The Big Sky DVD
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Directed by Howard Hawks
Produced in 1952
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - American film
Kirk Douglas stars in this tale of love and adventure in 1830s America. This new release brings an unfairly neglected Hawks film into the spotlight says James Oliver.
In the early 1830s, America was mostly a wilderness, unexplored by the white settlers. Jim Deakin (Kirk) makes his living out there, trapping and trading with the Natives. After befriending Boone Caudill (Martin), the pair join an expedition to go up the wide Missouri river to trade with the Blackfeet tribe – and to return one of their princesses, Teal Eye (Threatt), who had been kidnapped by a war party years before.
It's a dangerous journey and they're threatened both by the elements and by rival traders, who want to preserve their monopoly. But the greatest danger for Jim and Boone comes from Teal Eye: both have fallen in love with her and their friendship starts to fray at the edges...
It's hard not to feel a little sorry for The Big Sky. Had it been directed by anyone else, this rich character driven adventure would be widely acclaimed for its confidence, humour and personality. But over the course of his long career, Howard Hawks directed so many masterpieces and near masterpieces that his merely excellent work – like this – tends to be overlooked.
Then again, no one else could have made it: this is a Hawks film to its very heart. It's a long, almost languid film; yes, the action is well staged and exciting but the real fun comes from hanging out with the characters. And what a typically Hawksian bunch they are, a collection of laconic men, feisty dames and gruff old coots: Hawks allowed Arthur Hunnicutt to walk away with the film as Boone's grizzled uncle Zeb.
Hunnicutt copped an Oscar nomination for his efforts. So too did Russell Harlan, whose beautiful black and white photography is such an integral part of the film. Hawks shot The Big Sky on location in Wyoming and the glorious location work ensures the film lives up to its title.
For all its obscurity, The Big Sky can more than hold its own amongst the better known titles in Hawks' canon. This new DVD brings this unfairly neglected film into the spotlight and reveals another true Howard Hawks classic.
James Oliver on 25th March 2011
Author of 147 reviews
A true Howard Hawks classic, The Big Sky sees Dewey Martin and Kirk Douglas play the two tough mountain men who join an expedition up the Missouri River to establish a trading post. A large scale adventure with a great cast.
Publisher: Odeon Entertainment
Length: 121 mins
Cat No: ODNF265
Format: DVD B&W