Weekend Viewing Roundup.. Musings on Duel in the Sun

Happy Monday, folks, hope the weekend’s been treatin’ you right.

It’s a nice mellow one for me, mellow enough to give me some time to see the animated birdie movie Rio which was quite fun, Immortals (review coming later this week) and to go huntin’ for some Gregory Peck DVDs 😀 Thanks to a good sale at Barnes & Noble, I managed to score four DVDs at 40% off, not bad at all! On top of Roman Holiday, now I’ve got Duel in the Sun, Gentlemen’s Agreement, The Keys to the Kingdom and Spellbound. I’ve only managed to watch Duel in the Sun and part of the special features for Gentlemen’s Agreement. Well let’s just say, I truly got it bad for Mr. Peck. I’ve since ordered this 6-disc collection to continue my GP marathon 😀

Duel in the Sun

I plan on doing a Gregory Peck review series when I’m done with at least ten of his films in the future, but for now I can’t seem to get Duel in the Sun out of my mind. This classic western was produced by David O. Selznick who wished it’d repeat the massive success of the Civil War epic Gone with the Wind. But it pales in comparison surely in terms of script and overall production, and I totally see what the critics were saying about it being overwrought and over-acted (especially by its star Jennifer Jones, Selznick’s own wife).

The Cain and Abel allegory of the two brothers vying for the exotic woman Pearl Chavez is pretty sexually-charged for its day, aptly dubbed as Lust in the Dust by reviewers back in the day. In fact, my research about this movie told me that this film was heavily-edited in order to please the Hays Code censors and religious review boards. Rape scenes became love scenes and the sexuality of the movie was played down (per this in-depth review). Now I’m not advocating rape scenes in any way shape or form as I can’t bear watching something like that in a film, but it seems that altering the scene basically changed the story in a major way. I mean, they made Pearl a willing participant instead of a victim.

Though Jones was no Vivien Leigh, she definitely had that fire in her eyes as a ‘half-breed’ wild cat (I hate the way they call her that, it’s so darn degrading!). Gregory Peck was pretty darn convincing as the villain. His carnal, unscrupulous Lewt McCanles made even Rhett Butler look like nothing more than a mischievous altar boy! Who knew Peck could play a bad-to-the-bone scoundrel but man, did he pull it off beautifully, if only he’d done more bad-boy roles in his career. He complemented his devilish smile with that twinkle in his eye every time he’s got his less-than-honorable designs on his girl. If I had seen this film, I’d have put him on top of this Scene-stealing Bad Boys list!

The film also boasts one of the most over-the-top yet memorable death scenes, in the guiltiest pleasure kind of way. No wonder it’s included in AMC’s Filmsite’s Best Film Death Scenes. Even with the ridiculous amount of massacre and body slashin’ in Immortals, none is quite as memorable as this one. If you’ve seen this film you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Lewt: You always said you could shoot. I never believed ya.
Pearl: Lewt, I love you. I love you.
Lewt: Oh, don’t cry, honey. Don’t cry.
Pearl: I had to do it, Lewt. I had to do it.
Lewt: Of course you did. Let me, let me hold ya.
Pearl: Just hold me. Hold me once more.
Lewt: Little bob-cat. (He died mid-kiss. She died shortly thereafter.)

I normally won’t reveal such a huge spoiler when I talk about a movie, but in this case, the knowledge of the characters’ fate didn’t really derail the film for me. If anything, it made me want to watch it even more just to see just how nuts these two lovers are. It’s definitely a twisted Romeo & Juliet story that’s sure to please hopeless romantics in all of us.

So what did you see this weekend? Do share your thoughts of Duel in the Sun and your own pick of memorable death scenes.

35 thoughts on “Weekend Viewing Roundup.. Musings on Duel in the Sun

  1. Yeah, that’s a pretty memorable death scene. Peck as the villain is the other thing that makes it notable (I always thought classic good guys really did make catchy cads on screen). Good look at this, Ruth.

    I took in three films in the theater and introduced my daughter to a classic Ray Harryhausen on Blu-ray (‘Jason and the Argonaunts’) this weekend: ‘J. Edgar’ (which I did like), ‘Unforgiven’ at the Autry Museum (though I’ve screened it many times, this was first time in 19 years I’ve seen it in darkened movie hall… fantastic), and ‘Immortals’ (yep… a “ridiculous amount of massacre and body slashin’” alright).

    1. p.s., I’m partial to Kevin Spacey’s death in ‘LA Confidential’. Jack Vincennes demise plays entirely across his face as he puts it together and utters just two words in response that he knows with his last conscious thought will be his killer’s undoing. It’s just perfect in my eyes.

