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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Duel In The Sun (1946)

After her father (Herbert Marshall) is executed for killing her mother (Tilly Losch) and her lover (Sidney Blackmer), a young girl (Jennifer Jones) is sent out West to live with her father's first love (Lillian Gish). As her mother's daughter, it's difficult for her to repress her sexual desires especially when the no good family son (a surprisingly sexy Gregory Peck) seduces her. Westerns are often referred to as horse operas but never has the term been more apt than in King Vidor's insane operatic epic western. Pauline Kael referred to it as Wagnerian and that about sums it up. Eveything is done on a massive scale. When in the opening scene we enter a saloon, it's the biggest saloon you've ever seen, the size of an airplane hangar. When Lionel Barrymore rides out to stop a train from crossing his property, he's accompanied by literally hundreds of galloping cowboys accompanied by Dimitri Tiomkin's thundering music. And the passions are operatic too. Love and hate mixed together as lovers declare their love for each other while killing each other. It's bonkers but so irresistibly compelling that you watch it giddy with excitement. Often referred to as "lust in the dust", there's never been a western like it. With Lionel Barrymore, Walter Huston, Charles Bickford, Joan Tetzel, Otto Kruger and Butterfly McQueen.  

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