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 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.
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