Big Sky, The (1952): Hawks Oscar-Nominated Western, Starring Kirk Douglas and Arthur Hunnicutt

Produced and directed by Howard Hawks, the Western The Big Sky is based on the novel of the same name.

Though not one of Hawks strongest films, The Big Sky still holds some merits. It’s the first and only collaboration between Hawks and Kirk Douglas, who’s well cast.

Set in 1832, the tale centers on Jim Deakins (Douglas), who’s travelling in the wilderness where he encounters the initially hostile Boone Caudill (Dewey Martin). However, they soon become friends and head together to St. Louis on the Missouri River, searching for Boone’s uncle, Zeb Calloway (Arthur Hunnicutt).

They find him when they are tossed in jail for brawling with fur traders of the Missouri River Company.  ‘Frenchy’ Jourdonnais (Steven Geray) comes to bail Zeb out, and Zeb talks him into paying for Jim and Boone.

The two men join an expedition organized by Zeb and Frenchy, who owns a sailing barge called ‘Mandan’. Recruiting other trappers, they begin to travel 2,000 miles up the Missouri and into the Yellowstone River to seek trade with the Blackfoot Indians, in competition with the Missouri Fur Company.

Oscar nominations: 2

Supporting Actor: Arthur Hunnicutt
Cinematography (black-and-white): Russell Harlan

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

In 1952, Anthony Quinn won the Supporting Actor Oscar for Kazan’s biopic “Viva Zapata.”

Robert Surtees won the Best Cinematography Oscar for Minnelli’s Hollywood melodrama “The Bad and the Beautiful.”