Saturday, February 28, 2009

Duel in the Sun (1946)

I watched this move months ago now and I still don't know what to make of it. It was too dark to be "lurid, stupid fun" (as one web critic put it on Rotten Tomatoes) and too over-blown and backward to be the ahead of it's time Jeremiad on racism that it aimed to be.

Still, there is much to admire in Duel in the Sun. Gregory Peck gives a first rate performance as the bad son who winds up loving Jennifer Jones to death. For her part, she plays the confused, conflicted "half breed" with a nice mixture of sultry and sweet. The victim of racism, rape and just plain bad luck, she ends up loosing the love of good son, Joseph Cotton and is left to the mercy of the bad one. Turns out mercy just really isn't his style.

The movie comes to a bloody, twisted end in the titular duel, with Jennifer Jones arriving in gauchos on a horse (I love movies where women wear gauchos, which is why I mention it...) to seemingly save Peck who is on the lam for shooting Joseph Cotten (also in the sun, but that is less than a duel). When Peck shows his lovely, unshaven face, she pulls out a rifle and blows him away. He shoots her back because, gosh darn it, that really hurt! They spend the next ten minutes dragging their bloodied half dead bodies toward one another to die in one another's arms. Man, somebody involved in writing this picture must have just gotten out of a really bad relationship. I have a soft spot for fatalistic love stories like this and any movie where a guy is so hot that you stay with him even though you know he will probably be the death of you, is one that I can't resist.


SteveQ said...

Duel in the Sun was nicknamed Lust in the Dust - and then there was a campy remake with that name; if you want trash, thar she blows! Interesting to see what your weakness is plotwise - mine is children during war (Forbidden Games, Hope and Glory, Life Is Beautiful, Empire of the Sun); Gene Siskel's were baseball, dogs and math... and his reviews showed it.

Jennythenipper said...

Believe it or not, I've actually seen Lust in the Dust. I remember it was sort of like a really dirty Blazing Saddles, only not as funny.

I love Hope and Glory. I will have to rewatch that one soon. The phrase "mad on jam" as in "Hitler knows we're mad on jam" has made it into my personal lexicon. I think it would make an excellent band name.

My weakness for movies where a guy is so hot that you stay with him despite the fact that he will probably be the death of you is showing itself in that I feel an overwhelming urge to watch Suspicion again.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jenny. *waves* I finally made it here. :)

You know,I have a love/hate relationship with this movie. The love? Peck (oh he can shoot me as much as he wants), Cotten (I just want to snuggle him), Barrymore, Gish. The hate? Jennifer Jones.

I have a love/hate relationship with her anyway, and in this movie she is so over the top it is ridiculous. But maybe that's the point. And maybe it's why I can't help but devote the 3 hours of my life to watching this melodrama every single time it comes on.

It's an addiction.

Nancy "Beaky" Bruce said...

Love LOve LOVE this movie.

I think it's one of Peck's best performances.

Think you need to see Undercurrent, Nipper, if you haven't yet.

Jennythenipper said...

Hey Kittenbiscuits, glad to see you made it. Was it you by any chance that posted the Shadow of a Doubt "My OTP" on Fandom Secrets?
C'mon you can admit that here!

kittenbiscuits said...

Nope that wasn't me.

Jennythenipper said...

Thanks Beaky! I'll add Undercurrent to the list. Reading the movie's description on IMDB. I was a bit shocked. In a million years I wouldn't have cast it that way Taylor=bad brother, Mitchum=good brother. Guess I've seen "Night of the Hunter" too many times.

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