Its a Big Country (1951) Poster

Its a Big Country (1951)

  • Rate: 5.9/10 total 248 votes 
  • Genre: Comedy | Drama
  • Release Date: 20 November 1951 (USA)
  • Runtime: 89 min
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Its a Big Country (1951)

Its a Big Country 1951tt0043680.jpg poster

  • IMDb page: Its a Big Country (1951)
  • Rate: 5.9/10 total 248 votes 
  • Genre: Comedy | Drama
  • Release Date: 20 November 1951 (USA)
  • Runtime: 89 min
  • Filming Location: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios – 10202 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, California, USA
  • Stars: Ethel Barrymore, Keefe Brasselle and Gary Cooper|See full cast and crew
  • Soundtrack: God Bless America
  • Sound Mix: Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
  • Plot Keyword: Episodic Structure | Patriotism | Americana

Writing Credits By:

    (in alphabetical order)

  • Edgar Brooke  story (segment 1)
  • Ray Chordes  segment 4
  • Claudia Cranston  segment 5
  • Helen Deutsch  segments 2, 3
  • Dorothy Kingsley  segment 7
  • Isobel Lennart  story (segment 4)
  • William Ludwig  segment 1
  • John McNulty  story
  • Charles Palmer 
  • Joseph Petracca  story
  • Allen Rivkin  story (segment 5)
  • Dore Schary  segment 8
  • Lucille Schlossberg  segment 6
  • George Wells  story (segment 8)

Known Trivia

    Goofs: Factual errors: When the census taker asks Ethel Barrymore her name, she replies "Mrs. Brian Patrick Riordan" and he writes it down. Always with censuses, a woman's given name is entered.

    Plot: The story, told in eight episodes, covers different facets of the American Spirit, from racial and religious… See more » |  »

    Story: The story, told in eight episodes, covers different facets of the American Spirit, from racial and religious tolerance to the dangers of self-centeredness and myopic reasoning. The parables represent a broad cross-section of the American experience: the elderly woman whose pride is injured when she's forgotten in the latest census; the novice minister more pleased with the sound of his own voice than with the needs of his congregation; the mother who confronts the illogic of racial intolerance when she meets the best friend of the son she lost to war; and the enigma that is Texas. Episode titles are: 1) Interruptions, Interruptions; 2) Census Taker; 3) Negro Story; 4) Rosika, the Rose; 5) Letter from Korea; 6) Lone Star; (7) Minister in Washington; 8) Four Eyes; a further episode, titled Load, directed by Anthony Mann, with 'Jean Hersholt' (q.v.) and 'Ann Harding' (q.v.), was filmed but deleted.Written by Chris Stone <[email protected]>  

    FullCast & Crew

    Produced By:

    • Robert Sisk known as producer
    • Dore Schary known as producer (uncredited)

    FullCast & Crew:

    • Ethel Barrymore known as Mrs. Brian Patrick Riordan
    • Keefe Brasselle known as Sgt. Maxie Klein
    • Gary Cooper known as Texas
    • Nancy Davis known as Miss Coleman
    • Van Johnson known as Rev. Adam Burch
    • Gene Kelly known as Icarus Xenophon
    • Janet Leigh known as Rosa Szabo Xenophon
    • Marjorie Main known as Mrs. Wrenley
    • Fredric March known as Joe Esposito
    • George Murphy known as Mr. Callaghan
    • William Powell known as Professor
    • S.Z. Sakall known as Stefan Szabo
    • Lewis Stone known as Church sexton
    • James Whitmore known as Mr. Stacey
    • Keenan Wynn known as Michael Fisher
    • Leon Ames known as Secret Service Man
    • Angela Clarke known as Mama Esposito
    • Robert Hyatt known as Joseph Esposito (as Bobby Hyatt)
    • Sharon McManus known as Sam Szabo
    • Ann Harding known as Undetermined role / deleted episode (scenes deleted)
    • Jean Hersholt known as Undetermined role / deleted episode (scenes deleted)
    • David Alpert known as Greek Athlete (uncredited)
    • Jeralyn Alton known as Yolande Szabo (uncredited)
    • Dolly Arriaga known as Concetta Esposito (uncredited)
    • Bill Baldwin known as Austin (uncredited)
    • Benny Burt known as Soda Jerk (uncredited)
    • Louis Calhern known as Narrator (uncredited)
    • Ray Chordes known as Narrator (uncredited)
    • Roger Cole known as Reporter (uncredited)
    • George Conrad known as Greek Athlete (uncredited)
    • Lucille Curtis known as Miss Bloomsburg (uncredited)
    • George Economides known as Theodore (uncredited)
    • Don Fields known as George (uncredited)
    • Tiny Francone known as Girl in Classroom (uncredited)
    • Ned Glass known as Newspaper Office Receptionist (uncredited)
    • Don Gordon known as Mervin (uncredited)
    • A. Cameron Grant known as Proprietor of Inn (uncredited)
    • Richard Grindle known as Greek Athlete (uncredited)
    • Sherry Hall known as Census Bureau Assistant Supervisor (uncredited)
    • Hal Hatfield known as Greek Athlete (uncredited)
    • June Hedin known as Kati Szabo (uncredited)
    • Jerry Hunter known as Frank Grillo (uncredited)
    • Jacqueline Kenley known as Margit Szabo (uncredited)
    • Anthony Lappas known as Greek Athlete (uncredited)
    • Mickey Little known as Boy (uncredited)
    • Mickey Martin known as Copyboy (uncredited)
    • George McDonald known as Boy (uncredited)
    • Luana Mehlberg known as Lenka Szabo (uncredited)
    • Rhea Mitchell known as School Teacher (uncredited)
    • Roger Moore known as Reporter (uncredited)
    • Costas Morfis known as Greek Athlete (uncredited)
    • Tom Nickols known as Greek Athlete (uncredited)
    • Carol Nugent known as Girl (uncredited)
    • Elisabeth Risdon known as Diner on Train (uncredited)
    • Fred Santley known as Census Bureau Supervisor (uncredited)
    • Harry Stanton known as Reporter (uncredited)
    • Henry Sylvester known as Reporter (uncredited)
    • Tony Taylor known as Baby Sitter (uncredited)
    • William H. Welsh known as Census Bureau Official (uncredited)



