The Big Country (1958) Script

For those that are gonna go on, one hour to eat, folks, while we change the horses.

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

Goodbye. Goodbye, Mr. McKay.

Hey, look at that!

All right, Clint. Turn 'em around.

Mr. McKay?


I'm Steve Leech, foreman at Ladder Ranch.

I brought Pat's buckboard and team for you.

She's waiting at a friend's house.

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.

Oh? Why not?

One of these wild cowboys might take it into his head to shoot it off ya.

Thank you, Mr. Leech.

How do you do, Mr. Leech?

Boys, don't you know to tip your hats when the foreman of Ladder goes by?

Come on, let's get outta here.

Pat! Hello, 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 as if I had?

You must've 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 that 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 for you?

No. If you're through in town, go on back to Ladder.

Not ride back with you? Oh, heavens, no!

We'll take our time. We'd only hold you up.

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

They've been drinkin'.

We'll be all right, Steve.

Just as you say, Miss Terrill.

Thank you, Mr. Leech.

Well, who lives here? Shh!

My friend Julie Maragon. She's the local schoolteacher.

Am I still your girl? You'd 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.

Oh, Julie, you idiot! Come on back here.

This is Jim.

Well, I certainly hope so.

Hello, Jim. Hello, Julie.

Well, what do you think of him?

You don't look like a sailor.

You don't look like a schoolmarm. 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, darling, you do look funny out here in those clothes.

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


We shoulda stayed in town.

Got some girls and more liquor.

Maybe we got us somethin' better.

There's Pat Terrill and her eastern dude.

Let's give him a welcome.

Cracker! Get up outta there.


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

Looks like they want to talk.

Well, don't stop. Go right on through 'em.

Yah! Yah!

Let's go after them.

Whoa, boy!

Whoa! Whoa!

Whoa, boy!

Whoa, boy! Whoa!



Whoa! Whoa!

Howdy, Miss Terrill.

That wasn't very social back there.

Well! Whaddaya know?

We got a gentleman with us.

Don't it make you boys feel kinda dirty... 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.

I sure do like your hat.

All right, that's enough! Pat!

Oh! Jim!

Cut her off there, Rafe.

Look what I got!

Let me try that!


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


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

Give me that hat!

Ooh, 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.

Better send him back where he come from.

Jim, are you hurt, darling?

Oh, 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 day here.

Don't worry about it. Greenhorns always have to get knocked around a little.

Why did you take the rifle from me?

I didn't even know that you had a rifle.

Why did you take it?

Why? Well, I didn't think that you really 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.

Well, it's 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. Oh, yeah. We'll be there before dark.

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

The schoolmarm?

How are your lessons comin'? You gonna get promoted?


Surprised you, didn't I?

You shoulda seen yourself! You jumped like a shot deer!

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

Well, don't come in until I hear you.

What do you want? I just dropped by to see how you was.

You oughta keep your door locked.


Why, ma'am, a pretty woman livin' alone?

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

That's soup, ain't it?

It's kind of thin. Don't stick to your ribs like beef and beans.

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

Thank you.

You know, Julie, I can just picture us together out in the Big Muddy.

The lamp lit. You cooking, me eating.

Happy as two little dogies at a waterhole.

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.

Passin' a word or two.

You been leadin' me on, teacher!

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

You ain't foolin' old Buck.

By the way, I just stopped to pass the time of day...

...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, a fancy hat and no nerve to hold a gun?

That's enough, Buck Hannassey. I think you'd better leave.

You know something, Julie?

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

...the Terrills'd dry up like jimson weed.

Will you get out of here?

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.

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

You must be drunk!

All right, teacher.

But, remember, the Terrills ain't no friends of ours.

I'll choose my own friends.

No, 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.

Howdy. Good morning.


Buenos días, señor.

Buenos días.

My name is Ramón Gutiérrez.

How do you do? My name is McKay.

Pleased to meet you. But I knew that.

Girls, this is Mr. McKay, who is going to marry Miss Patricia.

Buenos días.

Tell me, how many head of cattle do you have here?

Oh, ten thousand... twenty thousand, forty thousand, fifty thousand...

Cattle are not important to me. You speak Spanish?

No. I understand you, though. Perfectly.

Oh, very good!

Mornin'. Morning, Mr. Leech.

You care to go ridin' this mornin'? Yes, I'd like to very much.

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

Yes, sir.

How well do you ride?

Oh, I've ridden some in the East. Different saddle, though.

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

Ramón, put him up on Old Thunder.

