The Big Country (1958) - full transcript

Retired, wealthy sea Captain Jame McKay arrives in the vast expanse of the West to marry fiancée Pat Terrill. McKay is a man whose values and approach to life are a mystery to the ranchers and ranch foreman Steve Leech takes an immediate dislike to him. Pat is spoiled, selfish and controlled by her wealthy father, Major Henry Terrill. The Major is involved in a ruthless civil war, over watering rights for cattle, with a rough hewn clan led by Rufus Hannassey. The land in question is owned by Julie Maragon and both Terrill and Hannassey want it.

Those that are gonna go on, one hour to eat, folks,

while we change the horses.

- Let me help you, ma'am.
- Thank you.

- Good bye.
- Bye, Mr. McKay.

Look at that.

- All right, Clint, turn 'em around.
- Giddup, Robbie! Giddup!

Mr. McKay?


- I'm Steve Leech, foreman at Ladder Ranch.
- How do you do?

I brought you Pat's Buckboard and team.

She's waiting with a friend just around the corner.

Thank you. That's very kind.

I was beginning to think I was in the wrong town.

This your gear?

That's right.

I don't know as I'd wear that hat
too long around here, Mr. McKay.

Why not?

One of these wild cowboys

might take it into his head to shoot it off you.

Thank you, Mr. Leech.

How do you do, Mr. Leech?

Boys, don't you know enough to tip your hats

when the foreman of Ladder goes by?

Come on, let's get outta here.

Pat! Pat!


Darling, I can't believe you're really here.

- You don't know how long it's been.
- Don't I, though?

If I'd known how much I'd miss you,
I'd have made you marry me in Baltimore.

- You haven't changed your mind?
- Do I act like it?

Although you must have wondered
when I wasn't at the hotel to meet you.

I declare, I wasn't gone more than a minute.

We're gonna be a public scandal.

My hair's still not the way I planned it.

And I know my nose is red
from waiting in the sun without a hat on.

I'm so glad to see you, I could cry.

- Thanks for bringing him to me, Steve.
- You're welcome.

Anything else I can do?

No. If you're through in town,
why don't you go back to Ladder?

Don't you want me to ride back with you?

Heavens, no. We'll take our time.
We'd only hold you up.

The reason I mentioned it
is that the Hannassey boys are in town.

- They've been drinking.
- We'll be all right, Steve.

Just as you say, Miss Terrill.

Thank you, Mr. Leech.

Who lives here?

My friend, Julie Maragon.

She's the local schoolteacher.

- Am I still your girl?
- You better be.

All right, Julie, you can come out now.

I've finished kissing him for a minute or two.


She's gone.

You know, I think I'm gonna like Julie.

- Don't mind me. I'm just passing through.
- Julie, you idiot, come on back here.

This is Jim.

I certainly hope so.

- Hello, Jim.
- Hello, Julie.

What do you think of him?

- You don't look like a sailor.
- You don't look like a school marm, either.

I didn't say he was a sailor.
I said he was a ship's captain.

His family owns a whole shipping line.

But honestly, darlin',
you do look funny out here in those clothes.

That's what Mr. Leech said,
when he saw me in that hat.

We should've stayed in town,
got some girls and more liquor.

Maybe we got us something better.

There's Pat Terrill and her Eastern dude.

Let's give him a welcome.

Get up outta there.

The Hannassey bunch. Local trash.
Keep on driving, Jim.

- Looks like they want to talk.
- Don't stop. Go right on through.

Let's go after them.

Whoa, DOV!

Whoa, DOV!

Whoa, DOV!


Howdy, Miss Terrill.

That wasn't very social back there.

Whaddaya know! We got a gentleman with us.

Don't it make you boys feel kind of dirty
to look at such a handsome gentleman

all dressed up in a fancy suit?

Miss Terrill, ain't you gonna introduce me
to your intended?

I wouldn't introduce you to a dog.

The name is McKay.

Polite, too.

Neat, clean, and polite.

But I sure do like your hat.

- All right, that's enough.
- Pat!


Head her off there, Rafe!

Look what I got!

- Buck, I got me a young one!
- Stop it! Let me out of here!

Don't you lay a hand on him, Buck Hannassey!

Gimme that hat!

Buck Hannassey!

Don't you touch him! Don't you touch him!
You let me out of here!

All right, turn him loose.

Miss Terrill, he ain't much of a man.

You better send him back where he come from.

Jim, are you hurt, darling? I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.

I'm all in one piece, I guess.

I'm so humiliated having this happen
to you your first clay here.

Don't worry about it.

Greenhorns always have to get knocked around.

Why did you take the rifle away from me?

- I didn't even know you had one.
- Why did you take it?

Why? I didn't think you wanted to shoot anybody.

The Hannasseys?
I'd just as soon shoot 'em as look at 'em.

You don't mean that. They were just showing off.

I didn't want to let it get serious.

Jim, you didn't think that was serious?

Not really, no.

Aren't you even angry?


- I wish you hadn't taken my rifle.
- It's all over now.

We're both all right.

Not very good shots, are they?

Or maybe this is a better hat than I thought.

- Glad we're getting there.
- Yeah. We'll be there before dark.

- Where you goin'?
- I'm in a mood to go courtin'.

The school ma rm?

How are the lessons coming? You gonna get promoted?

Surprised you, didn't I?

You should've seen yourself.
You jumped like a shot deer.

- Knock before you come in.
- I knocked. You didn't hear me.

Don't come in until I hear you. What do you want?

I just dropped by to see how you was.

You ought to keep your door locked.

- Why?
- Why, ma'am, a pretty woman living alone?

That's kind of a temptation in the land of men.

That's soup, ain't it?

Looks thin.

Don't stick to your ribs like beef and beans.

But it ain't bad.
You're a good cook for a school marm.

Thank you.

Julie, I can just picture us,
together out on the Big Muddy.

The lamp lit, you cookin', me eatin'.

Happy as two little doggies at a water hole.

I'm enchanted.

That's another thing I like about you,
teacher, all them words you know.

And the way you sashay down the street,

smilin' when we meet, passing a word or two.

You been leading me on, teacher.

You're crazy. I been pleasant to you, that's all.

You ain't foolin' old Buck.

By the way, I just stopped to pass the time of clay

with your high-and-mighty friend,
Pat Terrill, and her intended.

