Movie Review - Giant (1956)- Part 1

By Ugur Akinci

Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, Giant, James Dean (Films), Elizabeth Taylor (Films), Dramas by Title, Dramas, Movie Actors, Celebrities by Name, Movie Actresses, James Dean
Giant, Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, 1956 - Click to purchase print 

"Giant" is the "Gone With the Wind" of Texas, more or less.

The 23-year old Elizabeth Taylor, 24-year old James Dean, and 28-year old Rock Hudson all deliver the performances of a lifetime in the hands of director George Stevens who also gave us "A Place in the Sun," featuring again an even younger (19 years old!) Elizabeth Taylor with Montgomery Clift.

But "Giant" has its 19-year old pro as well - Dennis Hopper, who was back then fresh off from finishing "A Rebel Without a Cause" with Jimmy Dean.

This would be the legendary James Dean's third and last film. A few days after finishing his scenes, even when the shooting was still continuing, Dean would be killed in that famous car accident. The reason why perhaps he wasn't killed earlier was the article George Stevens had included in Dean's contract that he could not race his sports car while they were shooting his scenes on the set. A wise man Stevens was. They didn't call him "The Indian" for nothing.

The film that took 50 days of shooting in Marfa, (southwest) Texas, took a full year to edit the 850,000 feet of film that Stevens shot, which comes to 17,000 feet of film a day. The dailies were flown to Los Angeles, developed, and shipped back to Marfa with the next plane.

Giant was adapted from Edna Ferber's novel which rubbed many Texans the wrong way for casting an unsympathetic light on certain aspects of Texan way of life including the discrimination of Mexicans and Hispanics. Eleven years before "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," this film had the courage to openly depict racial discrimination and the transformation of its lead character from a good-old boy bigot to a good-old boy who develops the compassion for his Hispanic daughter in law and grandson, and risks a fist fight at a hamburger joint for the rights of Hispanic-Americans not even related to him by blood.

Jordan Benedict is a third generation Texan cattle rancher who falls in love with the feisty Marylander Leslie when he visits a horse farm in genteel Maryland to purchase a prize breeding horse. Their marriage and move to Texas is a bit abrupt. Leslie finds a totally different, arid and rough world in Texas. She asserts her rights as an individual and a woman in a world of men. Film historians claim "Giant" was the first Texan movie in which a strong woman did not just stood by her man but for herself and the other women's rights as well.

The wild joker in the deck is Jett Rink, played with amazing economy and layered emotions by James Dean - a farm hand and a nobody who secretly falls in love with Leslie but can't do anything even after he strikes oil on the land that was left to him through the will of Jordan's sister. But Jett becomes filthy rich in the new era of oil boom and eventually convinces Jordan to go into oil business as well without, however, ever becoming friends.

(Click Here To continue to part 2)

Ugur Akinci, Ph.D. is a writer with 20 years of experience. He is available for a wide variety of freelance assignments. Visit his web site for more information on his services.

Article Source: Movie Review - Giant (1956)- Part 1


Rebecca has lived in Texas for over 20 years. Her location informs much of what she knows and is why she decided to create this blog.
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