Wednesday, June 20, 2012

249. The Big Sky (1952)

Running Time: 140 minutes
Directed By: Howard Hawks
Written By: A.B. Guthrie Jr., Dudley Nichols, from novel by A.B. Guthrie Jr.
Main Cast: Kirk Douglas, Dewey Martin, Elizabeth Threatt, Arthur Hunnicutt, Steven Geray
Click here to view the trailer


What started as a week that I was highly looking forward to, "Hawks Week" has turned into an absolute nightmare, with only "Sergeant York" living up to the reputation that Howard Hawks left behind. Beyond that, I had a set of Bogey & Bacall failures and "Red River", which was an epic fail. However, I'm not sure it can get any worse, as "The Big Sky" clocks in at a whopping 140 minute snooze-fest.

The film centers around Jim Deakins (Douglas) and is set in 1832, in the mid-west. Early on, Jim meets up with Boone Caudill (Martin), who is initially hostile toward Jim, but wind up becoming best friends. The duo travel to St. Louis, in search of Boone's uncle, a hunter & trapper named Zeb Calloway (Hunnicutt). After a barroom brawl, Jim and Boone land themselves in jail, where they're surprised to see they have a third cellmate, which turns out to be Uncle Zeb. Zeb lets the boys in on an expedition that he and a man named Frenchy (Geray) are organizing, so that they can trade with the Blackfoot Indians. From there, the film is really underway as Frenchy, Zeb, Jim and Boone, join an entire crew of traders and head up the Missouri River, via a keelboat. During the trip, Jim and Boone find out that Frenchy has stashed an Indian woman aboard the boat, in an attempt to use her as a hostage to entice the Blackfoot into trading with them. The whole time the crew is also being followed by The Missouri Company, a rival group of fur traders.

"The Big Sky" was the type of film you'd find my grandparents watching on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, when we'd go to visit them, many years ago. My grandparents loved old Westerns and it wasn't unusual to walk in and find their eyes glued to the television, as they rooted on "The Duke" or watched guys like Kirk Douglas travel up the river, playing cowboys and Indians. It's also the type of film that I'd quietly wish they'd turn off. When I was that age, I was pretty close minded as to the films that I'd watch. I was against anything black & white and I remember swearing hatred toward Westerns, even though I'd never seen one in it's entirety. Today, I'm much more open, have learned to love the beauty that black & white cinema offers and have even found a few Westerns that have really "wowed" me (don't forget that "Once Upon a Time in the West" was the #1 spot of my last TOP 20). However, "The Big Sky" was just awful, plain and simple. Actually, lets backtrack, it started out okay. I was into the characters and ready to see if Kirk Douglas could pull off a pioneer. I was enjoying Douglas and I was with the film, right up to the point that the keelboat set sail and I realized that this was basically the same movie as "Red River", except we were going to travel by boat, rather than by horseback. We were still going to be going from point A to point B, in a classic, western, traveling movie. I thought, maybe this could be a little more exciting, but boy was I wrong.

Almost nothing here appealed to me. It was entirely too long and there wasn't enough good to fill out a film that hit almost two and a half hours. I'm not even going to continue harping. I didn't like it and that's that. It bored me to tears, it offered nothing exciting or interesting and I could not wait for it to end. Oh, and speaking of the end, it took forever to finally get there. The film truly ended at about the 110 minute mark, but they somehow managed to drag the damn thing out for another half hour and tack on more and more crap, that could've been sewed up inside of five minutes. Geesh, I'm just angry at this entry.

RATING: 2/10  I can't go '1', because it started out okay, but boy did that end in a hurry. Next up: "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes".


June 20, 2012  3:00pm

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