He sure is a dude. That the kind of a man you want?

With a bow tie and fancy hat, no nerve to hold a gun.

That's enough out of you, Buck. You'd better leave.

You know something, Julie?

If we was to join your Big Muddy with our place,

the Terrill's would dry up like jimsonweed.

- Will you leave?
- I talked it over with Pa.

He likes the idea. So do I.

Let go of me.

You're scared, ain't ya?
I like a woman that's scared of me.

And if a woman was to tell the truth,
she likes a man who scares her a little.

You must be drunk.

All right, teacher.

Remember, the Terrills ain't no friends of ours.

I'll choose my own friends.

That won't do.

You gotta be on one side or the other.
You can't have it both ways.

School's over for today, teacher, but I'll be back.

- Morning.
- Howdy.

- Morning.
- Howdy.

- Howdy.
- Good morning.

Buenos dias, senor.

Buenos dias.

How do you do? My name is McKay.

- Buenos dias.
- Buenos dias!

Tell me.

How many head of cattle do you have here?

- You speak Spanish?
- No. I understand you though, perfectly.

Que bueno.

- Morning.
- Morning, Mr. Leech.

- You care to go riding this morning?
- Yes. I'd like to very much.

Ramén, saddle up a good horse for Mr. McKay.

Yes, sir.

- How well you ride?
- I've ridden some in the East.

Different saddle, though.

If you can sit one saddle, you can sit 'em all.

Ramén, put him up on Old Thunder.

Right over here.

Any time you're ready.

Nice clay, isn't it?

Some other time, Leech.


We got a chuck wagon horse down at the big barn.

- Morning, Jim.
- Morning, Major.

Whoa! Whoa!

Morning, Major.

The boys always try to put a stranger on Old Thunder.

- It's sort of a standing joke.
- I see.

What time do you want to get started, Major?

Any time. Just let me know when you're ready.

- Have some breakfast with me, Jim.
- Thank you.

My daughter's not an early riser,
as you'll soon discover.

Don't let anything Steve Leech said bother you.

He doesn't bother me. I seem to bother him.

Steve's a little rough, but he's a fine boy.
Came here as a tow-headed youngster,

with nothing but the clothes he wore
and the horse he rode.

A saddle tramp at 14.

Now I doubt there's a finer foreman
in this entire country.

I raised him, made a man of him.

I see.

Jim, I'm glad to have this chance
to talk to you alone.

I know Patricia's impulsiveness.

Frankly, I feared an elopement
back there in Baltimore.

I owe it to you that I'll have the pleasure
of seeing her married in this house.

I owe it to you that I'll have
the pleasure and privilege

of marrying an exceptional girl.

We ought to do this thing properly.

We'll do our best to oblige.

- What are your plans for the future?
- A little vague at the moment.

If it's romance you're after,
you'll certainly find it here.

No prettier sight in the world,
than 10,000 head of cattle.

Unless it's 50,000.

And we can have that many one day, too.

This country's as big as the sea, Jim,
and offers a man the same challenge.

I can see that.


Pat tells me you're something of
an authority on weapons.

- Thought you might like to have these.
- Dueling pistols.

Now, this is mighty kind of you, Jim.

Just about the finest I ever saw.


Wonderful balance.

Made by John Nock of London.

None better.

They've been used.

Yes, they belonged to my father.

Jim, I know how proud you are of his memory.

We loved him, Major.

We were just as proud of him when he was alive.

A man's honor and his good name
are his finest possessions.

I agree, but his good name needed no defense.

His honor was beyond question.

No one remembers exactly
what that last duel was about.

Here in the west, Jim, a man
is still expected to defend himself.

If he allows people to think he won't,
he's in trouble, bad trouble.

You're speaking about what happened yesterday.

I'm not implying any criticism,
but your gentlemanly forbearance

is misplaced when you're dealing with the Hannasseys.

I can't say that I enjoyed it.

But, I've gone through rougher hazing in college

and at sea, I was keelhauled
the first time I crossed the equator.

Perhaps you did the right thing, Pat being there.

I don't know that I would've acted
differently if she hadn't been.

They weren't dangerous, just drunk.

I've run into Hannasseys in ports all over the world.

That's where you're wrong, Jim.

The Hannasseys are trash.
There's no other word for it. They're trash.

They're as prolific as animals,
and they live like animals.

Rufus, the head of the clan,
is something out of the stone age.

They live like a pack of wild clogs
up in Blanco Canyon.

The eldest of the litter, Buck, you've met.

They're a pest, a plague, like Sodom and Gomorrah.

Be a blessing for this country,
if a flood would wipe them

off the face of the earth.

Good morning!

I overslept and on your first morning, too.

You look...

I thought I was up early until I went out walking.

No. On Ladder the people wake up the roosters.

- Morning, darlin'.
- Hi, darling.

What's this?

Pistols and coffee.

I'll have coffee, Pedro.

What've you two been up to?

You don't know each other
well enough to fight a duel.

Gift from Jim.

We're about ready for you, Major. Mornin', Pat.

Morning, Steve.

- Where you off to?
- A little hunting expedition.

Good. Jim going with you?

No. I think perhaps Jim would rather be with you.

- After all, he just arrived.
- Of course.

- I'll get a gun, Steve. Be right with you.
- Yes, sir.

You and I will ride out
and survey the family acres, darlin'.

All right.

I don't believe Mr. McKay cares much for horses.

Don't tell me they got you
on Old Thunder this morning.

They tried.

Mr. McKay said some other time, whatever that means.

It means some other time.

Darling, everybody tries to ride Old Thunder.

They do? Why?

Why? I don't know. They just always do.

- What are you hunting today, Mr. Leech?
- Hannasseys.


Didn't you tell the Major
that there was no real trouble yesterday

until you reached for that rifle?

No. I don't think it would've made any difference.

You can tell him if you want to.

You don't mean you're actually
gonna go and shoot somebody

because of what happened yesterday?

No. Just teach 'em a little lesson.

Major, I don't want to be the cause
of any further trouble.

You'd be doing me a great favor
if you'll call this off, and forget it.

Forget it?

When a guest can't visit my house without
being attacked by drunken rowdies

it's time something was clone.

- But there was...
- Please.

The Major's doing what he thinks is right.
He knows how to handle these people.

I was the one who was roped and knocked...

Come with us!

We'll cut Buck Hannassey,
you can settle with him yourself.

