Legendary producer David O. Selznick dreamed of another magnum opus like his 1939 production of Gone with the Wind; he also purposed to make Jennifer Jones, his ladylove and eventually second Mrs.áSelznick, a megastar. A... more »ccordingly, he micromanaged the making of Duel in the Sun (Lust in the Dust to some), an extravagant Technicolor epic about the collision of the old West with the new, wide-open spaces with railroads and barbed wire, and hot-blooded outlaws with civilized folk, often wimpy or unwell. Beginning among giant rocks drenched in a blood-red sunset, with velvet-voiced Orson Welles intoning the leibestod legend of doomed Pearl Chavez and her demon lover, Duel never strays far from lush romanticism, spiced with a dash of S/M. Orphaned Pearl (Jones) comes to live at Spanish Bit Ranch, where frail Laura Belle McCanles (Lillian Gish) tries to make a lady of her, despite her questionable origins and insistent voluptuousness. Sexual license versus law--Pearl's choices--are symbolized by the McCanles brothers: dark, undisciplined Lewt (a lubriciously wicked Gregory Peck) and reasonable, forward-looking, repressed Jesse (Joseph Cotten). The cast is huge (Lionel Barrymore, Walter Huston, Harry Carey, Herbert Marshall, Charles Bickford, Butterfly McQueen) and there are unforgettable set pieces: summoned by a cacophony of bells, the gathering of McCanles cowboys from the four corners of the earth; Pearl in heat, clutching Lewt's leg and being dragged across the floor as he makes his getaway to Mexico; and the lovers' final shootout among those red rocks, as orgiastic a finale as you could ask for. --Kathleen Murphy« less
Epic, Sprawling Horse Opera (Roadshow Edition Review)
Michael C. Smith | San Francisco, CA United States | 07/08/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sweeping! Magnificent! Corny! Romantic! A west that never existed is splashed across the screen as only David O. Selznick, the master of such gargantuan Hollywood classics as "Gone With the Wind", "Since You Went Away" and "Rebecca" could give us.
This is not the revisionists west of the 1990's, nor that West of the gritty operatic glamour of Sergio Leone's "Once Upon A Time In The West." You will not find the spare clean and lean beauty of John ford's West. What we have here is the epic telling on a screen that screams to be stretched into widescreen and spills out over the audenience the lush and romantic horse Opera of Pearl Chavez, the McCanles clan and the coming of the railroads in the 1880's.
From the moment the overture replete with unneeded narration begins you know you are in for a melodrama of purple emotions and blood red vendettas. The opening scene is set in a saloon on a scale of a modern Vegas casino. There amidst the wild gunfire of overheated cowboys and insanely spinning faro wheels we are introduced to the Scarlett O'Hara of the West, half-breed Pearl Chavez. As played by Jennifer Jones she is just about the hottest tamale to ever hit the pages of a screenplay expressly written to drive men mad, turn brother against brother and defy a "Sinkiller". What Jane Russell was supposed to be in "The Outlaw" we get in Technicolor spades in the form of Miss Jones.
She takes huge hefty bites of the massive sets and chews them to a fare thee well and in the process creates a wanton nymphomaniacal character of such charm, heat and passion that she is truly a motion picture original. This is the best thing Miss Jones ever did because it is so out of control and beyond the pale of her more subdued performances. Of saints, teenage war brides and ghosts of lost love.
As Lewt McCanles we get the hottest, meanest, most excitingly nasty performance Gregory Peck ever was allowed to give. And what an irresistible bad boy he is. He was never sexier or more wonderful than in this departure from the Peck norm.
Even the usually dull Joseph Cotton manages to rise above his typically dry rolls, but not too much, in the thankless roll of the good brother. He seems a little too old for the part and a little too polished. Someone like Charlton Heston might have been more on the spot.
Lillian Gish steals every scene she is in with quite assuredness and only finds completion from the ever-prissy Butterfly McQueen. In her final scene with Lionel Barrymore Miss Gish makes off with the scene so quitly that you are hit with it's impact only after the fact. Barrymore creates one of his most beloved curmudgeons as Senator Jackson McCanles full of sound and furry and ultimately signifying less than nothing. His introduction to Pearl topped by a sneeringly shocking racial slur that encapsulates his character and time and place.
Another highlight is the cameo by Walter Huston as "The Sinkiller". What can be said of him is only this, pure cinematic magic.
The film unfold with such a sense of grandeur and awe that it sweeps you along to its incredible ending on the wings of epic pure camp poetry. The Dimitri Tiomkin score is a masterpiece and much famed over the years for the incredible call of the bells set piece.
The three cinematographers involved, Hal Rosson, Ray Rennahan, and Lee Garmes paint movie memory after memory with the palate of hot dusty hues that have long been forgotten by audiences of today. To see it now is perhaps more exciting and thrilling than it was in 1947.
All of this mad mixture of melodrama, mush and music was orchestrated by the master showman of his time, the ultimate huckster of smoke and mirrors and consummate barometer for just what we wanted in our early epics of the America that never existed, David O. Selznick, who added the "O" to his name just because it looked better on the marquee. When they say that off heard lament "They don't make'um like they used to." Both Mr. Selznick and "Duel In The Sun" are what they are talking about. If they still made them like this then something would be terribly wrong. Thank god they did make films like this once upon a time and we still have them to lose ourselves in a dream of what never was and what will never be again."
