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Trivia / The Big Country

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  • Awesome, Dear Boy: Charlton Heston initially turned down the role of ranch foreman Steve Leech because he didn't think the part was big enough. His agent convinced him that it would be worth it just for the opportunity to work with Gregory Peck and William Wyler.
  • California Doubling: Averted; this is a William Wyler film we're talking about.
  • Enforced Method Acting: According to Heston, in the scene where he forces a kiss on Carroll Baker (Patricia), he was instructed not to let her go, while she was told she had to break free herself and slap him. She was able to do neither, and after multiple takes apparently ended up in tears with a set of nasty bruises on her wrists.
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  • Hostility on the Set: Tempers flared on the set between numerous individuals, particularly William Wyler and Charles Bickford, who had fought on the set of Hell's Heroes (1929) years before and were continuing their antagonistic relationship. Wyler liked to shoot numerous retakes and Bickford was very cranky, often refusing to say a line he didn't like or to vary his performance no matter how many takes he was forced to deliver. Also, Wyler clashed repeatedly with Gregory Peck, whom he'd worked well with on Roman Holiday. After Peck stormed off the set one day following a blazing row, Wyler told the press, "I wouldn't direct Peck again for a million dollars and you can quote me on that." They reconciled a year later but true to the director's word Wyler and Peck never made another film together.
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  • No Stunt Double: Gregory Peck and Charlton Heston did their fight scene themselves and per William Wyler's instructions, they were really hitting each other.
  • Real-Life Relative: Gregory Peck's sons are in the film.
  • Scully Box: Gregory Peck wore lifts in the film so he would look taller than Charlton Heston and more in line with Chuck Connors. Which is pretty funny considering that Peck was already a pretty tall guy himself (he's widely considered one of the classic examples of tall, dark and handsome).
  • Writing by the Seat of Your Pants: Jean Simmons was so traumatized by the experience making the film that she refused to talk about it for years until an interview in the late eighties when she revealed,
    We'd have our lines learned, then receive a rewrite, stay up all night learning the new version, then receive yet another rewrite the following morning. It made the acting damned near impossible.
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