The Big Sky (1952)

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    Plot Summary
    Jim Deakins is a frontiersman and Indian trader who is making a perilous journey
    with a group of other men up the Missouri River to get a large haul of furs
    from friendly Blackfoot Indians.
    The problem is that they have to get through hostile Indian territory first
    and they find that they have seriously underestimated the difficulties they will undergo.
    The large body of men who started the journey are gradually whittled down
    until only a hardy few, like Deakins, are left.
    Written by Alfred Jingle

    Kirk Douglas ... Jim Deakins
    Dewey Martin ... Boone Caudill
    Elizabeth Threatt ... Teal Eye
    Arthur Hunnicutt ... Zeb Calloway
    Buddy Baer ... Romaine
    Steven Geray ... Frenchy' Jourdonnais
    Henri Letondal ... La Badie
    Hank Worden ... Poordevil
    Jim Davis ... Streak
    and many more...

    Howard Hawks

    Writing Credits
    Dudley Nichols ... (screenplay)
    A.B. Guthrie Jr. ... (novel)
    Ray Buffum ... (adaptation) (uncredited)
    DeVallon Scott ... (adaptation) (uncredited)

    Howard Hawks ... producer
    Edward Lasker ... associate producer

    Dimitri Tiomkin

    Russell Harlan ... director of photography

    While shooting Red River (1948), there was a scene that director Howard Hawks
    unsuccessfully urged John Wayne to do.
    It involved his getting a finger mangled between a saddle horn and a rope,
    resulting in Walter Brennan's amputating it.
    Hawks reportedly told Wayne, "If you're not good enough, we won't do it",
    but Wayne wouldn't do it.
    According to Hawks biographer Todd McCarthy, Hawks did get Kirk Douglas
    to do that scene in this film, and it came off so funny
    that Wayne later declared to Hawks,
    "If you tell me a funeral is funny, I'll do a funeral."

    Montgomery Clift was offered the role of "Boone Caudill", but turned it down.
    It was eventually given to Dewey Martin.

    Howard Hawks considered Marlon Brando for either of the lead roles, but his asking price was too high.

    Howard Hawks considered Charlton Heston, Robert Mitchum or Sydney Chaplin for the role of Boone Caudill.

    Hank Worden (whose character speaks mostly Blackfoot) is very obviously dubbed
    by someone whose voice sounds nothing like his.

    Elizabeth Threatt's only film.

    This was the last of three Howard Hawks films written or co-written by Dudley Nichols.
    Interestingly, each occurred in a different decade;
    the others were "Bringing Up Baby" in 1938 and "Air Force" in 1943.

    Howard Hawks recycled his protagonists singing "Whiskey Leave Me Alone"
    ten years later when he made Hatari with John Wayne in 1962.

    Narrated by Arthur Hunnicutt.

    Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.

    Film debut of Booth Colman.

    Story takes place in 1832. Automobiles are visible during prologue.

    Character error
    Jim expresses amazement at the size of St. Louis.
    However, he had just come from Louisville, which in 1832 was about twice the size of St. Louis,
    so it should not have been a source of such astonishment.

    Deakins' amputated finger is whole again when he hides out in the cave with Teal Eye and the others,
    and in every scene after that.

    Errors in geography
    As Jim and Boone approach St. Louis, Zeb, narrating, says they saw the town across the Missouri River.
    St. Louis is on the Mississippi River, and Jim and Boone, coming from Kentucky,
    would have seen it directly from the east side of that river.

    Crazy Credits
    Instead of the traditional RKO morse code sound, the film's opening theme music
    is played over the RKO radio tower image.
    Later, a title card is displayed explaining the premise of the story.

    Opening credits prologue:
    The early history of America is a tale of great first times.
    There were men who were the first to cross new prairies and new mountains,
    the first to find gold, silver and copper; to plow new wheat fields and build new settlements.

    This is the story of another of the great American firsts--
    the tale of the first men who took a keelboat up the wild
    and unexplored Missouri River--who poled, pulled and rowed their way from
    St. Louis through 2000 miles of hostile Indian country to the hills of Montana
    and opened a new land for the future - - The Great Northwest.

    Memorable Quotes

    Filming Locations
    Idaho, USA
    Snake River, Wyoming, USA
    Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA
    Grand Teton National Park, Moose, Wyoming, USA
    Jackson Hole, Wyoming, USA

    Best Wishes
    London- England

  • The Big Sky is a 1952 American Western film produced and directed by
    Howard Hawks, based on the novel of the same name.
    The cast includes Kirk Douglas, Dewey Martin, Elizabeth Threatt and Arthur Hunnicutt,
    who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
    Though not considered among Hawks's major achievements by most critics,
    the film was chosen by Jonathan Rosenbaum for his alternative list of the Top 100 American Films.

    Apart from Duke 'Pal' Kirk Douglas, look out for
    Hank Worden as Poordevil, dubbed with a strange voice!

    User Review

    Very Authentic Fur Trader Adventure; Not Fast-Paced But Engrossing
    22 June 2005 | by silverscreen888

    This feature is an exercise in pure filmic story-telling for Howard Hawks; and the talented veteran director appears to enjoys this unusual freedom from having to worry about indoor sets, intricate lighting setups and costume designs (although Dorthy Jeakins' costumes are wonderful). Here he gets to realize the best elements of A.B. Guthrie's tough novel of the early West, "The Big Sky". Bringing to life the major characters of this exciting adventure are Kirk Douglas as happy-go-lucky Jim Deakins, Dewey Martin, adequate as Boone Caudill, Arthur Hunnicut in award-winning form as Uncle Zeb, Jim Davis as Streak, Steven Geray lovable as Frenchie, owner of the riverboat, the Mandan, Hank Worden as Poor Devil, and Elizabeth Threatt as Teal Eye, the Amerind girl Geray is returning so they can open fur trade with the proud and wary Bl to enliven the story by playing up the differences between Martin and Threatt one of h signature male-female disagreements. Douglas and the other two form an interesting love triangle; and the climax that requires Martin to decide whether he is going to turn down what Douglas would give anything he has to obtain is very satisfying to my way of thinking. This a film that is atmospheric, always interesting, and a first-rate look at the old West as it was before it was changed forever. The characters' comments on the ant-hill aspects of overcrowded St. Louis, the jumping-off-place to the west, population 12,000, tell us that we are in a different, simpler and cleaner era of civilization. This is one of the best films about the era of the fur trappers and their ways and trade ever produced in every way

    Best Wishes
    London- England