Right over here.

Any time you're ready.

Nice day, isn't it?


Some other time, Leech.

Whoa! Whoa!

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

Morning, Jim. Morning, Major.

Mornin', Major.

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

Sort of a standing joke. I see.

What time do you want to start, Major?

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

Have some breakfast with me, Jim.

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.

Turned up as a tow-headed youngster...

...with just the clothes he stood in and the horse he rode. A saddle tramp at 14.

Now I doubt if 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'm to have the pleasure of seeing her married here.

I owe it to you that I'll have the privilege of marrying a very exceptional girl.

I thought 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 certainly can 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.

Oh, Major...

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

I thought you might like to have these.

Duelling pistols.

Now this is mighty kind of you, Jim.

They're 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 honour and his good name are his finest possessions.

I agree, but his good name needed no defence...

...and his honour was beyond question.

You know, 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, Jim...

...but your gentlemanly forbearance is misplaced...

...when you're dealing with the Hannasseys.

Well, 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.

Well, 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 dogs up in Blanco Canyon.

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

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

It'd be a blessing for this country...

...if a flood would wipe them off the face of the earth.

Good morning!

Oh, I overslept, and on your first morning, too!

You look...

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

Oh, no, on Ladder the people wake up the roosters.

Morning, darling. Pat, darling.

Oh, what's this?

Ugh! Pistols and coffee.

I'll have coffee, Pedro.

What have you two been up to?

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

A gift from Jim.

We're about ready for you, Major.

Mornin', Pat.

Morning, Steve.

Where are 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. Oh. Of course.

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

Yes, sir.

Well, you and I'll ride out and survey the family acres, darling.

All right.

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

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

Well, they tried.

Mr. McKay said "Some other time", whatever that means.

It means some other time.

Oh, 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?


Pat... 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 have made any difference.

You can tell him if you want to.

You're actually gonna 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 favour if you forget the whole thing.

Forget it?

When a guest can't come to my house without being attacked by rowdies...'s time something was done about it.

Jim, the major is doing what he thinks is right.

He knows how to handle these people.

I was the one who was knocked around. Come with us, then.

We'll cut Buck Hannassey out for you and you can settle with him yourself.

There's nothing to settle. Not this way, anyway.

Now look, Jim...

...what you don't realise is that the nearest law is at the county seat, 200 miles away.

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

That may be so, but nothing happened 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.

Major, 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 doin' here?

Where is he?

Three Wells, and he ain't gonna take it good, you ridin' in here.

Where's Buck?

I don't know. In Rafael, maybe. Anyway, he ain't here.

See if she's lying, Steve. Jessy! 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 'em have their fun.

You look 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, Major. We looked all over. Cain't find him.


Yes, Mr. McKay?




Come on. No...

Come on! No!


I'll give you some help, Ramón.

¡Te voy a pegar!




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


Don't ask me why, Ramón.

But, Ramón, whatever happens...

...this is strictly between you and me, and the horse. Right?

But... maybe if the señorita...

Even the señorita. 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 'em. They've been braggin' about it all over town.

Where are the others?

Well, there's Rafe.

That's two of 'em. Now there's Blackie...

Don't forget Buck. I'm not forgettin' Buck.

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

We were just havin' a little fun.

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

Pick him up.

Where's Buck?

Where's Buck?! He lit out early this mornin'!

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 the dude none.

Let us go!

You gonna let 'em get away with this?!

You gonna let 'em ride into town and take it over like they owned it?!

Whoa, boy.

¡Mucho! ¡Bravo!

¡Arriba los buenos jinetes!

That's enough, Steve.

Let's go. All right, Major.

Good day, Mr. Griggs.

We're civilised now, Mr. McKay. I hope you'll stay around.

I'm thinking about it.

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

Rope him and hogtie 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 done.

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

Jim, just stand on what I tell you. Let's close the book on it.

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

Julie, my dear. Now the evening can begin.

Jim, if I were 20 years younger, this would be the girl for me.

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

Julie was my welcoming committee. The best horse trader in this country.

Major, I just walked in! You can't be starting on Big Muddy so soon!

Listen to that girl! I've offered her a bale of money every year for that ranch.

She considers money a corrupting influence.

Where's Pat? Oh, don't tell me. I know.

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

Well, 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.

Gracias, Esperanza. Por nada, señorita.

Oh, Jim, I love you.

I've been so miserable every minute without you.

What have you been doing all day?

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

Then I...

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 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?


You're hurting my hand, Steve.

