa" and leave. He explains to "Stretch" that they are his friends and have returned to the reservation avoiding a major confrontation the bank robbers could not win.

"Stretch" goes to the others and explains what "Grandpa" told the Apaches and emphasizes that they will keep the bargain and share the gold from the mine. However, "Dude" has already convinced the rest of the gang to take all the gold. He draws his gun and a shootout begins with "Stretch" against everyone else.

"Mike" starts shooting at the others, gets to a wounded "James Dawson" and manages to get him back into the house. Afraid that "Stretch" will come after each of them, the gang surrounds the house intending to kill the three people inside.

During the gunfight that follows, the gang believes "Stretch" has been killed. Now, "Dude" reveals his true intentions of having all the gold for himself and shoots at "Lengthy", but misses. "Dude" now fatally wounds "Bull Run" and goes after "Lengthy" in the ghost town. Discovering that "Stretch" is still alive, "Walrus" and 'Half Pint" decide to help him, but "Stretch" now heads for the ghost town and what will be a deadly three-way shootout in the old saloon. 

When "Mike" arrives at the saloon she finds an unconscious, but still breathing "James 'Stretch' Dawson" and the other two men dead. The picture ends with "Stretch", "Half Pint" and "Walrus" returning the bank's money and joining "Mike" and her "Grandfather" waiting at a wagon and the five ride off with the gold. 

The film critics made thought the ending ridiculous, but the audience thought otherwise.

THE GUNFIGHTER released on June 23, 1950

Sometimes fact get mixed with fiction, and fiction gets mixed with fact.

Most fans of Western motion pictures know director John Ford's 1962 "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" with the classic line:
This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

Unless you're a hardcore Western movie fan, you probably have never heard of 1950's "The Gunfighter" and the fact it predates Ford's picture by 12-years. Unlike Dorothy M. Johnson's 1953 short story that Ford's movie was based upon. This motion picture was supposed to be loosely based upon real life Gunfighter Johnny Ringo and the original story outline was written by director Andre De Toth for "Columbia Pictures". The role was also planned for John Wayne, who would appear in the John Ford classic, but turned it down because of the way studio owner Harry Cohn had treated him as a young actor. So, Cohn sold De Toth's treatment to "20th Century Fox".

Darryl F. Zanuck turned the project over to producer and screenplay writer Nunnally Johnson. Johnson gave Andre De Toth's story outline to "B" Western writer, William Bowers. He had written two 1948 Westerns co-starring Yvonne de Carlo and Dan Duryea, "Black Bart" and "River Lady". He also wrote 1949's "The Gal Who Took the West" starring de Carlo, and Scott Brady. William Sellers was assigned to co-write the screenplay and a young script consultant, on his first motion picture assignment, by the name of Roger Corman.

The motion picture was directed by Henry King. King's latest motion picture was 1949's "12 O'Clock High" starring Gregory Peck and he would follow this film with 1951's "David and Bathsheba" starring Gregory Peck and Susan Hayward.

Gregory Peck portrayed "Jimmy Ringo". Peck had just been seen in Henry King's "12 O'Clock High", and would follow this picture by crossing "the pond" and starring in American director Raoul Walsh's version of British author C.S. Forester's 1951, "Captain Horatio Hornblower".

Above, Gregory Peck as "Jimmy Ringo". Darryl F. Zanuck and many of the executives at "20th Century Fox" objected to  Peck's mustache, but the real Johnny Ringo is seen in the following photograph with a even larger mustache.


Helen Westcott portrayed "Peggy Walsh". Westcott came from an acting family and started in uncredited small motion picture roles at age 10. Of the five motion pictures prior to "The Gunfighter" that Helen Westcott appeared in, four roles are without credit and the credited role was at 9th billing.

Millard Mitchell portrayed "Marshall Mark Strett". Character actor Mitchell had just appeared in 1949's "12 O'Clock High", and would follow this feature with the James Stewart Western, 1950's "Winchester '73".

Jean Parker portrayed "Molly". The "B" actress had started appearing mainly on television shows at the time she made this motion picture.

