- The Wonderful Country
name = "The Wonderful Country"
author = Tom Lea
illustrator = Tom Lea
cover_artist = Tom Lea
subject = Mexican-American Border Region
Fugitives from justice
genre = Western
Little, Brown and Company(Boston)
pub_date = 1952
pages = 307
isbn = 9780875652610
oclc = 288704
The Brave Bulls
followed_by = The Primal Yoke
"The Wonderful Country" (aka "The Wonderful Country, A Novel") is a 1952 Western
novelwritten by Tom Lea. The book is set in Chihuahuaand Sonora, Mexico, and Texasand New Mexicoin the United States.
After the financial success of "
The Brave Bulls", Lea wanted to write a story that he had been thinking about since he was a child, "...write about this borderland and about the people on both sides of the river".Lea, Tom (illustrations and interviews), Rebecca McDowell Craver and Adair Margo, (1995). - "Tom Lea, An Oral History". - El Paso, Texas: Texas Western Press. - p.107. ISBN 9780874042344]
Martin Brady, at age 14, flees to Mexico from Texas after he kills the man who murdered his father. Now, 14 years later, in 1880s Mexico, he is called Martín Bredi. He is a hired gun for a rich Mexican rancher and Chihuahuan warlord, Cipriano Castro, and starts to feel like he would like to go back to Texas. When he gets back to Texas he breaks his leg and has to stay put in the town while he heals. There he falls in love with the wife of a cavalry officer. After killing a man he returns to Mexico again, but now Castro is suspicious of him. Wanted in the United States and distrusted in Mexico, he must make a deal with Texas Rangers and help them fight the
Apachesto get back home. Also a crucial character to the story is Brady's horse, a black stallion named Lágrimas.
In "TIME"'s review, the magazine said about it: "...is an honest book written with obvious care and even reserved passion..." But, the review continues by saying that Lea is better at landscape development than character development: "Neither Brady nor anyone else in the book is a successfully developed character, but with all its weaknesses The Wonderful Country is still a western plus. What is extra comes in Author Lea's fine descriptive writing, a love for the West that is conveyed with grace and dignity, an authentic sense of place." [ [http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,817332,00.html "Down by the Rio Grande"] . - "TIME". - November 17, 1957. - Retrieved: 2008-07-04]
Lou Rodenberge, of McMurry College, said that the novel is: "...the best to date of all fiction created from materials of border life", from "The Southern Border" in "A Literary History of the American West". [Rodenberge, Lou, (1987). - "The Southern Border". - "A Literary History of the American West". - Fort Worth, Texas: Texas Christian University Press. - ISBN 9780875650210]
"One of the finest of all Southwest novels by a Southwesterner, whose power with pencil and paint is perfectly matched by his way with words". Said Lawrence Clark Powell. [Powell, Lawrence Clark, (1959). - [http://parentseyes.arizona.edu/hswbib.html "Heart of the Southwest: A Selective Bibliography of Novels, Stories and Tales Laid in Arizona and New Mexico & Adjacent Lands"] . - (c/o
University of Arizona). - Los Angeles, California: The Plantin Press. - Retrieved: 2008-07-04]
It became a 1959 film starring
Robert Mitchum(also executive producer with his company, D.R.M. Productions, producing) and Julie London, directed by Robert Parrish, and Robert Ardreyadapted the book to the screenplay. Lea also has a bit part as Mr. Peebles (the barber). Satchel Paigehas a cameo role as the leader of an Afro-American unit of the U.S. Cavalry, the Buffalo Soldiers. [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053453/ The Wonderful Country] . - IMDb]
The motion picture was filmed in the state of
Durango. Parrish and Lea first asked Henry Fonda, then Gregory Peckto take the starring role. But, Mitchum really wanted to do the film, and after Fonda and Peck said no, Mitchum took over prodcution. The film was not well received at the box office and by some critics, but other critics considered it beautifully filmed, by cinematographers Floyd Crosby and Alex Phillips. [ [http://www.tcm.com/thismonth/article.jsp?cid=31560&mainArticleId=118136 The Wonderful Country] . - Turner Classic Movies]
"TIME" said about it: "But the result is just a crying Shane. All that is truly dramatic is the wonderful country itself" and about Mitchum's performance: "...he sounds like an Aztec exchange student after six terms at C.C.N.Y.". "The rest of the plot is as snarled as a ball of tumbleweed." and; "...a western that is more woolly than wild". [ [http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,894279,00.html The New Pictures] . - "TIME". - October 5, 1959. - Retrieved: 2008-07-04]
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