There's nothing to settle. Not this way.

Now look, Jim, what you don't realize
is that the nearest law

is at the county seat, 200 miles away.

You can't call a policeman here.
You have to be your own law.

That may be, but nothing happened yesterday

to justify this kind of a war party.

You're new here, and you don't know this country.

You'll just have to trust my judgment.


You're riding on the Hannasseys
for reasons of your own.

Not because of anything that happened to me.

Go on this side.

- Where's Rufus?
- He ain't here. What do you want?

- What are you doing here?
- Where is he?

He's down to Three Wells
and he ain't gonna like you riding in here.

- Where's Buck?
- I don't know.

In Rafael, maybe. He ain't here.

- See if she's lying, Steve.
- Jesse, come here.

Search every one of these shacks.

You stay out of this house!

I hope you're enjoying yourself, Major.

He's not in there.

You want that, Major?

Let them have their fun.

You're mighty fine on your horse, Major Terrill,

but someday somebody's gonna pull you off.

Tell Rufus the next time
I'll burn the place to the ground.

- Buck ain't around here.
- Looked all over. Can't find him.

Come on, men.


Yes, Mr. McKay?



- Come on.

- Come on.


I'll give you some help, Ramén.




Why you want to ride him now,
if you don't ride him before?

Don't ask me why, Ramén.

But, Ramén, whatever happens,

this is strictly between you and me
and the horse, right?

- But maybe the senorita...
- Even the senorita.

No one must know. All right?

All right.

- Any advice?
- Yes.

Don't do it.


Cast off. I'm aboard.

No. No.


Pig. I hope they get you.

Here's one of them.

Seems they've been bragging about it all over town.

Where are the others?

There's Rafe.

That's two of them.

- Now there's Blackie.
- Don't forget Buck.

I'm not forgetting Buck.

What you gonna do with us, Major?
We didn't mean no harm.

We were just having a little fun.

What do you think you're doing here?
You got no call to treat us like this!

Pick him up.

- Where's Buck? Where's Buck?
- He lit out early this morning.

He's probably halfway to the Canyon by now.

What you gonna do with us? We didn't mean no harm!

- Shut up!
- Don't crawl to him.

There are women and children here.
Take them down to the livery stable.

Let's go.

You wait till Rufus hears about this.
You ain't gonna feel so damn big then.

We didn't hurt Miss Terrill or her dude none.

Let us go!

You people gonna let them get away with this?

You gonna let them ride into town
and take it over like they own it?

- All right, fellas. Let's get back.
- Back.

Mucho! Bravo!


That's enough, Steve.

- Let's go.
- All right, Major.

Good clay, Mr. Griggs.

But we're civilized now, Mr. McKay.
I hope you'll stay around.

Thanks. I'm thinking about it.

There's plenty of room out here. It's a big country.

Rope him and hog-tie him, Henry.

- Major...
- Jim, about what happened this morning.

I know exactly how you feel.

I don't like violence one bit better than you do.

What we did today had to be clone.

I've tried my hand at talking
to the Hannasseys and it just doesn't work.

- Well...
- Jim, just stand on what I tell you.

Let's close the book on it.

It's going to be a great evening
for you and Patricia.

Julie, my clear. Now the evening can begin.

You know Jim, if I were 20 years younger,
this'd be the girl for me.

- Make it 10. You've met, haven't you?
- Yes, indeed.

- Hello.
- Julie was my welcoming committee.

Yeah. The best horse-trader around.

I just walked in.

You can't be starting on Big Muddy so soon.

Will you please listen to that girl?

I've offered her a bale of money for that
ranch and she throws it back in my face.

Maybe she's like you, she considers
money a corrupting influence.

Where's Pat? Don't tell me. I know.

She's waiting till everyone's here,
so she can make a grand entrance.

- Everyone's here.
- I'll see what I can do.

Julie, I promise not another word about Big Muddy.

- Good.
- Until we have a glass of champagne.

Come in.

Jim, I love you.

I've been so miserable every minute without you.

What have you been doing all clay?

I just sort of poked around the ranch,
and said howdy.

Then I

sort of got the feel of the country.

- Everybody's waiting for you downstairs.
- Good. That's just what I intended.

Hey, you all!

You've already met Jim.

So there's no need for an introduction.

My daughter, Pat, was born and raised among you.

When she made her trip East,

I had no idea that there she'd meet
the man of her choice.

And I want you to know
that I heartily approve of that choice.

And so I say, welcome Jim McKay.

Welcome to Ladder, to this state, and to this house.

Thank you, Major.

Here you are, Jim. It's your party.

- May I?
- Certainly.

You're hurting my hand, Steve.

Mr. McKay, how do you like this country?

- I like it very much.
- Did you ever see anything so big?


- You have? What?
- A couple of oceans.

I declare.

Excuse me.

- May I have the pleasure, Major?
- Certainly, Jim.

Thank you, Julie.

How do you like the Major?

I'm not marrying the Major.


May I have the privilege
of dancing with my beautiful daughter?

- I reckon you've got a right, Major.
- Thank you.

I still think you're the handsomest man in this room.

Know what makes it nice?
I think my little girl really means it.


Happy as you should be tonight?



What'll I do if he decides not to settle here?

I don't think I could stand being away from you.

Don't you worry about that.

I'll make a Terrill out of him yet.

What do you want, Hannassey?

I'm just paying back the call

you and your men made on my home this morning.

Sorry I wasn't there to give you the proper welcome.

- Let him speak his piece.
- Take it easy, boy.

I've got me something to say.
It's about 30 years overdue.

It's a mighty fine house, Major Terrill.

Gentleman's house.

Them's mighty fine clothes you're wearing.

Maybe you've got some of these folks fooled,

but you ain't got me fooled, not by a damn sight.

The Hannasseys know and admire
a real gentlemen when they see one

and they recognize a high-toned skunk
when they smell one.

Now, I'm not here complaining
about 20 of your brave men

who beat three of my boys till they couldn't stand.

Maybe they had it coming.

Anyways, they're full grown
and can take their lickings.

And I'm not here complaining because I know

that you're trying to buy the Big Muddy
to keep my cows from water.

Though it galls me sore to see the granddaughter

of a genuine gentleman
like Clem Maragon under this roof.

I'll tell you why I'm here, Major Terrill!

