A tragic love triangle leaves “half-breed” Pearl Chavez an orphan. She goes to live with her father’s former sweetheart on a cattle ranch in Texas, where the older woman lives with her husband Senator Jackson McCanles and her two sons. The elder son Jesse treats the newly-arrived distant relative with gentlemanly respect, while his younger brother Lewt makes aggressive advances toward her that culminate in rape. From that moment on, Pearl and Lewt are locked in a fierce love-hate relationship that leads inexorably to the final scene that gives the film its title … David O. Selznick no doubt hoped this grandiose family epic would outstrip even the success of his Gone with the Wind (1939), and employed a half-dozen or so directors and cinematographers to ensure that. The emotional tenor is nearly as effusive as the use of colour effects, which seem to be aimed at overpowering the audience, and magnificently illuminate the film. While the narrative passages are dominated by bright daylight, special colour filters are used to imbue the scenes of blazing passion with emotional accents by reinforcing the warm reds of dusk’s low-key light.
by King Vidor
with Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten, Gregory Peck