The Big Country is a 1958 American Western film directed by William Wyler. It stars Gregory Peck, who also co-produced the film with Wyler, plus Jean Simmons, Carroll Baker, Charlton Heston, Burl Ives, Charles Bickford, and Chuck Connors. It was based on the serialized magazine novel Ambush at Blanco Canyon by Donald Hamilton. The opening title sequence was created by Saul Bass. Ives won the Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor as well as the Golden Globe Award. The film was also nominated for an Academy Award for the musical score by Jerome Moross. Wealthy, newly retired sea captain James McKay (Gregory Peck) travels to the American West to join his fiancée Patricia (Carroll Baker) at the enormous ranch owned by her father, Major Terrill (Charles Bickford). Terrill has been feuding with Rufus Hannassey (Burl Ives), the patriarch of a poorer, less refined ranching clan. Patricia's friend, schoolteacher Julie Maragon (Jean Simmons), owns the "Big Muddy", a large ranch with a vital water supply.
The Big Country is a Big Movie, long, majestic, and filled with Shakespearean overtones. This William Wyler western has never found classic status, but it’s a worthwhile and very well-made production. Charlton Heston steals the show as the ranch foreman to a wealthy landowner feuding with his neighbors; Gregory Peck makes a minimal impression as a sea captain who arrives on the scene to marry the ranch owner’s daughter — only to get caught up in the squabble. Burl Ives (yes, Burl Ives) won an Oscar for playing the neighbor, Rufus. This one’s been lost to time for the most part, but Wyler fans will eat it up.