When you come a riding roughshod over my land

scaring the kids and the women folks.

When you invade my home
like you was the law or God Almighty,

then I say to you,

I've seen every kind of critter God ever made.

I ain't never seen a meaner, lower,
more stinking yellow hypocrite than you.

You can swallow up a lot of folks,
and make them like it,

but you ain't swallowing me.

I'm stuck in your craw, Henry Terrill,
and you can't spit me out.

You'll hear me now.

You rode into my place and beat my men
for the last time,

and I give you warning,
you set foot in Blanco Canyon once more

and this country's gonna run red with blood
till there ain't one of us left.

I don't hold mine so precious,
so if you want to start,

here, start now.

What's the matter?

Can't you shoot a man a facing you?

I'll make it easy for you.

Here's my back.

He certainly said a beard full.

If there's anything I admire
more than a devoted friend,

it's a dedicated enemy.

But I must apologize for this interruption,
for Mr. Hannassey's bad manners.

Please don't let it spoil your evening.

I promise you that this sort of thing
will never happen again.


Jim, now you see what I mean.

Let's have a glass of punch.

With a savage like that, it's dog-eat-dog.

Excuse me.

The old man's looking for you.

You want me, Pa?

Before you was born, I did.

Come here.

Don't you dare look at me like that, boy.
I'll take your hide off.

Who asked you to go a roughing up
old Terrill's son-in-law?

You said to keep pushing the Terrills...

You push them when I say so, when I'm ready.

They come a hellin' in here,
shooting up place when I'm not around.

I never knowed nothing like that was happening.

You never knowed nothing ever.

Where you been all night?

I paid a visit to my schoolteacher.

You're a liar. She was at Terrill's.

I seen her before. We were sparking and kissing.

Julie Maragon's a lady.

Maybe, but she's sweet on me, Pa.

Could it be there's a side to you
that I ain't never seen?

- You ain't lying to me again are you, boy?
- Ain't no cause to lie.

Maybe I'm smarter than you think, Pa.
Don't forget, she owns Big Muddy.

I ain't forgetting that.

That'd be something, boy,
if you was to marry Julie Maragon.

That'd be a miracle, sure enough.

Keep after her. Be nice.

Stop womening around in Rafael. Treat her right.

Take a bath sometime.

Maybe we got us something here
that'll snuff old Terrill out for good.

Treat her right. You hear me?

- Right, I said.
- Yeah, Pa. I will.

Look, there's the mountain behind here,

but it's too dangerous ride alone.

- You get lost.
- You ever seen a compass?


What a funny watch.

A watch only tells the time.

This tells me where I'm going and how to get back.

- Not out here.
- Even out here.

Now, don't forget, Ramén,

you tell Pat and the Major
that I may be out overnight.

I've got everything I need, and they shouldn't worry.

All right.

Didn't you warn him that he might get lost?

Sure. I told him.

And I told him all the country was the same.

Then how could you let him go?

- He's pretty smart man.
- He's a stranger here.

- I don't think he get lost.
- What makes you think he won't?

- Speak up.
- He say not to worry.

He says, he's coming back

and by the way, you know, he's got a funny watch.

Ramén, you're an idiot.
Come on. Show me the way he went.

How could Jim do a thing like that to me?
He must be lost by now.

Yeah, that'd be a real sure enough shame.

Now, wouldn't it?

- You...
- If you ever touch me again...

What are you gonna do, Miss Terrill,
sic your bridegroom on me?

Get out. Get out of here.

Don't worry. I'm going.

I'll even get up a search party,
and go find your wandering boy for you.

He can have you.

I can see you two are just plain made for each other.

Hold it right there!

Put up your hands.

Turn around.

Jim McKay?

What in the world are you doing here?

Just haunting an old house, ma'am.

You're too noisy for a ghost.

Where's Pat?
Surely you're not riding around here alone.

If you're going to tell me this is a big
country, I'm gonna be disappointed in you.

But it is a big country, isn't it?

You shouldn't be wandering around here by yourself.

People have gotten lost out here.

I had a map.

You're either east or west of the river,
north or south of the road.

And I had a compass.

I just plotted a course, and navigated my way here.

Welcome aboard, skipper.

This must have been a fine old house in its clay.

People used to come from 100 miles
to my grandfather's parties.

I come out here when I can,
stay in that old cottage down there.

Why don't you come down and visit for a while?

I'll get my horse.

- No luck?
- Not a sign of him, Major.

Covered every foot of ground
between here and the high range.

What do you mean? A man just doesn't disappear.

Have you tried? Have you really tried?

We really tried, Miss Terrill.

- We couldn't find him.
- Then start out again, all of you.

Maybe he was thrown. He may be hurt.

You don't just give up.

All right, we'll take every man we can spare.

I'll sweep through the canyon.

You change horses and head for the south boundary.

You don't think he'd be fool enough to go in there?

How do I know? If he's crazy enough
to ride out alone in a strange country.

I don't understand this man, Steve.

All right, let's go.

- That was fine.
- More?

No, thanks. Nope.

I didn't realize Buck Hannassey
was that rough on you.

In addition to Mr. Hannassey,
I had a little trouble with a horse.

- Don't tell me they put you on Old Thunder.
- That's the one.

That sounds like Steve Leech to me.

No, he's not to blame. It was my own idea.

He's a rough man, Steve.

The whole country's betting on what'll happen

when he and Buck Hannassey finally fight.

I suppose you think we're pretty uncivilized.


People laying bets as to which
of two men will kill the other?

On my last voyage, we had a man fall overboard

and while they were picking him up,

the crew was making bets
as to which would get to him first

the lifeboat or the sharks.

What happened?

- Do you really want to know?
- Sure.

It was hard to tell who won.

Both sides claimed the money. Shall I go on?

Go on.

The boat got the man, but the sharks got the legs.

They finally decided that more of him
was saved than was lost

and they settled the bets accordingly.

Now, let me tell you one.

There was a Comanche massacre
right on this ranch in the early clays.

They took the survivors
and buried them alive up to their necks.

Shall I go on?

- Go on.
- In ant hills.

Red ant hills.

What was the point of your story?


How'd you like to show me around?

Do we ride, or do we walk?

Mr. McKay, any ranch that you can see
on foot just isn't worth looking at.

Good pony you've got there.

He's a good old fella. Belongs to Ramon Gutierrez.