Plan on "Drueling" over this Duel in the Sun
James D'Arc | Orem, Utah United States | 12/16/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This first-time-ever release of the original Roadshow Version of DUEL IN THE SUN is definitive both as to length and features as well as to its sparkling new look. The Overture and Exit music, by the great Dimitri Tiomkin, prepares the viewer for this overblown, extravagant, and overlength Western. The narration during the Overture places the film in its historical context, and foreshadows the filmmakers' concerns with the Production Code Administration of the day. This film wasn't known as "Lust in the Dust" for nothing. That this film is overdone in almost every respect shouldn't for one minute discourage the purchase of DUEL. Its tremendous cast--including a surprisingly atypical performance by the great Walter Huston as the "sin killer" preacher--is well worth seeing. While the film is overlong, the costly restoration work that has gone into this edition makes it a visual treat that, for the first time, accurately reveals the high standard of craftsmanship insisted on by its producer David O. Selznick. The colors are so sharp and true that they seem to jump out from the screen. If you are a fan of this film--as something of a "guilty pleasure"--you'll throw away the previous video release of this film with gusto. There is absolutely no comparison whatsoever. The 5-star rating is primarily for how gorgeous it looks than for the story itself. This is what great Technicolor could do during Hollywood's Golden Age. The trailers, also included in this edition, make this a great package."
Don't know why this movie has such a bad rap.....
S. Dees | GA | 05/24/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It is WONDERFUL!!! What more could one ask for from the Golden Age of Hollywood: Producer David O. Selznick(he did a little something called "Gone With the Wind" - you may not remember that one....), beautiful Jennifer Jones, a young Gregory Peck, stalwart support from Joseph Cotten, a crotchtedy Lionel Barrymore, a luminious Lillian Gish, supendous 3-strip Technicolor, a decent story for a western(my least favorite movie genre), and a history that would equal Selznick's other "little movie" - GWTW. The DVD of this does the film justice, although some commentary or other supporting features would have been fantastic. I have the Anchor Bay releases of this film and just got this MGM release-they seem to be taken from the same source material, which is very, very good. This film's reputation needs to be defended - sure it was shocking in 1947, but in 2004, they could probably touch on these topics in an "Waltons" or "Litte House" episode. Judge for yourself - get this movie - you won't be disappointed!!"
Stephen Reginald | Chicago, IL United States | 08/14/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Duel in the Sun is an epic in both it's themes and production. Although it doesn't hold up nearly as well as other films from the 1940s, it has many things which will please film lovers. When Jennifer Jones, a half-breed Indian Girl named Pearl Chavez, goes to live with her dead father's ex-fiancee and her family, a love triangle develops between Lewt and Jesse McCanles, Gregorgy Peck and Joseph Cotton respectively. Peck is the low down spoiled son of Senator (Lionel Barrymore) and Laura Belle (Lillian Gish) McCanles, whose interest in Jones is purely physical. Cotton's character on the other hand has a genuine affection for Pearl and tries to protect her from his raffish younger brother. The inevitable showdown between brothers ensues, with Peck appearing the winner for Pearl's affections. Filled with enough sweep and grandeur for twenty films, Duel has some of the most interesting color cinematography ever put on celluloid. The scenes during the building of the railroad and the confrontation that follows are most impressive. Everyone in the cast seems to believe the storyline, which makes for a fun ride in spite of the downright hokiness of the plot. David O. Selznick spent six million dollars on a film that was supposed to be another Gone With the Wind and it shows. Released in 1947, Duel became one of the biggest grossing westerns of all time. It's also a testament to how popular stars can turn a mediocre story into a full blown blockbuster. With all its faults, this is a highly entertaining movie."
This film has Jennifer Jones....what more can you need?
Kendrik Lau | New York City | 05/21/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Duel in the Sun" was David Selznick's attempt to outdo "Gone With the Wind". Sure, it has lavish and sweeping production, glorious cinematography. But nothing can outdo "Gone With the Wind". But it was still a valiant attempt.The film revolves around Pearl Chavez, a half white/half Amerind girl whose became an orphan when her father was hanged for murder. She was sent to the family of her father's ex-fiancee (Lillian Gish). Unfortunately, the patriach of the family harbors racist attitude toward Pearl ("PEARL??? Why aren't you called POCAHONTAS?!!"). The two son, blond Jesse (Joseph Cotten)the saint and dark haired Lewt (Gregory Peck) the devil both fell for Pearl, and this love triangle eventually leads to the climatic event suggested by the film's title.As usual, the ever reliable Jennifer Jones demonstrate her talents that other Hollywood actresses can only hope they had. If you are used to seeing Ms. Jones in goody two shoes virginal roles in films such as Song of Bernadette, Since You Went Away, Love Is A Many Splendored Thing, Portrait of Jennie, and even The Towering Inferno, Duel In the Sun shows that she can exude sex as well. Typical of Jennifer's performances, she don't just act with her face, she acted with her entire body as well. She BECOMES the character.Gregory Peck is also excellent, being a rotten rakish rogue for once rather than the defender of right and virtue we use to get from him in films such as A Gentleman's Agreement and The Paradine Case.Highly sexually charge in its day, Duel In the Sun was jeered by critics as "lust in the dust". But given how this film has gone on to be a classic, both Peck and Jones can jeer back. Their performances, and the film itself is still remembered and celebrated.And where are the critics now?