Karl Malden portrayed "Mac". Malden had bookended this motion picture with appearances on two television anthology series. The first with 9th billing in a production of "Little Women", on "The Ford Theatre Hour", and with 6th billing in "Anything But Love", on the "Armstrong Circle Theatre". 

Skip Homeier portrayed "Hunt Bromley". The actor co-starred in an episode of the forgotten television anthology series "The Silver Theatre", entitled, "Lucky Pierre", and followed this picture with the Richard Widmark and Jack Palance 1950 Second World War feature, "Halls of Montezuma".

Richard Jaeckel portrayed "Eddie". Jaeckel had appeared in John Wayne's 1949 "Sands of Iwo Jima", and followed this picture with the 1950 Western "Wyoming Mail".

The Basic Screenplay:

From the above main cast my reader might think this is a "B" Western that somehow an "A" List actor wondered into, but that is the misconception of the "Academy Award" nominated screenplay and the performances of that cast. "New York Times" film critic Bosley Crowther, on June 24, 1950, described the picture this way:

The addicts of Western fiction may find themselves rubbing their eyes and sitting up fast to take notice before five minutes have gone by in Twentieth Century Fox's The Gunfighter, which came to the Roxy yesterday. For suddenly they will discover that they are not keeping company with the usual sort of hero of the commonplace Western at all. Suddenly, indeed, they will discover that they are in the exciting presence of one of the most fascinating Western heroes as ever looked down a six-shooter's barrel.

The story opens with "Jimmy Ringo" having a drink in a saloon and attempting to stay low-keyed. "Ringo" IS the "notorious Gunfighter" that every young wannabe wants to kill. So, they can be known as "the man who killed Jimmy Ringo"!

In the saloon is "Eddie" that "wannabe" and he pushes "The Gunfighter" into a position he doesn't want to be in. When, "Eddie" makes the mistake of drawing his pistol and, next, falls dead to the floor by a bullet from "Jimmy Ringo's" pistol.

"Eddie's" three brothers now seek revenge for the "murder" of their kid-brother.

However, "Jimmy Ringo" is not an easy target and he ambushes the brothers, disarms them, sends their horses away, and they're forced to make the long walk back to town.

The screenplay now becomes a character study of a man trying to capture what he lost. "Variety". on January 1, 1950, had this to say:

There's never a sag or off moment in the footage...despite all the tight melodrama, the picture finds time for some leavening laughter. Gregory Peck perfectly portrays the title role, a man doomed to live out his span killing to keep from being killed. He gives it great sympathy and a type of rugged individualism that makes it real.

The screenplay now moves to the nearby community of Cayenne, "Jimmy Ringo" enters and finds a corner of the deserted saloon, he settles himself in it as either waiting for someone, or contemplating his life up to this moment. 

The bartender sends for "Marshall Strett", an old friend of "Ringo's", who urges him to leave, because of the sensation his presence is causing and the Marshall's concern for trouble. 

"Ringo" has returned to town to see his wife "Peggy" whom he has not seen in eight years. "Strett" informs him that she has changed her last name to "Walsh" to avoid people asking about it. "Jimmy Ringo" also has an eight-years-old son, "Jimmy Walsh", played by B.G. Norman, that he has never seen. "The Gunfighter" promises to leave once he's seen "Peggy", even though she has made it known she doesn't want anything to do with him.

In town is "Hunt Bromley" a young gunslinger that wants to be "the man who killed Jimmy Ringo".

Another old friend is the bar girl, "Molly", who will eventually get "Peggy" to see "Jimmy".

"Jimmy Ringo" finally meets with "Helen Walsh" and their son, "Jimmy Walsh". "The Gunfighter" tells his wife that he's "older and wiser", and wants to go to California, where they don't know him, and start a new life without his reputation. He wants "Helen" and "Jimmy" to go with him, she refuses his offer, but agrees to reconsider in a year's time if he has kept his word of no more gunfights.

Meeting his son, "Jimmy Ringo" keeps the fact that he's his father from him.

