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The Big Sky Reviews

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August 26, 2014
I think I was ready for a boffo adventure story and this Howard Hawks picture, featuring a group of men traveling up the Missouri River to the Pacific Northwest to do some trading with the Blackfoot Indians, hit the spot. Kirk Douglas and Dewey Martin star as a couple of rough and ready young guys who join up with Uncle Zeb (Arthur Hunnicutt) and a band of French outdoorsmen for the long journey. Hawks is great at creating a sense of community and his combination of sets and location shooting make the drama feel almost real. There are a number of different exciting episodes along the way and of course a love interest in the form of a Blackfoot maid, brought along on the trip. The relationship between Douglas and Martin - and with the woman Teal Eye - doesn't always hold together properly. Viewers likely prefer the adventure story and perhaps Hawks did too.
PEM D.
May 3, 2014
This was one of Hawks most loved films (please read Hawks on Hawks). It was unfortunately cut after it's opening in Chicago to accommodate requests from the theatre houses. Hawks felt that the 21 minutes that were removed harmed his work. Having just seen this film with all its' removed sections...I agree! :-)
May 16, 2012
Howard Hawks' "The Big Sky" could be seen as the spiritual successor to "Red River", which he made four years earlier. Both are stories of the American west, of adventure and brotherhood, and the excitement of living a life of freedom in the wild. But where Red River was more a battle of wills, Big Sky is a testament to brotherly love. In it, two frontiersmen, Jim and Boone (Kirk Douglas, Dewey Martin) are fast friends seeking adventure. They find it in the form of uncle Zeb Calloway (Arthur Hunnicutt, in an oscar-nominated performance) who knows of some french traders about to travel up the Missouri river in a flat bottom boat to do some fur trading. The "big" fur-trading company in those parts has so far met with little success with the hostile indians, but this french company has a secret ace-in-the-hole in the form of "Teal Eye" (Elizabeth Threatt), a blackfoot princess whose father will surely reward them handsomely for returning her home safely. That is, if they survive their journey.

Jim and Boone live out under the open sky. They feel uncomfortable in the big city and comment on how "city men walk" and how the women are cinched up in their dresses like sacks that've been tied up too tight. There is a particular irony to Boone, who hates injuns (they killed his brother, and he carries the scalp of the one who did it, according to his uncle), yet there burns within him the desire to live as they do, simply and off the land. The indians in Big Sky are treated not as "the bad guys" as they so often were in films from this period, but as individuals and individual tribes, some good, some bad. Probably the most fair treatment native Americans had received in the movies at the time. But more than anything, it's the journey upriver that features so heavily in this film. It's a journey fraught with indians, rushing waters, rattlesnakes, fires, bullets and arrows... and it's quite a satisfying journey at that.
Mr Awesome
Mr Awesome

Super Reviewer

May 16, 2012
Howard Hawks' "The Big Sky" could be seen as the spiritual successor to "Red River", which he made four years earlier. Both are stories of the American west, of adventure and brotherhood, and the excitement of living a life of freedom in the wild. But where Red River was more a battle of wills, Big Sky is a testament to brotherly love. In it, two frontiersmen, Jim and Boone (Kirk Douglas, Dewey Martin) are fast friends seeking adventure. They find it in the form of uncle Zeb Calloway (Arthur Hunnicutt, in an oscar-nominated performance) who knows of some french traders about to travel up the Missouri river in a flat bottom boat to do some fur trading. The "big" fur-trading company in those parts has so far met with little success with the hostile indians, but this french company has a secret ace-in-the-hole in the form of "Teal Eye" (Elizabeth Threatt), a blackfoot princess whose father will surely reward them handsomely for returning her home safely. That is, if they survive their journey.