- Ramén?
- You know him?

Sure, he used to work for us.
Put me on my first pony.

Almost put me on my last.

Here it is.

This is what makes Maragon
the best land in the state.

It was a present from the King of Spain
to my great-grandfather.

I hope you're properly impressed.

Yes, ma'am.

I certainly am.

- Trout?
- No. Catfish.

Tell me about this man Hannassey.

Things he said at the party, are they true?

Some of them are.

During the dry season, the Hannasseys,

and sometimes even the Terrills
depend on Big Muddy for water.

Grandfather always gave them both
access to it whenever they needed it.

What would happen
if you sold the place to Major Terrill?

It would mean bloodshed.

Major Terrill would refuse to give water
to the Hannasseys.

I love this place,
but sometimes I wish I could get rid of it.

You see, old Rufus and the Major hate each other,

so that if either one of them
were to get control of Big Muddy,

I'm afraid to think of what would happen.

What does it take to become a rancher?

I mean, suppose a fella like myself
were to settle out here.

What would he need?

The land first, of course,

the beginning of a good cow herd
couple hundred to start with.

Good bulls, and about 100 miles of fence.

100 miles?

- Why, sure. This is a big country.
- A big country.

You're serious, Jim?

What else would I need?

Top hands.

A good foreman to run things for you
while you learn the ropes.

Jim, I can't sell Big Muddy to you.

- Why not?
- Why not?

It would be same as selling it to the Terrills.

The name is McKay, James McKay.

Will you sell Big Muddy to me, Miss Maragon?

I'll pay whatever it's worth.

As far as I'm concerned, the Hannasseys
can take water whenever they need it.

That goes for the Terrills, too.

Maybe I can keep the peace
if I'm living here and working the place.

How about it?

Pat always did love this place.


It would be a wonderful wedding present, Jim.

That's right.

And you wouldn't really be losing the place.

If it's ours, in a way, it's still yours.

All right. You bought yourself a ranch.

You're a very persuasive man, Mr. McKay.

Let's head back to the cottage

and draw up a paper before I change my mind.

I don't know where else to look.

We'll try it again at first light.

Don't shoot, boys. I'll come peaceable.

If that's coffee, I wouldn't mind having a little.

You fellas on a roundup?


We've been looking for you since yesterday.

Where you been anyway, McKay?

I reckon you're the last man can answer that.

Been out shopping for a wedding present.

Yeah, you can make jokes about it now,
but you get yourself lost

and I got a crew of men out
riding their backsides off all night.

- I wasn't lost.
- Yeah.

You know the Major was out himself
trying to trail you?


You and Waco go on back to Ladder.
Tell Miss Terrill we found him.

Tell her we'll bring him in easy
as soon as he's rested up.

Douse that fire.

Hello, Pat.

- We've been out of our minds with worry.
- I'm sorry. You shouldn't have been.

Thank heavens you're safe.

I was all right all the time. Didn't Ramén tell you?

Sure, but...

Jim McKay, do you mean to say that
they've been out on a wild-goose chase?

That we've been driving ourselves crazy for nothing?

I'm sorry, Pat.

Getting lost out here can be dangerous business, Jim.

It's happened to people
who've lived here all their lives.

But I wasn't lost, Major.

And I say you were lost.

What were you doing out there
for two clays and two nights?

Just riding around for pleasure?

Mr. Leech, I knew exactly where I was all the time.

You're a damn liar.

You were the lostest looking thing
I've seen in 10 years.

If it's a fight you want

you picked the right time for it.

Haven't you?

Yeah, I'm offering you a fight.

Or ain't that a nice word back East?

You're gambling, Leech.

You're gambling that if we fight, you can beat me.

And you're gambling that if you beat me,
Miss Terrill will admire you for it.

Out here, we leave a lady's name out of an argument.

But since you brought it up,
let me tell you something.

I think you took advantage of Miss Terrill
when she was away from home.

You look mighty big back there, but not out here.

You're just not good enough for her, McKay.

I aim to prove it right here.

You aren't going to prove anything with me, Leech.

Get this through your head.

I'm not playing this game on your terms
not with horses or guns or fists.

Don't you want to hear where I've been?

Why I went?

- Don't you want to hear from me...
- Who cares what you did?

You let him call you a liar.
I've never been so humiliated in my life.

- Calm down. There's no reason for you...
- Don't you care what people think?

No, I'm not responsible for what people think.

Only for what I am.

Don't you care what I think?

Do you like to have people think of you as a...

A coward. Why don't you say it?
Are you afraid of the word? I'm not.

And I'm not going to spend the rest
of my life demonstrating how brave I am.

You've already demonstrated that quite fully enough.


I'll move into town the first thing in the morning.

I think we both need a little time
to think this over.

I think that could be a very fine idea. Good night.

Who is it?

You lost again?

Just like before.

I'll be leaving here in the morning, Leech.

Yeah, that would figure, McKay.

I don't know why you thought
you had to come say goodbye.

Goodbye that I have in mind
will take a little more room

than we have in here.

We got maybe half a million acres
here on Ladder, Mr. McKay.

You just go pick out any little spot that suits you.

- I'll be right with you.
- I'd like this to be strictly between us.

Yeah, I can see how you'd feel that way.

All right.

McKay, you're a bigger fool than I thought you were.

And to tell you the truth,
that just didn't seem possible.

Come on.

All I can say, McKay,

is you take a helluva long time to say goodbye.

Just about finished.

If it's all right with you.

It's all right with me.

Now tell me, Leech, what did we prove?

They're getting near the river, Steve.

- All right, boys, let's go.
- Why are we doing this, Steve?


Major's orders, that's why.

I ain't siding with the Hannasseys,

but chasing thirsty cattle away
from water just don't seem right.

Look, cowboy,

you'd be better off if you just do what
you're told and don't ask any questions.

This your stinkin' idea, Leech?

They pay you double for this kind of dirty work?

You just run on back home

and tell your daddy he's watered
his last steer in the Big Muddy.

Yes, sir. I'll deliver that message,

and you run on back home
and shine up the Major's boots.

All right. Let's spread out along the river.
Let's go.

Why ain't you dead?

You let 'em run my cows off,
and you come back standing up.

What could we do, Pa?
There was 20 of them, just a few of us.

Them cows is worth more than the whole lot of you.

We gotta get them back to water. You hear?

