Pearl/Lewt from Duel In Th Sun
Jennifer Jones, Gregory Peck, Joseph Cotten
Pearl (Jones) is the half breed child of a white man who is hanged. After his death, she goes to live with distant relatives in Texas and becomes the object of interest for two brothers. While Jesse (Cotton) is responsible and kind, Lewt (Peck) is rough and unruly. Pearl is coerced by Lewt, and her own undeniable attraction to him, into being his lover. This isn't quite as romantic as it sounds - while Lewt and Pearl are obviously in lust with one another, Lewt is physically abusive (he shoves pie in her face at one point and rapes her) and demanding to the point of treating Pearl like a child. Once Jesse discovers her illicit relationship with his brother, he doesn't disown her or shun her, but he quietly disentangles himself from her and marries another woman. Pearl then is stuck in a twisted, abusive relationship
- made even more dire by the fact that Lewt kills any man willing to marry her, even though Lewt himself refuses to marry her. Many people know this movie because of its infamous ending, but the rest of the movie hinges on the interaction between these two characters and actually makes the movie - despite of and besides its ending - very interesting. Pearl is especially complex because she is drawn to Lewt because of his physical attractiveness, but also because of a deep-seated hate and loathing she harbors for herself as a half-breed that everyone looks down on. Once caught up in a scandalous affair with Lewt, she thinks even less of herself and believes she really isn't deserving of something better. At a time when people perhaps weren't as aware of domestic violence and the deep psychological issues at hand in these types of relationships, Duel in the Sun actually touches on some pretty authentic and realistic behavior. No matter how badly Lewt treats her, Pearl seems compelled to return to him over and over. I, personally, am one of those who doesn't really look at the ending as being traditionally romantic, but it seems to be the only ending possible for these two characters. The movie is undeniably melodramatic and campy, no question, but the interaction between these two is interesting to watch.