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Duel in the Sun Details


In David O. Selznick's florid, overheated melodrama Duel in the Sun Jennifer Jones stars as half-Native American Pearl Chavez, who everyone has tagged as a "bad girl" foredoomed to an unhappy end. Her father is Scott Chavez (Herbert Marshall), an ill-fated fellow who kills his wife and her lover (Sidney Blackmer) and gets hung for it. Pearl is taken into the home of the greedy rancher McCanles (Lionel Barrymore) and his kindly wife Laura Belle (Lillian Gish), who'd once been Scott's sweetheart. McCanles's virtuous son Jesse (Joseph Cotten), befriends Pearl and ffeels some stirrings of attraction to her, though Jesse is far more taken by Helen Langford (Joan Tetzel), the daughter of a wealthy railroad tycoon (Otto Kruger). In the mean time, Pearl catches the eye of Jesse's evil brother, ne'er-do-well Lewt (Gregory Peck), who seduces her but refuses to marry her. Pearl falls for straw boss Sam Pierce (Charles Bickford), who proposes marriage, though the engagement is short-lived: Lewt learns of the couple's involvement and ends up killing Sam; then McCanles turns up and cautions Lewt to stay out of sight until things quiet down. Lewt indeed flees the premises and becomes an outlaw. Meanwhile, McCanles organizes his cattlemen into an enormous stand against Kruger and other railroad men; Jesse initially decides to aid his father but then switches sides at the last moment, and in response, McCanles disowns him. With this film, producer Selznick attempted to recreate the success of Charles Bickford; it fell far short in terms of box office success, though Duel was critically acclaimed upon release. Many have often jokingly referred to the picture as 'Lust in the Dust,' which eventually became the actual title of a 1985 comedy western by Paul Bartel. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

  • Release date:December 31, 1946


Awarded by
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Jennifer Jones Best Actress 1946 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Lillian Gish Best Supporting Actress 1946 Nominee


Jennifer Jones
as Pearl Chavez
Griff Barnett
as The Jailer
Gregory Peck
as Lewt McCanles
Charles Bickford
as Sam Pierce
Joseph Cotten
as Jesse McCanles
Lionel Barrymore
as Senator McCanles
Sidney Blackmer, Sr.
as The Lover
Lillian Gish
as Laura Belle McCanles
Harry Carey
as Lem Smoot
Herbert Marshall
as Scott Chavez
Lane Chandler
as Captain, US Cavalry
Walter Huston
as Preacher
Frank Cordell
as Frank
Charles Dingle
as Sheriff Hardy
Otto Kruger
as Mr. Langford
Tilly Losch
as Mrs. Chavez
Francis McDonald
as Gambler
Bob McKenzie
as Bartender
Butterfly McQueen
as Vashti
Joan Tetzel
as Helen Langford
Dan White
as Ed
Lee Phelps
as Engineer
Rose Plummer
as Dancer
Guy Wilkerson
as Barfly
Hank Worden
as Cowhand
Si Jenks
Bert Roach
as Eater
Orson Welles
as Narrator
Victor Kilian
as Gambler


King Vidor
David O. Selznick
Oliver H.P. Garrett
David O. Selznick
Niven Busch
Book Author
Lee Garmes
Harold Hal Rosson
Ray Rennahan
Dimitri Tiomkin
Musical Direction/Supervision
Dimitri Tiomkin
Composer (Music Score)
William H. Ziegler
Hal Kern
James Basevi
Art Director
Emile Kuri
Set Designer
Walter Plunkett
Costume Designer
Richard DeWeese
Sound/Sound Designer
Clarence Slifer
Special Effects
Tilly Losch