We gotta get them back or they won't last
two clays in this dry spell.

- We'll get them back, Pa.
- How? When? Next year?

We got to figure a way

to get them Terrill men
away from the Big Muddy right now.

I ain't had any peace since Clem Maragon died.

Go get that girl.

- Bring her here.
- Who? Julie Maragon?

You just do as you're told.

If she's sweet on you like you claim, it'll be easy.

If she ain't, drag her here by the hair.


Senorita. Muy buenos dias.

How are you, Ramén?

Glad to see you again.

- Is Miss Patricia home?
- Miss Patricia?

I don't know. I didn't saw her today.

Something wrong, Ramén?

It is not a place to me to say it.

- Not even to such an old friend?
- An old friend, yes.

But you know,

last night was a big trouble here

and Mr. McKay go away to San Rafael or somewhere.

I don't know.


Throw something off a chair and sit down.

Would you like to try a cigarette?

- Where'd you get those?
- In the East.

Don't look so shocked. I saw a woman smoking one.

Very elegant.

I don't care about anything anyway.

All right, Patsy, what's wrong?

Nothing, and you know that I detest that nickname.

You have to know everything
that's going on, don't you?

Only when it happens to my friends.
I didn't mean to be inquisitive.

For heaven's sakes. Sit down.

I declare, some people you can't insult at all

and other people get in a huff
over the slightest thing.

I'm sorry.

I'm in such a state today,
I don't know what I'm saying.

Are you going to tell me or not?

Julie, he's not the man I remembered.

He couldn't very well bring his ship with him.

What's going on here, Pat?
What's happened between you and Jim?

Ramén said he went into town.

Yes. I sent him away.

For heaven's sakes, why, Pat?


He backed down from Steve in front of everybody.

Steve called him a liar right to his face,
and he just stood there and took it.

Why did he call him a liar?

Jim said...

What difference does it make?

The important thing is that Steve said it,
and Jim refused to fight.

It's just sort of the last straw.
It's been one thing right after another.

First, Buck Hannassey beats him up on the road

and he refuses to do anything about it
when he gets the chance.

But he wouldn't even get on Old Thunder
when the boys saddled him up for a lark.

Then just to stand there
when Steve called him a liar.

- And not do anything.
- You said Jim wouldn't ride Old Thunder?

That's funny.

He mentioned about having trouble with a horse.

Wait a minute. I'll be right back.

- Where are you going?
- I want to ask Ramén something.

I know that he didn't ride him.
Everybody here knows it.

The Major was standing right there.

You always think you know everything,
but this time you're wrong.

Come on. Let's go find Ramén.



Did Mr. McKay ride Old Thunder?

No. I don't think so.

Ramén, why did Mr. McKay ask you not to tell anybody?

I don't know. Maybe because he...

- That is no fair.
- I'm sorry, Ramén, but we had to know.

- So he did ride him.
- Yes.

He ride him himself.

Old Thunder threw him down five, ten times,

I don't know how many and he don't give up.

But Old Thunder give up

and then he was walking like this,
like a loco burro, you know.

A man like him is very rare.

Thank you, Ramén.

You welcome, Senorita.

If he was gonna ride the brute

why didn't he do it when it meant something?

He did ride it when it meant something to him.

Obviously, Mr. McKay is a man
who is afraid of only one thing

and that is that people
may suspect him of showing off.

But if he loved me,
why would he let me think he's a coward?

If you love him, why would you think it?

How many times does a man have to win you?

I think it's a downright deceitful way of acting.

I'm glad he's gone.

And you can go, too,
if all you can think to do is criticize me.

I declare, the way you're sticking up for him

person might think you were
in love with him yourself.

If you feel that way about him,
why don't you go after him?

I'm sure I don't care.

You fool.

The man loves you.

While you were blaming him for everything

do you know what he was doing?

Buying Big Muddy for you as a wedding present.

Hello, Jim.

I've been looking for you.

I wanted to talk to you about the Big Muddy.

I hoped I was free of that problem for good.

I bought with the understanding
that it would be a wedding present for Pat.

I don't want to keep it under false pretenses.

Jim, you're making a mistake you're going to regret.

I know Pat. She's generous, sensitive,

a little high-strung maybe and once you get her...

Get her away from her father's influence,

she's got the makings of a wonderful wife.

It seems to me that when a man uproots
his life and travels 2,000 miles,

he must be very much in love.

How can you change your mind
after one silly misunderstanding?

It goes much deeper than that.

It's finished.

I'm sorry.

I guess I've been conducting a class on
something I don't know very much about.

Pat's very lucky to have you for a friend.


what about the Big Muddy?

- Do you want me to take it back?
- No. I want to keep it.

Work it, build it up.

I'd like to go ahead and have the deed recorded.

All right.

Thanks, Julie.

Come in.


Come in.

Won't you sit down?

- I think this is the safest chair.
- Thanks, but I can't stay.

I just came to return these pistols.

The Major felt that under the
circumstances you should have them back.

They were a gift. I want him to have them.

Jim, I...

I can't pretend to be proud and polite any longer.

They're not why I came.

I didn't even think of them till I had my hat on.

You said that you wanted to think things over.

Have you?


I don't think it'll work out between us, Pat.

Jim, you can't mean that.

I know I've been wrong.

I've been silly and stupid and...

But can't you see?

Those two dreadful clays and nights
of worrying about you.

I couldn't think. I was out of my mind.

If only you'd remembered how much you mean to me.

If only you'd told me, explained to me.

You didn't give me much of a chance, Pat.

You were all so determined to see me fight.

But it would have meant so much if I'd only known.

I don't mean to reproach you.

That's the last thing I want to do, but...

Even when you rode Old Thunder, everybody knew it.

Ramén knew it. Julie knew it.

But me? Not a word. Why?

You knew how much it meant to me
with everybody laughing at me.

And don't tell me they weren't.

But you wouldn't do it for me.

Why not? Why not for me?

Pat, there are some things that a man
has to prove to himself alone,

not to anyone else.

Not even to the woman he loves?

Least of all to her, if she loves him.

- Do you understand that?
- No.

No, I'll never understand that,
so don't try to explain it to me.

Then you say it won't work. Just like that.

No, Pat.

Not just like that.

Jim, I love you. You know I love you.

It'll never happen again.

I promise.

I need you.

I need you so terribly.


I promise. I promise.


