Duel In The Sun (1946)
Directed By: King Vidor
Starring: Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten, Gregory Peck, Lionel Barrymore, Herbert Marshall, Lillian Gish, Walter Huston, Charles Bickford, Harry Carey, Butterfly McQueen
Producer: David O. Selznick
This movie takes place in Texas in the 1880's. Pearl Chavez (Jones) is a half breed girl who is a true beauty who enjoys life and dances. Her mother dances in a saloon who is Indian and her father is a Creole man Scott Chavez (Marshall). It is a very interesting dynamic where the mother dances for all the men's delight while the father sits and gambles watching his wife flirt with many of the men.
Pearl watches her mother leave quickly with another man while her father gambles and has no money left.
Pearl is told to go home and she watches only as her father shoots and kills his wife and her lover. Scott states to the authorities he committed the crime and what is fitting is to hang him. Now what is going to happen to Pearl? Scott tells Pearl of his past and how he was in love in the past with a lady named Laura Belle (Gish) and now she is to move and live with her. Her father is to be hung and has come to grips with it and wants only the best for his daughter which is to live with a good person being Laura Belle. Pearl gets a red scarf from her father prior to leaving as a token of his love to his daughter.
Pearl by stage coach arrives to Paradise Flats a small Texas town where she is greeted by Jesse McCanles (Cotten) who is a lawyer. Jesse is awaiting for Pearl since he is one of Laura Belle's son's. The McCanles family is headed by Sen. Jackson (Barrymore) who married Laura Belle. Jesse brings Pearl in his wagon to the ranch. A marker shows where the McCanles ranch begins and Jesse states it
Vashti (McQueen) is the faithful servant of the McCanles and is in search of the perfect man to marry. Vashti and Laura Belle are very close. Laura Belle states that her eldest Jesse is such a giving man that she adores and admires him staying longer to be on the ranch. While Laura Belle and Pearl are enjoying a conversation below in his own corridors; the Senator speaks to his younger son (his favorite) "Lewt" whose traits are very similar to each others. Gambling and women seem to be on their mind.
Both Jesse and Lewt could not be any different. Pearl wants to prove herself that she too can ride horses so shows Lewt however things don't go as well as planned. The horse leaps and runs off where she is out of control and Lewt races on horseback to rescue her. Pearl is clearly as time goes on attracted to both Jesse and Lewt who also share these emotions.
The Senator and other officials are add odds that the railroad company that is looking to expand. Jesse does not agree that his father is going to simply shoot defenseless people and takes the side opposing his father's view. In comes the militia to assist the town and the national expansion of the railroad. Now the fight looks like it will be more fair. With his father, the Senator states to never return to the ranch and leaves. Jesse stays with the men who are expanding the train rails which will bridge the gap from the east to west coast.
A storm sets in and Jesse rides onto the ranch to see that no one is around except Vashti. According to Vashti his father with a lot of other men went to meet together (most likely on the topic of the train expansion). Now we see that Pearl is still at home cleaning her bedroom when in walks in Lewt who closes the door and grabs her in his arms and starts to kiss her passionately.
Jesse consoles his mother Laura Belle about having to leave the land. Laura Belle is sad stricken that she may never see her son again. Jesse decides to pack his things and say goodbye to Pearl and onwards he goes to her room. Knocks on the door and only to find that the both of them are getting
Now Jesse has left and Pearl is very emotional and decides that being the temptress with Lewt and fall to her bad ways is the path forward.
Sam Pierce (Charles Bickford) enters into the scene where he is going to be the grounds keeper and has affection for Pearl. At the big dance on the ranch Pearl tells Lewt to tell everyone that they will be engaged to be married but sees that he finds it a complete joke. Pearl meets after being mad Sam Pierce and they dance and connect. Sam is older than Pearl but has accepted marriage. While this is all unfolding Jesse brings back on the train Helen Langford (Joan Tetzel) a refined lady he cares for along with her father. Jesse finds out about the possible marriage and tells Helen that yes he wants to the best for Pearl but no longer loves her but has eyes for Helen.
At a quiet saloon Lewt exchanges words with Sam about the potential marriage that is not going to happen. Sam defends Pearl's name and then Lewt shoots him dead. Lewt is now a wanted man from
Lewt finds the perfect opportunity to make his father proud by detaching a part of the train rail which causes the entire on coming train to fall off the tracks to a disastrous end. Lewt is very happy of the end and he then goes to see Pearl who brings a gun out and wants nothing to do with him. Lewt gets angry at Pearl and leaves her. Laura Belle and the Senator have a lot of unresolved issues from the past and what will come of Pearl, Lewt, and Jesse....watch the movie to find out!