      1. Oh yeah, that death scene in LA Confidential is definitely memorable and definitely came out of left field! I literally jumped in my chair when I saw that one. Good one, Michael.

    2. Hi Michael, hope you had a nice weekend. Oh man, I’ve got it baaaaad for Peck, as you can see. I LOVE him as good guys obviously, but I couldn’t help being so attracted to him as a bad boy (quite typical for women I suppose, but fortunately for me, only for the movies, ahah).

      Wow, you watched a lot of movies! I might rent J Edgar, I don’t think I’ll see it on the big screen. Immortals was pure escapist fun for me, and it was worth paying for 3D.

  2. Haven’t seen the Duel sadly but sounds like a good one 🙂 Over the weekend, I only watched one movie: The Tree of Life. A second and third viewing haven’t changed how much I loved that movie despite some of its frustrating flaws. It’s a superb spiritual experience unlike any other.

    1. If you like Westerns, you might enjoy it, Cas. Oh boy, I meant to see Tree of Life but lots of stuff got put on hold as I’m trying to watch as many GP movies right now… I WILL watch that one for sure though, I don’t care what the naysayers said, I have to experience that for myself.

  3. Sounds like you had a good weekend, Ruth. I didn’t watch any movies myself. Went to a wedding on Friday, a birthday party on Saturday, and then finished playing the horror video game Dead Space 2 as my source of entertainment on Sunday. I’ll probably try to catch up on some classic films this week if I have time.

    1. Wow, busy weekend indeed for you. It was that way for me last wknd so I’m glad I got to see a few movies this weekend. I forgot to mention I watched ‘Rio’ also, clearly I only had the one movie in my mind that I forgot I saw that, ahah. Have you seen any Gregory Peck movies??

      1. Hmm… the only one I can think of offhand is Roman Holiday, and I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed it. I really need to see To Kill a Mockingbird, and your review of Spellbound made me bump that up in my Hitchcock queue.

        Duel in the Sun sounds interesting, too. Looking forward to your Gregory Peck marathon! 🙂

        1. To Kill a Mockingbird is on the box set I’m ordering, can’t wait to watch it. I’ll be sure to let you know when my GP marathon starts, he..he..

  4. Ted S.

    This film sounds interesting, I might give a rent. As you know I saw Immortals and didn’t care for it and I thought it didn’t need to be in 3D at all. I might’ve enjoy it more had I saw it in 2D theater.

    I think the most memorable death scene has to be Leo getting his head blown off in The Departed. People who didn’t see the original Hong Kong film totally didn’t expected that to happen, heck I didn’t think they were going to do that for the remake since Hollywood tends to go with happy ending.

      1. Ted S.

        Yeah in my opinion you didn’t miss much Michael, the film was already darkly photographed and with 3D it’s even darker. I couldn’t even recall if there were any cool 3D effects in the film. I only saw Tron: Legacy, Avatar and the last Harry Potter film in 3D and I remember those films has some very cool and realistic 3D effects.

    1. I don’t think the 3D added much but it didn’t hurt either. I think I was sort of predisposed to liking it considering the director and lead, I’m just glad I wasn’t disappointed.

      I haven’t seen The Departed, but I have no interest to see it. And since I know the ending, well no need to see it I guess, ha..ha..

      1. Ted S.

        Oops! Sorry I guess I should’ve put in a spoiler warning there, thought you already saw it. Now that wasn’t really the ending though, some other big name actor got his head blown off at the end too. Ha ha.

        1. No worries, Ted. I have no intention in seeing it. Well looks like a helluva heads explodin’ in that one, but I bet it won’t beat Immortals, ahah.

  5. Hi, Ruth and company:

    Great choice and write up!

    Peck didn’t get many death scenes, but when he did, he swung for the bleachers and connected.

    Always been drawn to Steve McQueen’s death scenes in ‘The Sand Pebbles’ and ‘Hell Is For Heroes’.

    The former is sad and drawn out and very moving. While his death scene in ‘Hell Is For Heroes’ comes out of left field and takes your breath away.

    Still think Peck rocks out loud with a quiet demeanor in ’12 O’ Clock High’ and is pleasantly goofy in a Jimmy Stewart way in ‘Roman Holiday’.

    Caught up on my war films over the weekend. ‘They Were Expendable’ is still an under rated masterpiece.

    Watched and reviewed ‘Extreme Prejudice’. Check your E-Mail.