It's all been such a misunderstanding.
It'll never happen again.

I mustn't think mixed-up things anymore.

There's so much to do.

I haven't even told the Major the good news.

Wait till he hears about my wedding present.

He'll be so proud of you.

He has such plans for the Big Muddy.

The Major thinks on a grand scale.
I can promise you that.

He even wants to put in new corrals and...


I didn't buy the Big Muddy
to make the Major proud of me.

I had plans of my own.

Furthermore, I promised Julie

that the neighbors could have
all the water they need.

What do you mean by that?

I'm not going to go on
living in the middle of a civil war.

I understand you to mean all the neighbors?

That's right. That includes the Hannasseys.

The Hannasseys?

You can stand there and say that to me?

Why, you heard that filthy man
insult my father with his lies.

They were all lies. You know they were lies.

You're just like the rest of them.
You hate the Major.

I don't know why I came here!
I don't have to crawl to you or any man.

You'll never see the clay when you're
half the man that Henry Terrill is!


Let's go, teacher.

What do you want, Mr. Hannassey?

I wanted a lot of things in my life
most of which I never got.

Sit Clown.


- Bring the lady some supper.
- Me too, Pa.

You do your own yelling, boy.

People will be coming after me.
I hope they bring a rope.

They'll be coming after you, all right.
I've seen to that.

When Henry Terrill comes a bustin' in here this time

that's gonna be the prettiest sight
my aging eyeballs ever beheld.

He's gonna be the most surprised
dead man you ever saw.

So that's why you've clone this.

It's a sorry Sunday when the
granddaughter of Clem Maragon

forces me to go against the gentle
teachings that I was brung up with.

But you let Henry Terrill
run my cows off of the Big Muddy

and 24 of them died of thirst
before I could take a breath.

I let Henry Terrill?

I've stood by every promise my grandfather ever made.

She's pretty when she's like that, ain't she, Pa?

Now, listen, young lady.

I aim to get my cows back to water.

I'm a law abiding man.

That is, if there's any law to abide by.

Now, I aim to do this thing nice and legal.

Take off your hat.


How would you like to marry my boy Buck there?

He's a fine, upstanding young feller

and then we could have the Big Muddy
all in the family?

You must be out of your mind.

He's got some rough edges, I know,

but from what he tells me,

maybe you wouldn't mind
to smooth them off a little bit?

Don't act like you're doing me no favor.

Maybe I could learn you a little, teacher.

Sweet on you?

If you ain't the mother and father of all liars.

Miss Maragon,

if this son of mine is so offensive
to your delicate sensibilities,

there's more than one way to tree a coon.

If you want to get yourself out of here,
and if you want to stop the slaughter.

You can just sign this.

It's the bill of sale of the Big Muddy
at a fair price.

Now take me home.

What's going on here?

For 6 years I've been trying to get you to...

And now you just sign it like that.

Are you tying knots in my tail?

Speak up!

Big Muddy isn't mine to sell, Mr. Hannassey.

Now, girl, you're trying the edge of my patience.

I mean it! I don't own the Big Muddy!

That paper's worthless,
so you might as well take me home.

You gone and sold it to Terrill.

I wouldn't sell it to the Terrills
any more than I'd sell it to you.

I did the one thing I could to try
and bring peace and sanity here.

- I sold it to a man nobody...
- Well, who?

- I sold it to Jim McKay!
- The dude.

The Terrills' son-in-law, Pa. Same difference.

No wonder they had the guts to drive our cows off.

- I sold it to him with the promise that...
- Peace, you say!

- Tryin' to make a fool of me, girl?
- He's not marrying a Terrill.

- He's not marrying anybody.
- Now, there's your dinner if you want it.

If not, the bed is in there.

Let me take you to him.
Talk to him. He'll tell you himself.

You don't get out of here that easy.

I still don't know how much truth you just told me.

But don't ever look down your nose
at me or mine again.

If my conscience was botherin' me, it ain't no more.

What happens here tomorrow is on your head, not mine.

It's no use.

A coyote couldn't slip through that canyon.

There ain't no Hannasseys sleeping tonight.

I was saving this for Terrill's neck,

but in a manner of speaking,
it'll serve the same purpose.

Does everybody know the signals?

- Yeah.
- You bet.


Do I make you sick? Do I?

Get out!

Crawl! You act like a dog. Crawl like one!

Crawl, I said! Crawl!

You've pressed me for the last time, hear me?

For the last time! I mean it!
Don't you press me no more!

Someday... Someday I'll have to kill you.

Thanks very much. I'll be back in a clay or two.

Thank you. Now, don't get lost.

Mr. McKay!


- What brings you to town?
- It's a big trouble.

Very bad. The Major...


What took you so long, Steve? See anything?

Plenty. Major, they're ready and waiting for us.

There must be a rifle
behind every rock in that canyon.

We can handle anything they've got.

- We're going in.
- But, Major...

When I think of that poor, defenseless girl
in their filthy hands...

We'll earn the gratitude
of every decent person in this country.

We'll put an end to them once and for all.

Where are those other men you sent for?
Should have been here an hour ago.

We're gonna need every one of them.

I won't wait much longer.

Somebody comin', Major!

Look who we have here.

The new owner of the Big Muddy.

Certainly cover a lot of territory, McKay.

Where do you think you're going?

I'm going into Blanco Canyon.

That's a fine place for a man who avoids a fight.

What business do you have in Blanco Canyon?

Miss Maragon is being held in there.

I've reason to think I can bring her out
without any violence.

You're not going in there, McKay.

That's for me to decide.

I'm telling you for the last time.
You're staying here.

I'm going in.

If you want to stop me, you'll have to use that.

But if you shoot me down...

Let's have it clear in front of all these men,
you're not here to get Julie Maragon out!

You're just using this for an excuse
to start your own private war.


You can't do it.

Let him go.

He won't get in there far enough to open his mouth.

If he wants to get himself killed,
let the Hannasseys do it.

It's the dude.

- Stay here.
- Right.

How do you like Blanco Canyon?

Hell of a place for a sailor.

You wanna see him dead right in front of your eyes?

You tell him you come here because you wanted to

and you ain't leaving, see?

You let on anything else, I'll kill him.

Hello, Mr. Hannassey. I'm Jim McKay.

I know who you are.

This is a different kind of party
we're having here today.