Jim and Boone live out under the open sky. They feel uncomfortable in the big city and comment on how "city men walk" and how the women are cinched up in their dresses like sacks that've been tied up too tight. There is a particular irony to Boone, who hates injuns (they killed his brother, and he carries the scalp of the one who did it, according to his uncle), yet there burns within him the desire to live as they do, simply and off the land. The indians in Big Sky are treated not as "the bad guys" as they so often were in films from this period, but as individuals and individual tribes, some good, some bad. Probably the most fair treatment native Americans had received in the movies at the time. But more than anything, it's the journey upriver that features so heavily in this film. It's a journey fraught with indians, rushing waters, rattlesnakes, fires, bullets and arrows... and it's quite a satisfying journey at that.
February 10, 2012
howard hawks directs this action westerner
January 11, 2012
The extended cut of this (or rather the original cut) is quite interesting. However, the quality of the print is so poor due to the fact a 16mm source of the extra footage had to be used. I found it too distracting especially since the film aims for great visuals. As for the film itself, it's an intriguing and often eclectic film that almost prefigures Werner Herzog's Aguirre The Wrath of God at times.
allyclow
February 23, 2011
The Big Sky is a proper boys own adventure and that fact shouldn't be surprising when one knows it was directed by Howard Hawks. The fact that the 'boys' would more likely be Truffaut and Godard rather than the freckled boy scouts of America prove the cinematic drive behind the film is equal to the story it tells. But what a story. Herzog's Fitzcarraldo is only a shade mor epic in scope than this production that was filmed almost in its entirety by the banks of and in the Missouri river from St Louis to the north-west of the country. Kirk Douglas and Dewey Martin play mountain men loners Jim Deakins and Boone Caudell who start a friendship that takes them to St Louis to find Boone's uncle Zeb. When they find him, Zeb is on the eve of a great journey into Indian territory with a crew of French traders headed by the charismatic Jourdonnais (Steven Geray) and add the two huntsmen to their crew. Over the next two hours, everything you could expect happens to the boat and its men, along with a burgeoning attraction for the ship's biggest asset, Teal Eye, a member of the Black Crow tribe who the traders are returning to her tribe. Her affections are of course fought most fiercely over by Deakins and Caudell and this is a typically Hawksian device which delivers a near unsolvable problem until brotherhood intervenes and makes things ok again. The best performance in the film is Arthur Hunnicutt as Zeb who plays the Walter Huston role of humorous sage nut all the players are on good form as the film veers from one scrape to the next. Not Hawks' best but one typical of the great director.
August 17, 2010
Exceptional Hawks' film with Kirk Douglas and Dewey Martin as fur traders making their way up the Missouri River in the 1830s. The film focuses on the relationships between the individual characters - fur traders and Native Americans. The script is drawn from exceptional source material - the AB Guthrie novel of the same name. A treat to watch.
bobolinq
March 29, 2010
a thoroughly enjoyable movie. douglas, martin and hunnicutt made a memorable trio. their escapades, albiet, of the era and rough around the edges, were both varied and entertaining. in the rag man's son, douglas recounts his conquest of elizabeth threatt along the river bank during a shooting break. she played the beautiful indian girl tealeye.
Dracula787
Dracula787

Super Reviewer

August 15, 2009
I?ve begun to have my reservations about the works of Howard Hawks, his work always just seems kind of silly to me, especially when compared to what John Ford was doing. This is a pretty good western, but not the greatest. First of all, the film?s treatment of Indians is a little better than some of the other movies of the time (not that much, but a little). Secondly, there?s a lot of good scenery here, and the technical filmmaking is pretty good. All of that makes this worth seeing, but I can?t recommend it too strongly. I just didn?t connect with the story very much, and Kirk Douglass seems a bit out of place in this setting. Also it has a very annoying voice over.
Red L

Super Reviewer

December 28, 2008
An old movie with cowboys and Indians. This movie is OK - at least it doesn't automatically paint all Injuns as evil. Interesting that most of the time they walk the ship up the river. That certainly is not what they teach us about the river highways of Canada's fur trade.
December 9, 2008
one of my fave westerns
jrhtarkus
March 27, 2008
Big Sky, Big Movie! Great cast. Don't miss it!
jaysgrandmother
June 12, 2007
A very good movie. A good western.
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