Duel in the Sun (1946)

Passed   |    |  Drama, Romance, Western


Duel in the Sun (1946) Poster

Beautiful half-breed Pearl Chavez becomes the ward of her dead father's first love and finds herself torn between her sons, one good and the other bad.


6.8/10
7,589

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  • Lionel Barrymore and Lillian Gish in Duel in the Sun (1946)
  • D.W. Griffith and Lillian Gish in Duel in the Sun (1946)
  • Owen Marsh in Duel in the Sun (1946)
  • Jennifer Jones in Duel in the Sun (1946)
  • Gregory Peck in Duel in the Sun (1946)
  • Gregory Peck and Jennifer Jones in Duel in the Sun (1946)

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20 December 2005 | bkoganbing
6
| She's a good girl that Pearl
David O. Selznick spent the rest of his life trying to top Gone With the Wind. What other mountains did he have to climb after making the most acclaimed motion picture ever?

In addition he had another obsession, his second wife Jennifer Jones. He was going to make her the greatest leading lady in the history of film.

Well he didn't succeed at either, but it wasn't for lack of trying. Jones herself was in a peculiar position similar to her husband's. She got an Oscar for her first feature film after she changed her name from Phyllis Isley to Jennifer Jones. Selznick knew that she couldn't play saints all her life as she did in The Song of Bernadette. So for this western answer to Gone With the Wind as Pearl Chavez she plays about as opposite a character from Bernadette Soubirous as you can get.

Duel in the Sun got mixed reviews by the critics, but the public ate it up. It's the story of the McCanless family, parents Lionel Barrymore and Lillian Gish and sons Joseph Cotten and Gregory Peck. Cotten is the good son, Peck the bad one. In fact as Lewt McCanless Peck played his worst character until Josef Mengele in Boys from Brazil.

A kissing cousin of their's Jennifer Jones comes to live with them. She's the offspring of an old beau of Lillian's, Herbert Marshall and the Indian wife he ran off with back in the day. Lillian and Herbert were kissing cousins also.

As Pearl Chavez, Jen gets the McCanless boys testosterone going into overdrive. Take one look at her and you can hardly blame them.

One of the not so hidden subtexts of Duel in the Sun is racism. Jennifer's good for a quick roll in the hay, but marriage is out of the question, at least for Gregory Peck. Barrymore's and Peck's racism is overt, the others not quite so, but it's still there.

The negotiations with Louis B. Mayer for Lionel Barrymore must have been interesting. Selznick's former wife was Irene Mayer, Louis's daughter.

One thing with Selznick, he spared no expense. He got the best in talent for this film. Dimitri Tiomkin did the score, King Vidor the direction, Ray Rennahan the color photography which is absolutely stunning.

He even got Bing Crosby to record Gotta Get Me Somebody to Love with Les Paul's guitar. Peck sang it in the film, Crosby's record sold a few platters.

He even got Orson Welles to do the off-screen narration if you don't recognize that voice.

It misses being a classic mainly because Selznick couldn't keep his hands off it. Sometimes the acting is about as subtle as a sledgehammer from all the performers. I'm willing to bet it's Selznick more than Vidor.

Yet it's good entertainment and Duel in the Sun does have its moments.

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Genres

Drama | Romance | Western

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