The reformed Gunfighter has made the mistake of staying too long in Cayenne. "Eddie's" three brothers show-up, but "Marshall Strett" and his deputies arrest the three. In the saloon, "Ringo" says good-bye to "Helen" and "Jimmy" and steps out the front entrance and is shot in the back by "Hunt Bromley".

As "Jimmy Ringo, the Gunfighter" lies dying, he tells "Marshall Strett" to let it be known that he drew on "Hunt Bromley", and that "Bromley shot him in self-defense". "Hunt" protests that he needs no help from "Ringo", but "Ringo" tells him that he will soon learn as he did, "that notoriety as a gunfighter is a curse that will follow him wherever he goes"!

In his death, "Jimmy Ringo" has finally obtained what he sought, his wife's forgiveness and reconciliation with his family!

At his funeral, "Helen Walsh" proudly reveals to the good people of Cayenne that she is "Mrs. Jimmy Ringo". The motion picture fades-out with a silhouetted, unrecognizable cowboy riding off into the Sunset.

The original screenplay has "Hunt Bromley" arrested by the Marshall, but Darryl F. Zanuck didn't like the fact that "Jimmy Ringo" might get his wish to be reunited in California with his wife.

How the real Johnny Ringo died is up for debate. One version has him committing suicide, another version by Wyatt Earp has him killing the outlaw, and an entirely different version by Doc Holliday makes himself the hero. Plus, two other people who claim to have other versions of "The Gunfighter's" death!

My last two motion pictures were released back-to-back only two months apart in 1958 with Gregory Peck portraying two very different types of men. 

THE BRAVADOS released on June 25, 1958

Gregory Peck was reunited with director Henry King. King had just released his 1957 version of Ernest Hemmingway's "The Sun Also Rises" co-starring Tyrone Power, Ava Gardner, Mel Ferrer, Errol Flynn, Eddie Albert, and Juliette Greco. He would follow this feature film with 1959's "This Earth Is Mine" co-starring Rock Hudson, Jean Simmons, and Claude Rains,

The screenplay was based upon the novel by author Frank O'Rourke of the same name. The screenplay was written by Philip Yordan, 1945's "Dillinger", 1951's "Detective Story", 1954's "The Naked Jungle", and 1954's "Johnny Guitar".

Gregory Peck portrayed "Jim Douglas". Peck had just been seen in 1957's "Designing Woman" co-starring with Lauren Bacall and Dolores Gray. He would follow this Western with the second one I will end this article with.

Joan Collins portrayed "Josefa Velarde". Collins had been seen in 1957's "Island in the Sun" co-starring with James Mason, Joan Fontaine, Dorothy Dandridge, Michael Rennie, and Harry Belafonte.
She would follow this picture with 1958's "Rally 'Round the Flag Boys" co-starring with Paul Newman and his wife Joanne Woodward.

Stephen Boyd portrayed "Bill Zachary". Boyd had just been in director Roger Vadim's 1958's "Les bijoutiers du clair de lune (The Moonlight Jewelers)" known in the English language dub as "The Night Heaven Fell". Stephen Boyd co-starred with the director's wife Brigette Bardot, and Alida Valli. He would follow this feature with 1959's "Woman Obsessed" co-starring with Susan Hayward and Barbara Nichols.

Albert Salmi portrayed "Ed Taylor". Salmi was appearing mainly on television dramas at this time. He had just appeared in an episode of the television anthology series "Climax", entitled, "Volcano Seat, the #2". Albert Salmi followed this motion picture with an appearance on the television anthology series "Studio One", in an episode entitled, "Man Under Glass".


Above left, Stephen Boyd, and right, Albert Salmi.

Henry Silva portrayed "Leandro Lujan". Silva had just been in the Robert Taylor, Richard Widmark, and Patricia Owens 1958 Western "The Law and Jake Wade". He followed this film with the 1958 Western "Ride a Crooked Trail" starring Audie Murphy, Gia Scala, and Walter Matthau.