Well, Mr. McKay, how do you like this country?

I like it very much.

Did you ever see anything so big?

Well, yes.

You have? What? A couple of oceans.

Well, I declare!

Excuse me.

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

Thank you, Julie.

Well? How do you like the major?

I'm not marrying the major.

Oceans... huh!

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.

You 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 payin' back the call you and your men made on my home this mornin'.

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

Let him speak his piece.

Take it easy, boy.

I've got me somethin' 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 wearin'.

Maybe you got some of these folks fooled, but you ain't got me fooled.

The Hannasseys know and admire a real gentleman when they see one.

And they recognise a high-toned skunk when they smell one.

Now I'm not here complainin' about 20 of your brave men...

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

Maybe they had it comin'.

Anyways, they're full growed and can take their lickin's.

And I'm not here complainin' because I know you're tryin' to buy the Big Muddy... keep my cows from water.

It galls me sore to see the granddaughter of a gentleman like Clem Maragon...

...under this roof.

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

When you come a-ridin' roughshod over my land...

...scarin' the kids and the womenfolks...

...when you invade my home... you was the law or God Almighty...

...then I say to you...

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

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

You can swallow up a lot of folks and make 'em like it...

...but you ain't swallowin' me!

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

Ya hear me now?

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

And I give you warnin'. 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.

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

Start now.

What's the matter?

Can't ya shoot a man a-facin' ya?

I'll make it easy for ya.

Here's my back!

Well! He certainly said a beardful.

If there's anything I admire more than a devoted friend, it's a dedicated enemy.

But I must apologise 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.


Well, 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 lookin' for ya.

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 roughin' up old Terrill's son-in-law?

You said to keep pushin' the Terrills...

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

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

I never knowed nothin' like that... You never knowed nothin' 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 sparkin' and kissin'!

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 lyin' to me again, are you, boy?

Ain't no cause to lie.

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

I ain't forgettin' that.

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

That'd be a miracle sure enough.

Keep after her. Be nice.

Stop womenin' around in Rafael.

Treat her right.

Take a bath sometime.

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

Treat her right, ya hear me?

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

Look, there's the mountain behind here.

But it's too dangerous to ride alone. You get lost.

You ever seen a compass? Yeah, sure!

Oh, 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, Ramón.

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 possibly let him go?

He's pretty smart man. But he's a stranger here.

I don't think he get lost. And what makes you think he won't?

Well, 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.

Ramón, 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?

If you ever touch me again!

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

You get out of here!

Don't worry, I'm goin'.

I'll even get up a search party and go find your wanderin' boy for ya.

He can have ya!

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 tell me this is a big country, I'll be disappointed in you.

But it is a big country. And you shouldn't be wandering by yourself.

People have gotten lost out here, you know.

I had a map.

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

...and I had a compass.

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

Well, welcome aboard, skipper.

This must've been a fine old house in its day.

People used to come from a hundred 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, huh? Not a sign of him, Major.

We 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.

Well, you don't just give up!

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

I'll take a sweep out toward the canyon. You head for the south boundary.

You figure he'd be fool enough to go 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 realise Buck Hannassey was that rough on you.

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

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 will happen...

...when he and Buck Hannassey finally fight.

I suppose you think we're pretty uncivilised?


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

On my last voyage a man fell 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 wanna 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 days.

They took the survivors and buried them alive up to their necks. Shall I go on?

Go on.

In ant hills.

Red-ant hills.

Now what was the point of your story?

Oh, you...

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 Ramón Gutiérrez. Oh, Ramón!

You know him? Sure, he used to work for us.

Put me on my first pony.

Almost put me on my last!

Well, here it is.

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

A present from the king of Spain to my great-grandfather.

I hope you're properly impressed. Yes, ma'am. I certainly am.

Hey... Trout?

No. Catfish.

Tell me about this man Hannassey.

The 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.

Old Rufus and the major hate each other.

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?

Suppose a fellow like myself were to settle out here... what would he need?

Well, the land first, of course.

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

Good bulls, and about a hundred miles of fence.

Hundred miles? Well, this is a...

Big country. 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? Well, 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 you 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.

Well then?

And 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've bought yourself a ranch.

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

Let's head back 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 fellows 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.

You can joke about it now, but you get yourself lost out here...

...and I gotta keep men out ridin' their backsides off all night.

I wasn't lost.

You know the major was out himself tryin' to trail you?

Hey, Shorty, you and Waco go on back to Ladder.

Tell Miss Terrill we've found him.

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

Douse that fire.