    1. Ha..ha.. your comment always makes me smile, Jack! I love that ‘bleachers’ comment and oh so true!!

      Darn it, I almost bought ’12 O’Clock High’ but I put it back, I’m gonna have to do get that now after you mentioned it.

      I replied to your email already, sir 😀

    1. Ha..ha.. actually, it’s Gerry with a ‘G’ also, so apparently I have a thing for gorgeous guys whose name starts w/ that letter, ha..ha..

    1. Well there’ll be plenty to get your hands on, but this one and Spellbound are both a good place to start 😀

      Oh yeah, I remember that death scene. I guess both Caesar and Antony both have memorable deaths!

  6. Sounds like you had a lovely weekend.

    I am totally jealous of you looking back at Mr Peck. I really wish I could find as much enjoyment in old films as I want to.

    I just seem to ignore them and look to modern film. HMMM this really needs to be sorted out.

    I look forward to your review of Immortals.

    1. Hey matey, I guess I’m just smitten out of my wits by Mr. Peck, which made the films even more enjoyable than they already are. I saw a film of his w/ Ava Gardner, now she’s soooo beautiful you might easily get a crush on her! 😉

  7. I haven’t seen very many Gregory Peck films at all. One of my sisters, on the other hand, would LOVE to read your Peek at Peck’s Pictures summary when you have compiled it!

    Since this one has one of the greatest death scenes of all time, it def sounds worth a look! Glad you could have such a great weekend!

    1. Which one have you seen, T? I’m continuing my GP marathon as I can’t get enough of this dashing gentleman, ahah. I never ever felt like I wanted to live in any other era besides today, but seeing him in those films made me wish I could be transported back to the 40s or 50s to meet him, ahah. Kind of like in Midnight in Paris, y’know. Hmmm, maybe I’ll create a short story of some sort about that, stay tuned 😀

  8. Phew, you have certainly got a thing for Mr Peck, haven’t you Ruth! While I remember, I loved your birthday post for Gerry 😀

    Good review, Ruth. I’ve added this film to my rental list. Thinking about it, apart from a few like Cowboys & Aliens and Tombstone, I don’t think I’ve seen a Western that doesn’t have Clint Eastwood in it! A Western with Gregory Peck would be a nice change 😛

    I had a good, relaxed weekend. Hung out with some work friends Saturday night and started my Christmas shopping on Sunday!

    1. Yes Claire, that’s what you’d call smitten out of your wits 🙂 Believe it or not, he was quite distracting that I was almost late in posting my b’day post on Gerry, ahah.

      If you’d like to see a classic Western with an unlikely baddie, then I definitely suggest this one. Be careful though, you might fall for Mr. Peck like I did, he..he..

      Christmas shopping already?? Wow, I admire your tenacity, girl!

  9. I saw and reviewed 2 Cillian Murphy’s movies (Retreat and In Time),and Tintin. all as I expected them to be. Retreat is great, In Time sucks,and Tin Tin is fun.

    I can’t tell you what I thought of Duel In The Sun…I don’t watch old movies 😉
    Hmmm…the quote is a little bit too cheezy for my taste

    1. Sorry I haven’t got time to catch up on your posts, will do so later today. I could tell you won’t like In Time. It’s a shame they didn’t cast Cillian in Justin’s role!!

      Ahah, well it IS cheesy Nov, that’s why I said it’s a guilty pleasure. But Gregory’s performance makes up for all that 😀

  10. I watched and wrote about “Duel in the Sun” for your Peck birthday event (sending you the link soon!) but I had to pull up your take on it and check it out.

    I loved Gregory Peck in it. You said it right: “Carnal and unscrupulous.” Totally. And that smile! Man, what impressive work from a guy everyone just kind of thinks of in one light.

    That said, I gotta say I didn’t much care for the rest. I don’t want to give it all away, but I had some real problems with the Jones character.

    1. Woo hoo!! I’m so glad you’re gonna review it for GP’s b’day! Peck was great wasn’t he? People always think of him as the dignified Atticus and think of him as a ‘stiff’ actor, obviously they haven’t seen him in this one!! There’s barely any redemptive quality about Lewt but boy was he sexy! I could not take my eyes off him. That part when his brother Joseph slapped him and the camera closed in on him as he spit the blood out of his mouth, I think that’s one of my favorite scenes. He looked so deliciously evil, ahah.

      As for Jones, oh yeah I thought she was way over the top and not even in a good way. I don’t know what kind of direction she got from the director as she’s actually ok in another film (The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, also co-starring w/ Peck) but she’s darn irritating as Pearl and downright silly.

  11. Pingback: Happy Birthday You Ol’ Westerner: Gregory Peck | It Rains… You Get Wet

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