Lee Van Cleef portrayed "Alfonso Parral". Van Cleef had just appeared in an episode of televisions "State Trooper", entitled, "710 Hysteria Street", and would follow this motion picture with, "Welcome to Monterey", a episode of Walt Disney's "Zorro" television series. My article, "Lee Van  Cleef: A Mixture of 'B' and 'Spaghetti' Westerns with a Side of Science Fiction and Just a Taste of Drama", can be read at:

Above left is Lee Van Cleef, and on his right is Henry Silva.

Kathleen Gallant portrayed "Emma Steimmetz". This was the third of her four on-screen roles between  1957 and 1965.

The Basic Screenplay:

Rancher "Jim Douglas" rides into the town of "Rio Arriba", six months after his wife was murdered by four men and "Douglas" is hunting the four. Now, the hunter finds his four targets in jail for committing another murder and awaiting execution. "Jim Douglas" asks "Sheriff Eloy Sanchez", played by Herbert Rudley, if he can see the four and permission is granted.

Next, "Jim Douglas" leaves the sheriff's office and starts walking around the town as he awaits his wife's murderer's execution. "Douglas" sees "Josefa Velarde", a woman from five years in his past that he fell in love with in New Orleans. He finds out that she never married and is looking after her late father's ranch. As they talk, "Jim" reveals to "Josefa" that he is now a widower with a daughter. 

"Josefa" will learn from the town priest how the wife of 'Jim Douglas" died. While the townspeople are in church the executioner "Simms", played by Joe De Rita, arrives and goes to the sheriff's office. 

"Simms" starts to measure and check the weight of the four men in the jail cell, but when the sheriff  turns away from. The fake "Simms" stabs the sheriff in the back, but the sheriff is able to kill him. The four murderers now make their escape, but take a woman, "Emma Steimmetz", as a hostage.

Learning of the jail break a posse is formed and rides out, but "Jim Douglas" doesn't go with them. He figures the four would leave somebody behind to cut anyone off as the other three escape. So, he waits until the following morning, rides out, and joins the delayed posse. The group does find the body of the real "Simms" and "Douglas" rides on.

The murderers now determine that it is "Douglas" they have to worry about not the posse, and "Alfonso Parral" is left behind to ambush and kill the rancher. 

The problem for "Parral" is "Douglas" ambushes him.

"Jim Douglas" now shows "Alfonso Parral" a photo of his wife, but "Parral" claims he's never seen the woman in the photo before. 

Out of revenge, "Douglas" kills "Alfonso Parral", leaves his body and sets out for the three remaining murderers. 

Meanwhile, "Ed Taylor" figures he can take "Douglas" and hangs back in case "Parral" missed his chance. "Taylor" sees "Douglas" and opens fire on him, but his shots miss. "Jim Douglas" gets the upper hand on "Ed Taylor" and hangs the murderer upside down from a tree.

Now, "Jim Douglas" has only two of the men that murdered his wife left to take his revenge upon. "Bill Zachary" and "Leandro Lujan" reach the home of a prospector and neighbor of "Douglas" named "John Butler", played by Gene Evans. Confronted by "Zachary" and "Lujan", "Butler" attempts to lie his way out and tells them that he has some work to do outside. "Butler" picks up a sack of coins, leaves the house hoping to escape, and is shot and killed by "Zachary".

"Lujan" goes outside to get coins from "Butler's" dead body and inside the house, "Bill Zachary" rapes "Emma Steimmetz". "Lujan" sees riders approaching and calls to "Zachary", the two flee the house leaving the girl behind. The riders turn out to be "Josefa" and one of her ranch hands, who spots "Jim Douglas" coming toward them from another direction, and as they meet the posse with "Emma's" father and fiancé arrive also.

"Douglas" now continues to his ranch to discover that "Zachary" and "Lujan" have stolen his last horses. He leaves his daughter with "Josefa" and heads for a Mexican border town that the two men seemed to be headed too.


"Douglas" enters a bar and finds "Bill Zachary" and confronts him. He shows the murderer the same picture of his wife that he had shown "Parral" and gets the same answer, "Zachary" has never seen her. "Jim Douglas" pulls his gun out of his holster, "Zachary" does his in response, and "Jim Douglas" shoots "Bill Zachary" dead!

"Douglas" goes to the house of the remaining murderer, "Leandro Lujan", and discovers he has a family too.

