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The Big Country

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William Wyler’s sprawling Western about iron-willed ranchers squabbling over desirable land, The Big Country, is one of the prime wide-screen epics of the late ’50s, but today it’s remembered mostly for composer Jerome Moross’ magnificent Big Sky score. While this excellent new letterboxed transfer has the usual bonuses (interviews, behind-the-scenes footage), it is Moross’ music that dominates. On one audio channel you get it unencumbered by sound effects or dialogue; on another, scholar William Rosar explicates Moross’ technical innovations in a refreshingly unpretentious, informative way. Different, and a treat.