Duel In The Sun is a western and it is a melodrama, but it is a weird one. First off, Gregory Peck of Atticus Finch fame plays a scumbag who spends the entire film raping the female lead mentally. The visuals create a west reminiscent of John Ford’s She Wore A Yellow Ribbon or a water color painting. The female lead played by Jennifer Jones is part Indian and is reminded of it by everyone except Joseph Cotton who is exiled early in the film.
The plot basically is about Jennifer Jones’ character whose father murders somebody and goes to jail. She is sent to live with family who own a massive estate in Southern Texas. When she gets there she finds two brothers played by Peck and Cotton. Cotton is good and Peck is bad. Jennifer warms up to Cotton, but he pisses off the family and is forced to leave so she ends up succumbing to Peck. Jennifer decides to break away from Peck by romancing the straw boss, but Peck kills him. So ultimately she kills Peck while getting killed herself. There is a bit of a subplot involving the owners of the estate and railroad trying to come through their property, but it isn’t important.
It’s the final gunfight that is interesting. First, the gunfight is surprisingly bloody. Second, people don’t just get shot and go down. They moan and groan, keep firing, and drag themselves across the ground to move toward their target like they were in a Peckinpah or Tarantino film.
Worth a look, but there are better films to spend your time watching. Even in theaters, see The Wrestler (2008). It’s much better than Slumdog Millionaire (2008) (damn Academy Awards, but what would you expect from the people who gave best picture to Titanic (1997) over L.A. Confidential (1997)).