When shown the picture of the wife of "Jim Douglas", "Lujan" replies that he also has never seen the woman in the photo. "Leandro Lujan" thinks for a moment and admits that he and the other three men did ride pass the ranch. "Douglas" points to the sack of coins and says whomever took that sack murdered his wife. "Lujan" tells him that he took it off of "John Butler's" body, causing "Jim Douglas" to realize that his neighbor was his wife's murderer and not the four men he has been tracking down.

"Jim Butler" rides away from "Leandro Lujan", his family, and a sack of coins. He now knows he's no better than the three men he killed. He returns to "Rio Arriba" and goes to the church to ask forgiveness. While the priest cannot condone the actions of "Jim Douglas", he respects him for admitting what he has done.

"Josefa Velarde" arrives with the daughter of 'Jim Douglas" and the motion picture ends with the three leaving the church together. 

THE BIG COUNTRY premiered in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on August 13, 1958

David O Selznick failed at delivering an epic Western, but producer-director William Wyler, and producer-star Gregory Peck didn't.

William Wyler two years earlier released 1956's "Friendly Persuasion" co-starring Gary Cooper, Dorothy McGuire, and Anthony Perkins. He would follow this picture with an even larger epic, 1959's "Ben Hur" co-starring Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins and Stephen Boyd. My article, "Director William Wyler---Director Billy Wilder: Clearing Some of the Confusion Among Classic Movie  Lovers" is available for reading at:

The screenplay was based on author Donald Hamilton's 1957 Western "Ambush at Blanco Canyon", published in the "Saturday Evening Post", that would have it's title changed to "The Big Country" with the release of the motion picture. In 1959, Hamilton published the first of his highly successful "Matt Helm" detective series.

Donald Hamilton's story was adapted for a motion picture by two writers. The first was Jessamyn West, her own novel, "The Friendly Persuasion", was turned into Wyler's 1956 motion picture. The second writer was Robert Wilder, sometimes miss written as Robert Wyler, giving the impression he was related to William Wyler. This impression was also backed by their association on William Wyler classic 1951 "Detective Story" co-starring Kirk Douglas and Eleanor Parker. Wilder was also one of the three actual screenplay writers on "The Big Country".

The other two screenplay writers were, James R. Webb, the Roy Rodgers and Gaby Hayes, 1941 "Jesse James at Bay", 1952's "The Big Trees" starring Kirk Douglas, 1953's "The Charge at Feather River" starring Guy Madison, 1954's "Apache" starring Burt Lancaster, and 1954's "Vera Cruz" co-starring Gary Cooper, and Burt Lancaster.

Sy Bartlett, also the author of the novel"12 O'Clock High", wrote the screenplay for 1949's "Down to the Sea in Ships", and the story of Jim Bowie at the  Alamo, 1955's "The Last Command" starring Sterling Hayden.

Gregory Peck portrayed "James McKay". He would follow this film with one of the most realistic Korean War motion pictures, director Lewis Milestone's 1959 "Pork Chop Hill".

Jean Simmons portrayed "Julie Maragon". The year before she was in 1957's "Until They Sail", co-starring Paul Newman and Joan Fontaine. After this picture, Simmons was seen in, 1958's "Home Before Dark", co-starring with Dan O'Herlihy and Rhonda Fleming. 

Carroll Baker portrayed "Patricia 'Pat' Terrill". Although she portrayed Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson's daughter in 1956's "Giant". It was the motion between that picture and this one that shocked audiences and made Baker a star, 1956's "Baby Doll". Carroll Baker followed this feature with 1959's "But Not for Me" co-starring with Clark Gable and Lilli Palmer. In 1965, Carroll Baker and actress Carol Lynley had a race to get their biographical movie about Jean Harlow out first. My article about Harlow and that bio race, "JEAN HARLOW: The 1965 Biographical Motion Picture Race" is available for reading at:

Charlton Heston portrayed "Steve Leech". Heston had just portrayed a Mexican Special Prosecutor married to an American wife played by Janet Leigh in Orson Welles' 1958 "Touch of Evil". He followed this motion picture portraying "Andrew Jackson" in actor Anthony Quinn's remake of Cecil B. DeMille's "The Buccaneer", also in 1958.