    Supporting Department

    Makeup Department:
    • Sydney Guilaroff known as hair stylist
    • William Tuttle known as makeup artist




    Production Companies:

    • Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)


    • Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) (1951) (USA) (theatrical)



    Other Stuff

    Release Date:
    • USA 20 November 1951



    Filmography links and data courtesy of The Internet Movie Database

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    Posted on January 17, 2013 by freeonlinemoviestreaming in Movies | Tags: , , .


    1. bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
      17 Jan 2013, 2:37 pm

      I doubt if a film like It's A Big Country could be made in and aboutthe America of post Vietnam and Watergate. A whole lot of the clichéspresented here just aren't bought any more by large segments of thepopulation. For whatever it's worth the film is a presentation of whatwe thought about ourselves in 1951.

      It's a film with several different segments, some serious some prettyfunny about every day Americans in all walks of life, in all parts ofthe then 48 states.

      The two I liked best were those that ironically starred the two men whowere not MGM contract players, Gary Cooper and Fredric March. GaryCooper plays a Texas cowboy talking about his state and disillusioningus with a tongue in cheek delivery about the way Texans and Texas areperceived by the other 47 states. Of course Cooper's humor and thewhole premise behind this segment was that Texas was our largest statein land mass. That ended in 1959 when Alaska became the 49th state,still it's the highlight of It's A Big Country.

      Fredric March plays an Italian American father who's opposed to hisson, Bobby Hyatt, getting needed glasses even after teacher Nancy Davistells him it's necessary. He's got some old world ideas that need a bitof adjustment. March plays the role with dignity never do you feel he'sa caricature.

      Another episode that is nicely done involves Gene Kelly, Greek Americanboy falling for Janet Leigh, Hungarian American girl. They've got aproblem though, her father played by Hollywood's number one HungarianS.Z. Sakall. In the past 20 years we've seen a whole lot of storiesabout ancient ethnic hatreds coming out of Eastern Europe. Sakall iscarrying some old grudges against Greeks though he really isn't surewhy. Point being that here in America you're supposed to leave that allbehind. That segment is still very much relevant.

      Could we make It's A Big Country today? Not at this time, maybe at somefuture point when we've reached a national consensus that despite allour problems, America's a pretty good place after all.

    2. jehrsam from United States
      17 Jan 2013, 2:37 pm

      I saw this movie when it originally came out and I took more people tosee it in at least two successive trips to the old Crawford Theater. Itis touching and worthwhile and depicts an America that all should see.Ethel Barrymore gives one of the best performances of her career. Thepreacher to the President is another vignette that stands out. Thereare memorable performances by Gary Cooper, Van Johnson, Gene Kelly, andMarjorie Main. Each vignette is a memorable one and all touch yourheartstrings and provoke thought. It would be nice if it were availableon DVD or even tape. What a delightful anthology this is. I recommendthis to all. It is a movie you will enjoy.

    3. spirit11 from Memphis, TN
      17 Jan 2013, 2:37 pm

      WARNING: These comments may reveal portions of the film’splot.

      I had thought that the "episodic" film format was an invention of the1980′sart film. "It’s a Big Country" killed that myth by presenting a film aboutthe USA that is built on eight different episodes. The episodes are drawntogether by a common narration, their focus on different ways of looking atthe USA, and the introductory episode which lays out the concept for thefilm.

      In the opening segment, James Whitmore rides a commuter train and tellsanother rider, "I love this country?" The other rider’s response catchesWhitmore off guard. "Which country?" He then points out that the USA ismanycountries — political, military, religious, industrious, urban, rural, andmany others. Each of the following seven segments of the film then focus onvarious ways of looking at the USA.

      The actors in those seven segments are a "Who’s Who" of 1950′s film. Thealready mentioned Whitmore, Gene Kelly, Van Johnson, Gary Cooper, JanetLeigh and Keenan Wynn share the screen along with many others, includinglegends Ethel Barrymore and Fredric March. If you are a classic film lover,check out the list of credits and you’ll find at least one favorite amongthe actors.

