Sep 22, 2011

"Duel in the sun" (1946): In My Own Words! (PART I)

For those who don't know what "IN MY OWN WORDS!" implies: when I see a movie that's so strange (like The Fountainhead) or bad (like The Garden of Allah), I re-tell it, from beginning to my own words. So obviously there are spoilers ahead.

Well, the other day I was doing a bit of research for my post on Prissy, played by Butterfly McQueen. In her filmography I noticed she worked in a movie called Duel in the sun with this minor cast:
  • Gregory Peck
  • Joseph Cotten
  • Jennifer Jones
  • Lionel Barrymore
  • Lillian Gish
  • Herbert Marshall
  • Walter Huston
  • Otto Kruger
You know...little people. I thought: "OMG, I need to watch this". And I did, obviously, otherwise I wouldn't be writing this...thing.

So here it goes....DUEL IN THE SUN

David Selznick's usual grandiose titles:
[Epic Music] Ahhh, this is so epic...this the story of Pearl who died young. Ahhh.[/Epic Music]

The place: it doesn't matter. Picture this: cowboys, Herbert Marshall, Indian/Mexican women (Hollywood doesn't care about the differences) on a set.

The people:

a) Really tanned Jennifer Jones aka Pearl. The daughter.
b) Herbert Marshall as a very refined gentleman. The father.
c) Some Indian/Mexican woman dancing wildly and then getting a room with some random guy (obviously). The mother.

Chapter 1. Jennifer becomes an orphan

b) kills c) and then he dies because it's the law. a) is sent to live with her dad's rich ex- girlfriend, Lillian Gish. 

First day at her new home

a) is very happy, because she meets Lillian's son, who is very polite and nice and a lawyer and Joseph Cotten (altogether: sighs). Lillian is a very kind lady too (and looks fragile as a little bird) and makes her feel at home and gives her a free tour around the house (like: these are the cows and those, the horses).

But Lionel Barrymore, Lillian's hubby and owner of the ranch, hates Jennifer and doesn't want her there because: 

1. She's the daughter of his wife's ex.
2. Because she's half breed.
3. Because Jennifer Jones is too tanned. 
4. He was tired of being the nice uncle in every movie he made.

When a) thinks that she finished meeting new people...another Lillian's son, Gregory Peck looking super young, arrives in his horse. And when you're thinking how nice Gregory always is...he isn't. HE'S THE BAD GUY! You can tell by the way she looks at a), it's like "I want you with fries on the side". Obviously, Lillian doesn't notice the evil look in her son's eyes.

Anyway, Lillian plays the piano for Jennifer Jones and then she sends her to bed. It's been a long day, but before arriving to her room, Jennifer makes three stops to be:

1. Harassed by Lionel Barrymore ("How did they come to name you Pearl? Couldn't have much eye for color, couldn't they? HAHAHA!")
2. Impressed by Joseph Cotten's good looks and charm and kindness (she looks in love with him).
3. Practically abused by Bad Gregory Peck.

Everything in less than 10 minutes.

Second day at her new home.

Bad Gregory Peck starts showing off his riding skills to impress a). For some reason, she is still talking to him, especially after he gave her a super horse. The only problem is that she doesn't know how to control a horse and she falls (Jennifer's health: -1). And for another reason we don't get, she falls and stays this way:

So obviously Bad Gregory has a super idea: wanna go swimming?. And she's like offended and rides her horse back home yelling "I WON'T, I WON'T" (but we get that someday SHE WILL, SHE WILL).

Joseph Cotten is more puzzled than us, of course. But Jennifer says she doesn't care about Bad Gregory and urges Joseph to go for a walk by the light of the moon (looking in love with him)...while Gregory pretends he's singing and playing the guitar (and you think: "oh, so Gregory and Joseph are gonna be in a DUEL IN THE SUN").

Third day at her new home

Some sweaty cowboys are finishing their work in the ranch. Jennifer decided to go swimming by herself, but for some reason we don't get she makes herself very visible. 

Because she couldn't ride behind the hill, right?

One of the cowboys notices her riding to the pond and alerts Bad Gregory. He arrives to the pond and sees naked Jennifer swimming (you could sell bathing suits and become a millionaire). Annoying Gregory stays there, watching.

And that's basically how the third day is spent: Jennifer can't come out all naked, even if she's very tanned.

Finally, she arrives all wet to dinner, furious and very late. Delicate and fragile Lillian Gish politely asks if she went swimming with Gregory and she says no. Bad Gregory enters and is all: "oh, what fun we had swimming, etc etc".


Lillian is shocked.

Later that night.

Lillian invited a priest to talk to Jennifer. Apparently, she didn't like to use a proper pjs (you could sell pajamas and become a millionaire). The priest doesn't seem to mind that fact. 

He says some words to save her soul and gives her a medallion. Lillian is relieved.

Fourth day at her new home.