Burl Ives portrayed "Rufus Hannassey". Singer, songwriter, and actor Burl Ives had appeared in the 1958 motion picture version of Eugene O'Neil's "Desire Under the Elms" co-starring with Sophia Loren and Anthony Perkins. He followed this feature with the 1958 motion picture version of Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" co-staring with Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman.

Charles Bickford portrayed "Major Henry Terrill". Bickford was now appearing on television programs as a "Guest Star". Prior to this role he was in 1958's, "The Daniel Barrister Story" on "Wagon Train", and followed this motion picture with a made for television production, 1959's, "The Joan Crawford Show: Woman on the Run". Which was actually an unsold pilot for the proposed "Joan Crawford Anthology Series".

Chuck Connors portrayed "Buck Hannassey". Connors was one month away from portraying "Lucas McCain" in the first of director and writer Sam Peckinpah's created series "The Rifleman". A role he would have for 168 episodes.

The Basic Screenplay:

The picture starts with former sea captain "James McKay" arriving in a small Western town by stagecoach and first meeting with a friend of his fiancée "Pat Terrill", named "Julie Maragon".

Next, Ranch foreman "Steve Leech" appears and brings "Pat" and "Jim" a wagon for their ride out to "Ladder" the "Terrill" ranch, but she first changes her clothes.


The two start out for "Ladder"..

On the way, "Jim" and "Pat" are harassed by a group of drunken cowhands led by "Buck Hannassey". 

"Pat" is ready to fight "Buck", but she becomes embarrassed. When "Jim" looks upon the harassment as just clean fun and doesn't do anything. 

When they arrive at "Ladder", "Jim" is introduced to "The Major", as "Pat's" father is known to his neighbors, and finds his future father-in-law has the same view toward a man fighting back.

The next morning as "Jim" leaves the main house, he sees "Steve Leech" with a gathering of ranch hands and their families around a corral with a horse in it. He guesses it's a set-up to get him to ride "Old Thunder", an unbroken horse, and declines "Leech's" offer. "Steve Leech" goads "Jim Mc Kay" over his refusal of riding "Old Thunder". To "Leech" this is another perceived sign of cowardness by "McKay'" as he showed with "Buck Hannassey". "Leech" has always thought he would marry "Pat" and eventually become the owner of the "Ladder".

At breakfast "Jim McCay" presents "The Major" with a pair of dueling pistols. While assuring him that "Buck" and the others the day before, were only drunken cowboys showing off and nothing more.

However, "The Major" now sends "Leech" with a large group of cowhands to raid the "Hannassey" cattle as a punishment for what "Buck" did to "Jim" and "Pat".

It is at the fancy ball hosted by "The Major" to introduce his future son-in-law to all the good people of the area. That "Jim McKay" learns what's behind the animosity the "Terrill's" have toward the "Hannassey's".


Two important points now follow each other. The first is "Jim" starts to notice "Pat's" girlfriend "Julie" and her views of "The Major".

Second, the party is interrupted by "Rufus Hannassey".

It is now revealed that both "The Major's" and "Rufus Hannassey's" land have no watering holes for their cattle on them. They both share the largest watering hole in the area known as "The Big Muddy". Which happens to be on "Julie Maragon's" land and she, as her grandfather had done, lets both share it.

Meanwhile, unknown to everyone except the ranch hand, "Ramond Gutierrez", played by Alfonso Bedoya, is that "Jim" has broken "Old Thunder". The morning following the gala, "Jim" takes the horse and heads out to "Julie's" ranch and starts looking around.

He asks "Julie" to show him the "Big Muddy" and wants to purchase the property as both a wedding gift for "Pat" and a way, he believes, of ending the feud between "The Major" and "Rufus".

What neither "Julie", or "Jim" realize is that they're kindred spirits and the real love story of the screenplay is being set. That night, "Jim McKay" puts on a coat for the cold and heads back to the "Terrill" ranch, but he first comes across a search party sent out to find "the Lost McKay".


