25 November 2006 | bkoganbing
Why,........."Cause the East Needs Beef."
The Big Land is a western that has Alan Ladd as a war weary Civil War veteran who wants to go into the cattle business. He's had enough of killing over five years, but in the end Ladd has to let his skill with a gun settle the usual problems of the frontier.
Anthony Caruso, a good friend of Ladd's in real life, has control of the rail shipping head where the Texas cattle arrive to be sent to the slaughterhouses in the east and he's not letting go. Of course the thing to do would be to just have it out right then and there with Caruso. But Ladd's had enough of killing from the Civil War and besides there would be no picture.
He persuades a group of settlers to found an incorporate a town where the railroad will eventually be coming to. Designing and planning the town is a dissolute architect played by Edmond O'Brien. O'Brien's got a pretty sister in Virginia Mayo which is another reason Ladd stays interested and around.
The thing I most remember about The Big Land is that constant repetition of the phrase, "the east needs beef." It's the reason Ladd, O'Brien, Mayo, are doing all that they are and enduring all the hardships. It's almost like no one will have a protein component in their diet unless Alan Ladd accomplishes what he sets out to do. It seemed to be a bit silly at times.
There's enough action though for any good western fan to overcome a rather trite story. American viewers would soon be seeing all about cattle drives in the western television series Rawhide. And on the silver screen, cattle drives were the background for much better films like John Wayne's Red River.