The Big Country has one exceptional element Burl Ives. Everything he touches is improved at least somewhat by being near him. He's great, he makes you understand his character, and even manages to make the father/son relationship in the film rather heartbreaking, despite the son being a pretty one dimensional character. The films struggles in every area outside of Ives. The relationships are very thinly drawn and there direction is obvious the moment you see them. The parts don't help for the most part Peck plays a bland leading man, Charlton Heston plays a bland bully (a role I assume he must have played to be in Wyler's far superior Ben-Hur the next year), Jean Simmons plays a bland "good woman" and Carroll Baker is the bland "bad woman". The performers don't add anything to what is written, but there was almost nothing there to begin with. Charles Bickford's part had potential but he wastes it with an extremely uncharismatic performance. The film seems so oddly misguided in almost every respect. I always go back to a pivotal scene where Bickford's men first stand against his plan to basically cause a massacre. Then for whatever reason when he's riding alone it plays heroic music when his men come back to join him all embracing a pointless demise I guess.