"Steve Leech" lectures "Jim McKay" on the dangers of being "Lost" in the West, but the seaman produces a compass and tells the Ranch Foreman he was never "Lost" and gets back on "Old Thunder" and rides away from the search party. Back at the ranch in front of a worried "Pat" and "The Major" he makes the same claim, but "Steve" insists "Jim" is lying and was "Lost".

"Leech" attempts to goad "McKay" into a fight, but again, he won't take the bait. "Pat" is now implying he's a coward as is her father. "Jim McKay" tells them he will leave the ranch in the morning. Later that night, "McKay" goes to the bunk house and calls out "Leech" and the two have a fist fight to a mutually agreed draw. Not saying it out loud, "Leech" is discovering a respect for "McKay".

When "Julie" comes to "Ladder" in the morning, "Pat" let's go about "Jim" being a coward. When "Julie" tells her that he bought the "Big Muddy" as a wedding present, "Pat" suddenly changes her attitude and runs to "Jim", but when he says he plans to allow the "Hannassey's" free access to the water. "Patricia Terrill" finally reveals to "Jim McKay" her true nature by accusing him of hating "The Major", returns the dueling pistols, and tells him the wedding is off and to leave "Ladder".

Now, everything is about to come to a head.

While all the above is taking place, there is a second subplot revolving around "Buck Hannassey".

"Buck" has convinced his father that "Julie" is in love with him and will be the means of the family acquiring "The Big Muddy" after they're married. Thinking his son is telling him the truth, "Rufus" wants "Buck" to bring his girlfriend to the ranch in "Blanco Canyon", and he'll use her as a lure to get "The Major" into an "Ambush at Blanco Canyon". "Buck" goes and kidnaps "Julie" and the word gets out to both "Jim McKay" and "The Major".

"Rufus" now learns the truth that she is not in love with "Buck" and was kidnapped, but even so, she no longer owns "The Big Muddy" as it was sold to "Jim McKay".

"Rufus" is told that "McKay" has been spotted heading into "Blanco Canyon" and "Rufus" tells his men to let him pass. Meanwhile, "The Major" has put together a small army and is heading for a final show down with "Rufus".

"Jim McKay" arrives at the "Hannassey" ranch and confronts "Rufus".

He produces the bill of sale for the "Big Muddy" and tells him his plans for sharing the water. However, "Buck" won't let "Julie" leave with "Jim" and this puts "Rufus" in the middle. "Rufus" finds the dueling pistols and decides that "McKay" and his son will settle their dispute over "Julie" the "Gentlemen Way".

"Rufus" counts out the paces and the two men turn, but before his father gives the signal to fire, "Buck" shots and grazes "McKay's" forehead.

Now "Jim McKay" has a clear shot at "Buck Hannassey".

However, "Buck's" real cowardness convinces "Jim" not to shoot him. As "McKay" starts to turn away, "Buck" grabs another cowboy's gun and aims it at "Jim", but his action forces "Rufus" to shoot and kill his son. 

"The Major" and his men arrive in "Blanco Canyon" and are ambushed by the "Hannassey's" in the rocks above them. As the gunfight progresses "Rufus", "Jim", and "Julie" ride to the shoot-out. 

"Jim" reaches "Steve Leech" and convinces him to stop the "Terrill" men from shooting, he does, and both sides are now still, because this is nothing more than a personal feud between two old men using others as their pawns. 

"Rufus" challenges "The Major" and the two men armed with rifles face each other as both sides watch. In the end "Rufus" and "The Major" both die from their wounds.

The story ends with "Jim McKay", "Julie Maragon" and "Ramon Gutierrez" riding off together toward "The Big Muddy".

There would be other Western's starring Gregory Peck. Besides the one's I have already mentioned he was part of the all-star-cast telling the story of the westward expansion beginning on the Eire Canal in the Cinerama feature film, 1962's "How the West Was Won", in 1968 Gregory Peck starred in "The Stalking Moon", and in 1989 73-years-old Gregory Peck portrayed the real-life Ambrose Bierce in "Old Gringo".

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