Selznick, King Vidor and the dozen writers they had working in the script, remembered this one was a western and introduced some random action: some guys wanted to build a railroad in Lionel Barrymore's land and he goes riding with like 1,345,567,597,400 of his workers to stop them. 

Joseph Cotten is against this fight and he agrees with the train people. Then the army arrives and the dispute is over. Lionel Barrymore always preferred Bad Gregory Peck, but now he just hates Joseph Cotten: he can't live in his ranch anymore.

That night. 
We see Jenifer Jones washing the floor in her room. Bad Gregory Peck arrives with his evil face. He has the worst intentions. And she doesn't fight anymore. Quite the opposite really.

[Lightings and thunders on the background.]

And then...

To be


  1. I love/love /love this film! "Duel in the Sun", is a very passionate and romantic film and its characters are much bigger than life… One of my favorite scenes was when Laura Belle said to her husband "I'm a nuisance to you even to the end. It's the first time you've been in this room since that night". He said " I loved you, Laura Belle. Yes, sir, I loved you." It does not get any better than that..

  2. "And she's like offended and rides her horse back home yelling 'I WON'T, I WON'T' (but we get that someday SHE WILL, SHE WILL)."

    I love this. Can't wait for Part Two.

  3. This morning I watched The Bravados -- Gregory Peck being all scary and chasing down bad guys and mercilessly killing them. And I recently decided that I WILL FORCE MYSELF TO WATCH DUEL IN THE SUN. It seems I know how to pick odd Gregory Peck westerns. (Actually, I've never seen a particularly NORMAL Gregory Peck western, but that's not the point.)

    Anyhow, I LOVE when you write "In My Own Words" posts! They're so funny and brilliant and hilarious! I'm eagerly anticipating the next part!

  4. Clara, this was HILARIOUS! Duel in the Sun is in my top 10 for worst movies ever made. How could it be so bad with such a cast? Well, first you miscast! Peck and Jones are so WRONG for their parts, it's hard to believe. I know filmmakers view rushes every night of what they filmed that day -- how could they not notice how BAD this thing was?! I am so looking forward to your next installment. Wonderful!

  5. Oh my goodness! That was hilarious! I LOVED THIS POST! Please do more (or have you already?)! I can't wait for part two!

  6. Thank you, Audrey! Oh, a western starring Gregory I love is "The big country". Also that one with Eva Marie Saint I reviewed some weeks ago, "The Stalking Moon"... although it's kind of a thriller :) Thanks again for your kind words!

  7. The Big Country WAS a good one. But not exactly a typical western. Gregory Peck was a sea captain after all! Only the Valiant is truly terrible, but Greg is young and handsome makes it OKAY.

    I must have missed your Stalking Moon review. Going to go find it!


  8. Clara, your "In My Own Words" posts are always tons of fun to read and laugh along with, and your take on Part 1 of DUEL IN THE SUN was one of your very best! I first saw it in college for my Genre Films class, and for some reason DUEL... was the only Western our professor had available. No offense to those of you out there who loved the movie, but I thought our professor should have saved it for the Comedy class! Your endearingly snarky wisecracks were great! Looking forward to Part 2!

  9. Thanks Dorian, I'm glad you liked it! Seems that I'm more creative to talk about films I found bad than the ones I found great :)

  10. LOL, Becky, yeah, this is one is quite bad. Yesterday I was reading a book that contains an interview with Niven Busch, you know the writer of novels like "The furies" and "Duel in the sun" plus screenwriter of "The postman always rings twice"...he said that the cast was great (although he wanted...Veronica Lake with dyed hair as Pearl), that everything had the magnificent tone Selznick liked for his movies, but he didn't like how they adapted their novel, he would have made it "different". He said that King Vidor and Selznick didn't get along, that Selznick wanted him out and almost finished the movie by himself. Maybe that explains this mess of a movie. Thanks for your comment :)

  11. Yeah, well you're right. He didn't made typical westerns. "The Stalking Moon" is a thriller with cowboys and Indians....Here's the link:

    I haven't seen Only the Valiant, but if you say it's truly terrible...I won't give it a try :) Thanks for your comment, Emm! Oh, and sorry I called you Audrey before! I'm accustomed to your real name, so when I checked the nickname I got confused :)

  12. Thank you very much Rachel! I'm glad you are enjoying these weird movies told IN MY OWN WORDS :)

  13. I'm sorry I'm making fun of a movie you love! Hope you can forgive me :) The part you mentioned was sad, but I just hated Lionel Barrymore's character, so I didn't mind his opinion, he was really unfair and aggressive with Laura Belle! Thanks for visiting :)

  14. THANK YOU! "Duel in the Sun" Part II will be up on Sunday. Oh, I've written two post of this kind previously:

    The Fountainhead:

    The Garden of Allah (Charles Boyer/Marlene Dietrich):

    Thanks again for your interest and good vibes :)

  15. This movie holds a special place in my heart because my marriage of 25 years ended pretty much the same way with my ex and I shooting each other over and over until nothing was left.-sage



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...