Hello, Pat.


Oh, Jim, 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 Ramón tell you?

Well, sure, but...

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

We've been driving ourselves crazy for nothing?

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 doin' for two days and two nights?

Just ridin' around for pleasure?

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

You're a damn liar.

You were the lostest-lookin' thing I've seen in ten years.

If it's a fight you want...'ve picked the right time for it.

Haven't you?

Yeah, I'm offerin' 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 somethin'.

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

You looked 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.

Calm down, Pat. There's no reason... 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 gonna spend the rest of my life demonstrating how brave I am.

You've already demonstrated that quite fully enough.


I'll move into town 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.

Yeah? 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.

The 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 ya.

I'll be right with ya.

I'd like this to be strictly between us.

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... you take a hell of a long time to say goodbye.

I'm... 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 gettin' near the river, Steve.

All right, boys. Let's go.

Why are we doin' this, Steve?

Why? Major's orders, that's why. I ain't sidin' with the Hannasseys...

...but... chasin' 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 kinda 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 standin' up!

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

Them cows is worth more than the whole lotta ya.

We gotta get 'em back to water, ya hear?

We gotta get 'em back, or they won't last two days in this dry spell.

We'll get 'em 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.


¡Señorita! Muy buenos días.

How are you?

¡Qué linda! Glad to see you again!

Is Miss Patricia home?

Miss Patricia...

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

Something wrong, Ramón?

It's not a place to me to say it.

Not even to such an old friend? Oh, 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.

It's very elegant.

Oh, well. I don't care about anything, anyway.

All right, Patsy, what's wrong?

Nothing. And you know I detest that nickname.

You have to know everything, don't you?

I didn't mean to be inquisitive.

Oh, for heaven's sake, sit down.

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

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

Oh, I'm sorry.

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

Well, are you going to tell me or not?

Oh, Julie, he's not the man I remembered.

Well, he couldn't very well bring his ship with him.

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

Ramón said he went into town.

Yes. I sent him away.

For heaven's sakes, why, Pat?

Well, because. 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.

Buck Hannassey beats him up on the road and he refuses to do anything about it.

Oh, well!

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 say Jim wouldn't ride Old Thunder?

That's funny. He mentioned about having trouble with a horse...

I'll be right back.

Where are you going? To ask Ramón 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, Julie, but this time you're wrong.

Come on. Let's go find Ramón.



Did Mr. McKay ride Old Thunder?

No. I don't think so.

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

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

That is no fair.

I'm sorry, Ramón, but we had to know.

So he did ride him?

Oh, 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 an old burro, you know.

A man like him is very rare.

Thank you, Ramón.

You're welcome, señorita.

If he was gonna ride the brute, why didn't he do it when it meant something?

Well, he did ride it when it meant something to him.

Obviously Mr. McKay is afraid of only one thing:

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?

Well, 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 criticise me.

The way you're sticking up for him...

...a 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, 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 it on the understanding that it would be a wedding present for Pat.

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

Jim, you're making a mistake you're gonna regret.

I know Pat. She's generous, sensitive... a little high-strung, maybe.

Once you get her... get her away from her father's influence...

...she's got the makings of a wonderful wife.

Well, 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 you should have 'em 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 'em 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.

Oh, 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 days 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 wanna do. But...

Even when you rode Old Thunder, everybody knew it.

Ramón 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?

There are some things 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, Pat? No.

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

And 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.

Oh, I need you!

I need you so terribly!

Oh, darling...

Oh, I promise... I promise.

Oh, darling.

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

I mustn't think mixed-up things any more.

Oh, 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...


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

I had plans of my own.

And I promised Julie that the neighbours 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.

Do I understand you to mean all the neighbours?

That's right. That includes the Hannasseys.

The Hannasseys?

You can stand there and say that to me?

You heard that filthy man insult my father with his lies.

They were all lies! You know they were lies!

Oh, you're just like all 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 day when you're half the man that Henry Terrill is! Never!

Let's go, teacher.

What do you want, Mr. Hannassey?

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

Sit down.

Mandy! Bring the lady some supper.

Me too, Pa. You do your own yellin', boy.

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

They'll be comin' 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 ageing eyeballs ever beheld.

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

So that's why you've done this.

Well, it's a sorry Sunday when the granddaughter of Clem Maragon...

...forces me to go agin 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 'em 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-abidin' 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, upstandin' young fella.

And then we could have the Big Muddy all in the family, huh?

You must be out of your mind!

Well, he's got some rough edges, I know, but...