      The film overall only comes across as average however — it seems rather"preachy" on the concept of acceptance, and the happy endings of thesegments come across too sugary. Fortunately the great acting in some ofthesegments pull them to the top of the heap. Gary Cooper’s deadpan deliverycombined with his Texas drawl in the one true comedy segment work’s well.And the final segment in which a young immigrant boy finds he must wearglasses at the risk of ridicule of his father as well as his friends atschool is equally appealing.

      There is one glaring inconsistency in the film. The overall point seems tobe that we must drop our racial stereotypes. To that end virtually everyracial stereotype is presented and cut down. Each of the episodes of thefilm is presented as independent stories within the film — little storieswithin the story. But when they presented the segment focusing on AfricanAmerican’s, no story is given, only a narrated segment with stock shots ofblack America are presented. Not one known American actor of Africandescentis included. In this respect, Hollywood seems to have been unable toovercome it’s own prejudice and exclusionary practices of thattime.

      You might enjoy portions of this film, but most persons will either stoppart way through or fall asleep during this average film.

    4. dbdumonteil
      17 Jan 2013, 2:37 pm

      This par excellence a film only the American could make.I cannotimagine a French,English or Italian director making a movie to glorifyhis/her country.

      Wellmann and co tell us that America is a big country ,with bigdifferences but where everybody has his place in the sun: in the"celebrities" segment,there are plenty of black artists such asArmstrong ,but the civil rights were ignored in 1949.

      What saves this naive film containing more finer feelings than a Capramovie,is some kind of humor .Take the first scene on a train and thelast sentence of the baffled traveler or the Hungarian daddy who doesnot want his daughters to marry a Greek,cause we are "enemies" .Howgreat the melting pot is!And so are Gene Kelly and Janet Leigh.

      Some stars only appear a few minutes:Gary Cooper tells us what awonderful state "Lone Star" Texas is where oil spurts out everywhereunder your feet;Ethel Barrymore plays a delightful old lady who iscross cause she was not counted when they took a census of thepopulation.

      The last sketch ,about glasses ,was perhaps not a very good choice toconclude the movie.

      It was,is and will always be a big country.

    5. benjweil from New York, NY
      17 Jan 2013, 2:37 pm

      This movie seems like a good idea — debunking myths and defusingprejudice, showing us all how diverse America is — but it also begsthe question of why nearly all the main characters are WASPs (okay,except for S.Z. Sakall)! Janet Leigh is lovely in the Hungarian-Greeklove story, but why not cast someone Hungarian, or at least EasternEuropean? And Gene Kelly as a Greek (speaking, by the way, with aperfect American accent, but a few stiff phrases thrown in to show he'sa foreigner)? Fredric March as an Italian father (named Esposito?) …and the list goes on. All wonderful actors, but miscast in this. Notonly are all the actors as white as snow, the rhetoric is prettyheavy-handed, too. I love many of the old Hollywood movies, but thisone could have used a more realistic approach. The '50s were a strangetime in American film, as in American life. Everything and everybodywere supposed to be sparklingly clean and chipper all the time. We hadto wait until the '60s for a wrench to be thrown into thoseoh-so-smoothly-functioning works …

    6. mountainkath from United States
      17 Jan 2013, 2:37 pm

      I wanted to like this film. I really did. But, I could not. The premisewas a great idea, but it was poorly executed. The only reason I keptwatching was because of the amazing superstar cast.

      My favorite stories were the first one with the gentlemen on the traindiscussing America and the Gary Cooper segment where he was talkingabout Texas. Both of these segments held my attention and I thoughtthey were very well done. Sadly, this was not the case for the rest ofthe film.

      I enjoyed the Nancy Davis plot about the boy needing glasses, but itwent on a bit too long and seemed to get quite bogged down. I'm a hugeGene Kelly fan and wanted to enjoy his segment more than I did.However, I couldn't help being totally distracted that he and JanetLeigh decided to marry after knowing each other just a few minutes. Iknow this is a common plot to classic movies, but it still distractedme. Another distraction was Kelly romancing a woman much younger thanhim but again…this was a common theme in classic movies (and Kellymovies).

      I enjoyed Ethel Barrymore's segment solely because of Barrymore. Theplot was so thin and dragged on much too long.

      I'm glad I watched this movie (seeing so many stars over the course ofjust 90 minutes was a real treat), but I doubt I'll ever watch itagain.

    7. ABetterDay from United States
      17 Jan 2013, 2:37 pm

      Anyone who aspires to those things which have made America the greatestnation the world has known should own this film and watch it often.

      A who's who of Hollywood in the period 1930 thru 1951, this wonderfultelling of America's greatness shows a time when the liberal media wasin check and Americans were taught to be PROUD of what we have built. Afar cry from the liberal propaganda that is spewed on your 6pm "news"today.

      Watch the opening interaction between Spencer Tracy and William Powell.If Powell's oratory does not move you to want to see the rest of thisoutstanding piece of American film history, you might as well book aone-way ticket to another country. Maybe you'd be happier there.

      A wonderful film of America, for Americans. Easily 10 of 10.

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