Beautiful, biracial, Pearl Chavez becomes the ward of her dead father's first love and finds herself torn between her sons, one good and the other bad.


King Vidor, Otto Brower (uncredited) | 5 more credits »


David O. Selznick (screenplay), Niven Busch (suggested by a novel by) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Jennifer Jones ... Pearl Chavez
Joseph Cotten ... Jesse McCanles
Gregory Peck ... Lewton 'Lewt' McCanles
Lionel Barrymore ... Sen. Jackson McCanles
Herbert Marshall ... Scott Chavez
Lillian Gish ... Laura Belle McCanles
Walter Huston ... The Sinkiller
Charles Bickford ... Sam Pierce
Harry Carey ... Lem Smoot
Joan Tetzel ... Helen Langford
Tilly Losch ... Mrs. Chavez
Butterfly McQueen ... Vashti
Scott McKay ... Sid
Otto Kruger ... Mr. Langford
Sidney Blackmer ... The Lover


When her father is hanged for shooting his wife and her lover, the biracial Pearl Chavez goes to live with distant relatives in Texas. Welcomed by Laura Belle and her elder lawyer son Jesse, she meets with hostility from the ranch-owner himself, wheelchair-bound Senator Jackson McCanles, and with lustful interest from demonizing, unruly younger son Lewt. Almost at once, already existing family tensions are exacerbated by her presence and the way she is physically drawn to Lewt. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Emotions . . . As Violent As The Wind-Swept Prairie ! See more »


Drama | Romance | Western


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


This film is listed among The 100 Most Amusingly Bad Movies Ever Made in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson's book THE OFFICIAL RAZZIE® MOVIE GUIDE. See more »


Camera shadow on Dice's head when Lewt invited Pearl to go swimming after dinner. See more »


Pearl Chavez: Oh Vashti, why are you so slow?
Vashti: I don't rightly know, Miss Pearl, except I always have so much to remember.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The original "roadshow" version ran 144 minutes. The additional 16 minutes, over the commonly-shown 128 minute version, consisted of a musical "prelude," an "overture" (which contained a spoken prologue, by Orson Welles), and exit music, but no additional scenes in the film. The two additional opening sequences were each inadvertently given the other's label. See more »


Referenced in Inside the Actors Studio: Martin Scorsese (2002) See more »


First Party Music
Arranged by Frank Perkins
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User Reviews

"Under that heathen blanket there's a full-blossomed woman built by the Devil to drive men crazy!"
8 September 2014 | by utgard14See all my reviews

A half-Indian girl named Pearl Chavez (Jennifer Jones) is torn between the two sons of a wealthy cattle baron. Jesse (Joseph Cotten) is the educated, mannered 'nice' one. Lewt (Gregory Peck) is a ladies' man and a bad boy. We can tell which is which because the good one typically wears lighter colors and the bad one wears darker colors. Helpful. Pearl just can't resist Lewt no matter how bad he treats her. Leave your political correctness at the door, folks. This one's got a little something to offend almost everybody.

Extravagant "epic" western from David O. Selznick was an attempt to achieve the same success of Gone with the Wind. It's pure tawdry hokum. Yet another starring vehicle for Selznick's protégé (and future wife), Jennifer Jones. I've never been a huge fan of hers. She's certainly attractive enough, with her high cheekbones and radiant smile. I even find her lisp endearing. But she was a very limited actress. Usually she was cast in sensitive parts where she spoke most of her lines in a whispery tone while soft music played. Here she plays to the rafters, hamming it up so loudly she makes Hedy Lamarr's performance in White Cargo seem subtle. Starring with Jones are Gregory Peck and her frequent costar, Joseph Cotten, one of the few male leads the jealous Selznick trusted around his lady love. Cotten is perfect (when wasn't he?) but Peck is miscast and overacts even worse than Jones. The absurd ending with those two is justifiably infamous. The rest of the cast is made up of exceptional talents like Lionel Barrymore, Lillian Gish, Walter Huston, Harry Carey, and Herbert Marshall. The Dimitri Tiomkin score is fantastic. The sets and costumes are lavish, as they should be given the high production values this one had. The Technicolor is gorgeous. The script is laughably awful. Some of the dialogue these poor people have to say is just cringeworthy. Overall, it's a movie low on substance but high on spectacle. It keeps you interested throughout, despite its flaws (and maybe because of them). Definitely warrants a look but not everybody's cup of tea, for sure.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

21 November 1947 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

King Vidor's Duel in the Sun See more »


Box Office


$8,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (roadshow)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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