...from what he tells me...

...maybe you wouldn't mind to smooth 'em off a little bit, huh?

Don't act like you're doin' me no favour.

Maybe I could learn you a little, teacher.

Sweet on you, huh?!

Well, if you ain't the mother and father of all liars!

Well now, Miss Maragon...

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

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

Now, uh...

...if you want to get yourself outta here, and if you want to stop a slaughter... you just, uh, just sign this.

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

Now take me home.

What's goin' on here?

For six years I've been tryin' to get you to...

And now you just sign it like that.

Are you tyin' knots in my tail?

Speak up!

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

Girl, you're tryin' the edge of my patience.

I mean it. I don't own the Big Muddy. That paper's worthless... 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 can ride roughshod over.

To who? I sold it to Jim McKay.

The dude! Terrill's son-in-law, Pa. Same difference.

No wonder they drove our cows off.

I sold it to him with the promise... 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 outta here that easy.

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

...but don't you never look down your nose at me or mine again!

If my conscience was bothering 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 sleepin' 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? You bet.


No! Don't!

Do I make you sick? Hm? 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!

Pa, I mean it! Don't you press me no more!

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

Thanks. I'll be back in a day 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 waitin' for us.

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

We can handle anything they've got.

We're going in. Major...

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

Steve, we'll earn the gratitude of every decent person in this country...

...if we put an end to them, once and for all.

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

We're gonna need every one of 'em.

Well, I won't wait much longer.

Somebody comin', Major!

Well, look who we have here. The new owner of the Big Muddy.

You 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 goes out of his way to avoid a fight.

What business do you have in Blanco Canyon?

Miss Maragon is being held there.

I 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? Huh?

Hell of a place for a sailor!

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

Then you tell him you come here cos you wanted to and you ain't leavin', 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 havin' 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've 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 waterin' 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.

I give you my word you can have all the water you want.

Have you got any proof of that, boy? Right here.

Just hold your seat. Buck?

Buck'll do the lookin'.

Well, whatta we got here?

The deed's in my coat.

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

Gentlemen's weapons.

You come loaded for bear, didn't you, boy?

Just 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 tryin' to get my hands on this deed since Clem Maragon died.

What about my promise? All the water you want, just as long as you want it.

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 bleachin' 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 really 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 of...

You're mistaken, Mr. McKay.

I came to visit for a few days. There's no need for anyone to worry.

I suppose I... I should've 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, 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... so why don't you just go away?

What is it that you're afraid of?


Nothing. I'm... I'm not afraid.

I come here all the time. Everybody knows that.

Don't you know? Me and Julie's 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-brazin' in here, unarmed, takin' a mighty tall chance...

...tryin' to stop a fight that ain't your fight.

Now why?

Well, Buck, are you blind?

Jim, you should never have come here.

Please go and leave me alone.

Well, don't just stand there! Go!

Oh, please go, Jim! Please!


Look out, Jim!

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

Then give him a gun, Pa!

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

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

Come on up here, both of ya.

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

I haven't fired any pistols for ten years.

Give him one of his own, Pa. 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... You stay out of this!

Yeah, you love a fight your style.

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

What about you? Talk's cheap.

You're crazy, Pa. Me use one of them single-shot toys?

I've stood up with nothin' but one shot between me and damnation.

How would you like to start fightin' fair and square for a change?

Lookin' down the barrel of a gun...

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

Why should I?

Because I say so! Now give me 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.

Hey, you up there! Let me know if there's anything stirrin'!

Are 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 handlin' guns like this, flintlock and caplock, since before you were born.

Follow me...



Come on, Steve.

Major, we haven't heard a single shot. Do you suppose McKay got through?

That's no concern of ours.

What's the matter with you? Come on.

This is bound to cost us half our men. What if it's not necessary?

What did you expect? A taffey pull? Anybody'd think you were scared.

Suppose he's ridin' out of there with her right now and we start a lot of shootin'?

I'd walk into hell after you, Major. 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 call me whatever you want, but I'm not beatin' up any more men for you...

...I'm not running off any more cattle or shootin' 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 rigamarole that goes with this... 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...'s my duty to shoot him down like a dog, and I'll do it, so help me!

This thing's gonna be done 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 ten.

Now, you turn on "ready".

Fire when I tell ya.


One, two, three...

...four, five, six..., eight, nine...





I warned you, you dirty low... 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! Take cover!

Get back here! Get off those horses!


You said Henry Terrill and me. You were right.

Come on! Keep movin'!

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!