ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Film Review: Duel in the Sun

Updated on September 16, 2016
Film Frenzy profile image

Written by: Jason Wheeler, Film Frenzy Senior Writer & Editor.


In 1946, King Vidor released Duel in the Sun based on the 1944 novel of the same name by Niven Busch. Starring Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotton, Gregory Peck, Lionel Barrymore, Herbert Marshall, Lilian Gish, Walter Huston Charles Bickford, Butterfly McQueen and Harry Carey, the film grossed $20.4 million at the Box Office. Nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role and Best Actress in a Supporting Role and the Venice Film Festival Grand International Award, the film won the festival's Cinecetta Cup.


After Pearl Chavez’ father catches her mother with a lover, he shoots her and is executed as punishment. However prior to the execution, he arranges for Pearl to live with his second cousin. However, after coming to live at the cattle ranch, she winds up in a love triangle between said cousin’s second son, Lewt and neighboring rancher Sam.


A scandalous film for the time, with content that many would still find so today, Duel in the Sun is pretty interesting with some well-done characterization. In fact, Lewt's character is an important aspect of the film. He’s an enormous hothead who likes the sound of his own voice as well as thinks himself to be the cleverest person around. But when it all comes down to it, he’s an arrogant jerk who brought about the tragic end of the film through his smugness. It really all starts when he starts to try and woo Pearl, who continues to refuse his advances. And this is where the scandalous nature of the relationship came from as Pearl and Lewt are related, albeit distantly, but eventually she relents and begins a relationship with him, though it could be argued that she’s essentially believing that there’s no use continuing to rebuff him as he’s always just going to keep trying as she does resist before giving in, which may be part of her thinking the whole thing through.

However, in Lewt’s smug nature, it would appear that all he really wanted to do was humiliate her as well as fulfill his desires. Later on, after the ranch hands know of their relationship, they decide to tell everyone that they’re getting engaged. But his true nature comes out when Lewt tells his father that he’s just playing with her and calls her by some racial slurs. It really shows the convergence of his self-love and hostility. And when Pearl goes running to Sam, it’s apparent that Lewt is under the impression that she’s only his, even with his maliciousness towards her.

Eventually, all the hostilities converge into death, with Lewt having murdered Sam and then a finishing shootout between Pearl and Lewt. However, it’s enormously clear that even though she’s just finished with him, Pearl still has a great amount of affection for Lewt. And he does to her, even though he shows it with different forms of abuse. Because when they both shoot each other, they die proclaiming their love for each other.

The whole film gives a good long look at how complex infatuation can be and how it’s often mistaken for love as well as a look into an abusive relationship. It’s apparent that Lewt doesn’t love her, but doesn’t want anybody else to have her, making it so that she can only come back to him. On the other hand, Pearl doesn’t have anywhere else to go and believes herself to be in love with Lewt when she’s merely infatuated and stays around because of how he makes her believe that she’s only worth being loved by him.

At the same time, there’s some good foreshadowing going on through the film. Early on, Pearl is given guidance by a traveling preacher, a hypocritical man that keeps drawing attention to Pearl’s body and its attractiveness while telling her to fight a life of sexual temptation. He gives her a medal to wear that will keep her sweet and clean. Later on, Lewt gets rid of the medal, mocking its meaning and it’s not hard to think that Pearl might have lived if that medal had stayed on.

4 stars for Duel in the Sun

the postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent WNI's positions, strategies or opinion


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)