Search This Blog

Thursday, September 18, 2014

'The Big Land' DVD: 'Shane' Star Alan Ladd Shows He is no One Trick Pony Regarding Westerns

Big Land, The
The all-color, minimal singing, and little dancing 1957 Alan Ladd Western film "The Big Land," which Warner Archive released on DVD during the summer of 2014, is a wonderful follow-up to Ladd's classic 1953 film "Shane." This one has Ladd playing Confederate Army Civil War veteran Chad Morgan, who is on a quest that that he hopes succeeds better than his prior venture.

Much of the sense that "Land" is like the classic television westerns of the era is attributable to the (Archive provided) fact that a co-screenwriter is the creator of "Bonanza."

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of a scene from "Land" wonderfully demonstrates the classic western vibe of the film. 

Morgan discovers the hard way early in "Land" that driving cattle a long distance in an effort to obtain a better price for them does not pay off. His stumbling on a small community prompts thoughts of a scheme with better potential for selling cattle; the lack of railroad access is one stumbling block.

Morgan and his team, including very quickly reformed town drunk Joe Jaegar (played by a perfectly cast Edmond O'Brien), then spring into action to build a town around the new railroad facility.

Evil cattle buyer Brog, who derives great profits from the otherwise unprofitable conditions under which cattle sales must occur, is the outlaw of the film. His sabotage, intimidation tactics, and other nefarious doings threaten the viability of the new venture and the nonviolent tendencies of the folks who are seeking peace and prosperity.

The tension and associated western-style violence nicely escalate in "Land" and culminate in the showdown that is a mainstay of this genre. The outcome is relatively predictable, but the body count that leads up to it is less so.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Land" is welcome to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.