Not as elegant as the Major's shindig,
but it's gonna be a lot more lively.

Now, may I ask what brings you here uninvited?

I've come to take Miss Maragon home.

Mister, you got more gall than brains.
You just rode by a passel of guns

and you got a couple on you right now.

Just what is your notion of why Miss Maragon is here?

We both know why Miss Maragon is here, Mr. Hannassey.

My cows are watering on the Big Muddy again.

Pretty soon, I'm gonna have
Henry Terrill where I want him

if that's what you mean.

Then you've got no more reason to hold her here.

I own the Big Muddy now

and I give you my word you'll
have all the water you want.

You got any proof of that, boy?

- Right here.
- Just hold your seat.


Buck will do the lookin'.

What have we got here?

Deed's in my coat.

Ain't them real pretty? Look, Pa, toy pistols.

Gentleman's weapons.

You come loaded for bear, didn't you, boy?
What did you expect to do with these?

Buck, look in his coat.

It's been recorded.

If this ain't a frosty Friday.

I've been trying to get my hands on this deed

since Clem Maragon died.

Now, what about my promise? All the water you want.

Just as long as you want.

You've got the looks of a man
that means what he says,

but this ain't just a matter of water.

The Hannasseys will have no peace

till the bones of Henry Terrill
is bleaching in Blanco Canyon.

Now, he started this blood spillin',

and I aim to finish it his way.

You had me fooled for quite a while, Mr. Hannassey

with your self-righteous talk.

What's the difference between his way and your way?

How many of those men out there
know what this fight is all about?

This isn't their war,
this is nothing but a personal feud

between two selfish, ruthless, vicious old men.

Henry Terrill and you.

You gonna stand there and take that?
I've had enough...

You're mistaken, Mr. McKay.
I came to visit for a few clays.

There's no need for anyone to worry.

I suppose I should have left word with somebody.

I don't care what you think.

I didn't ask you to bother about me!

Julie, you've got to come with me.

If you don't show yourself
at the entrance to the canyon,

a lot of men are going to be killed.

I can't help that.

There's nothing I can do about it.

This trouble's not about me
so why don't you just go away?

What is it that you're afraid of?


I'm not afraid.

I come here all the time! Everybody knows that.

Don't you know? Me and Julie is old friends.

Now, why don't you just get goin'
while you still can?

Now, wait a minute.

I'm not leaving here without her.

You're tryin' to protect him. Why?

Guess there's no need to answer that.

And, you.

You come a blazin' in here unarmed

takin' a mighty tall chance
tryin' to stop a fight that ain't your fight.

Now, why?

Buck, are you blind?

You should never have come here.

Please go and leave me alone.

Don't just stand there! Go!

- Please go, Jim! Please!
- Buck!

Look out, Jim!

You don't shoot an unarmed man, not while I'm around.

Give him a gun, Pa!

Give the dude a gun and let him stand up
and draw like a man.

- I'll fight him anyway he likes.
- You heard him, Pa. Give him a gun!

Come on up here, both of you.

Why do you carry these along with you?
Are you a dead shot with 'em?

I haven't fired those
or any other pistols for 10 years.

All right, give him one of his own.
Quit this talkin'!

Shut up! I'll handle this.

You're a great one for hittin' women,
and beatin' slower men to the draw.

- Mr. Hannassey...
- Now, you stay out of this.

Yeah, you love a fight your style!

I wonder if you've got the stomach
for it gentleman style.

What about you? Talk's cheap.

You crazy, pa? Me use one of them single-shot toys?

I've stood up with nothing but one shot
between me and damnation.

Now how would you like to start
fightin' fair and square

looking down the barrel of a gun,

where your fast draw won't do you any good?

- Why should I?
- Because I say so!

Now gimme that gun belt!

And for the first time in your life
try to be the man that I'd like you to be.

Give it to me.

Take care of that.

You up there!
Let me know if there's anything stirrin'!

- These guns loaded?
- All but the caps.

They haven't been fired for a long time.
The vents will have to be cleared out.

- I'll do it for you if you like.
- Teach your grandmother to suck eggs.

I've been handling guns like this,

flintlock and cap lock since before you were born.

Follow me.


Come on, Steve.

Major, we haven't heard a single shot out of there.

Do you suppose McKay could've gotten through?

That's no concern of ours.

What's the matter with you? Come on.

This is bound to cost us half our men anyway.

- What if it's not necessary?
- What did you expect, a taffy pull?

If it was anybody but you, I'd think you were scared.

Suppose he's riding out of there with her right now

and we start a lot of shootin'?

I'd walk into hell after you, Major, you know that.

Not much you could ask I wouldn't try to do.

I just don't hold with you on this.
I just can't do it, Major. I can't.

By damn, you are yellow!

You can call me whatever you want,

but I'm not beating up any more men for you.

I'm not running off any more cattle
or shooting any more Hannasseys for you.

You ride on in there if you want to. I'm finished.

You're finished, all right.

I don't need you on this trip.

All right, men, mount up!

I said, "Mount up"!

I see.

I'm all alone in this.

All right.

I've been alone before.

Clear the line of fire.

I forgot all the fancy rigmarole that goes with this,

so I'll just say, "Ready, aim, fire!"

Cock your hammers on "Ready."

There's one thing I do remember,

if either man tries to beat the signal,

it's my duty to shoot him down
like a dog, and I'll do it.

So help me.

This thing's gonna be clone
right and proper. Understand?


Your choice.

Now, back to back.

And keep your fingers off of the trigger.

Clear the way there!

I can feel you sweatin' right through my shirt.

Now, I'll count to 10.

Now, you turn on "ready."

Fire when I tell you.


One, two, three, four, five,

six, seven, eight, nine, ten.




- I warned you, you dirty little...
- All right!

Now it's my shot.

Go ahead!


Go on! Shoot!


I told you.

I told you I'd do it.

I told you, but you wouldn't believe me.

Damn your soul! I told you!

Let them pass.

Get my horse.

Take cover!

Get back there! Get off those horses!


You said Henry Terrill and me.

You were right.

Come on! Keep movin'!

Hold your fire!

Hold your fire!

Hold your fire!

Keep 'em covered! But hold your fire!

Henry Terrill!

Come on out!

Henry Terrill! Do you hear me?

I hear you!

This is you and me!

I'm a comin' down!

Here I come, Hannassey!