Giant

( 11 )

Overview

George Stevens' sprawling adaptation of Edna Ferber's best-selling novel successfully walks a fine line between potboiler and serious drama for its 210-minute running time, making it one of the few epics of its era that continues to hold up as engrossing entertainment across the decades. Giant opens circa 1922 in Maryland, where Texas rancher Jordan "Bick" Benedict Rock Hudson has arrived to buy a stallion called War Winds from its owner, Dr. Horace Lynnton Paul Fix. But much as Bick loves and knows horses, he ...
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Overview

George Stevens' sprawling adaptation of Edna Ferber's best-selling novel successfully walks a fine line between potboiler and serious drama for its 210-minute running time, making it one of the few epics of its era that continues to hold up as engrossing entertainment across the decades. Giant opens circa 1922 in Maryland, where Texas rancher Jordan "Bick" Benedict Rock Hudson has arrived to buy a stallion called War Winds from its owner, Dr. Horace Lynnton Paul Fix. But much as Bick loves and knows horses, he finds himself even more transfixed by the doctor's daughter, Leslie Lynnton Elizabeth Taylor, and after some awkward moments, she has to admit that she's equally drawn to the shy, laconic Texan. They get married and Leslie spends her honeymoon traveling with Jordan to his ranch, Reata, which covers nearly a million acres of Texas. Once there, however, she finds that she has to push her way into her rightful role as mistress of the house, past Bick's sister, Luz Mercedes McCambridge, who can't accept her brother's marriage or the changes it means in the home they share. Also working around Reata is the laconic ranch hand Jett Rink James Dean -- from a family as rooted in Texas as the Benedicts but not nearly as lucky or "foxy", Jett is dirt-poor and barely educated at all, and he fairly oozes resentment at Bick for his arrogance, although Luz likes him and for that reason alone Bick is obliged to keep him on. One thing Jett does have in common with his employer is that he is in awe of Leslie's beauty; another is his nearly total contempt for the Mexican-Americans who work for them -- Jett and Bick may have contempt for each other, but either one is just as likely to dismiss the Mexican-Americans around them as a bunch of shiftless "wetbacks." Luz feels so threatened with a loss of power and control that she decides to assert herself with War Winds, yet another "prize" that Bick brought back from Maryland that resists her authority -- then decides to ride the stallion despite being warned that no one but Leslie is wholly safe on him, and spurs him brutally in an effort to break him, which ends up destroying them both in the battle of wills she starts. After Luz's death, Jett learns that she left him a tiny piece of land for his own, on Reata, which he refuses to sell back to Bick, preferring to keep it for his own and maybe prospect for oil on it. Meanwhile, Leslie and Bick have their own problems -- Leslie can't abide the wretched conditions in which the Mexican families who work on Reata are allowed to live, taking a special interest in Mr. and Mrs. Obregon and their baby, Angel; but Bick doesn't want his wife, or any member of his family, concerning themselves with "those people." Leslie's humanity and her independence push their marriage to the limit, but Bick comes to accept this in his wife, and in four years of marriage they have three handsome children, a boy and two girls, and a loving if occasionally awkward home life. Meanwhile, Jett strikes oil on his land -- which he's named Little Reata -- and in a couple of years he's on his way to becoming the richest man in Texas, getting drilling contracts on all of the land in the area except Reata and making more money than the Benedicts ever saw from raising cattle. Bick is almost oblivious to the way Jett grows in power and influence across the years and the state, mostly because he's got his own family to worry about, including a son, Jordan III Dennis Hopper, who doesn't want to take over the ranch from him, but wants instead to be a doctor; an older daughter, Judy Fran Bennett, who wants to study animal husbandry and marry a local rancher Earl Holliman and start a tiny spread of her own; and a younger daughter, Luz Carroll Baker, who's just a bit man-crazy and star-struck by the movies. The American entry into the Second World War and the resulting need for oil forces Bick to go into business with Jett and allow him to drill on Reata, and suddenly the Benedicts are wealthy enough to be part of Jett Rink's circle, which includes the governor of the state and at least one United States senator at his beck and call -- and Luz develops a serious crush on Jett, who likes his women young and is especially attracted to her, as Bick's and Leslie's daughter. Young Jordan marries Juana, a Mexican-American nursing student Elsa Cardenas, and his father accepts it begrudgingly, with help from Leslie. The war kills Angel Obregon Sal Mineo, a death that even affects Bick, but the Benedict family gets through it wealthier than ever and grows some more with the birth of Jordan IV to Jordie and Juana. When the family attends a gala opening of Jett Rink Airport, which concludes with a dinner honoring Jett's success, however, young Jordan's wife is humiliated by Jett's racist edicts, and he is beaten up by Jett's men after punching the oil baron. Seeing this, Bick challenges his old rival to the fight that's been brewing for a quarter of a century and wins by default, Jett being too drunk to defend himself or to hit; he's also too drunk to make the grand speech that was to climax the celebration, and he ends up alone in the ballroom. The Benedicts have it out with each other, young Jordan accusing his father of being as much a racist as Jett, and Leslie caught in the middle between her husband and her son. It looks like the Benedicts may lose each other, until an encounter with a racist diner owner forces Bick to stand up and get knocked down more than once defending his daughter-in-law and his grandson. Seen today, Giant seems the least dated of any of James Dean's three starring films, in part because it addresses issues that remain relevant more than 50 years later, and also because it has the best all-around acting and the best script of any of the three. Taken in broader terms, it's even better, with two of the best performances that Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson ever gave, and perhaps the second best of Hudson's whole career after Seconds -- the only unfortunate element at modern theatrical screenings is the tendency of younger viewers, who only know him in terms of the revelations late in his life of his being gay, to laugh and snicker at elements of Hudson's characterization; but his work is so good that the titters usually fade after the first 30 minutes or so.
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Special Features

Closed Caption; Commentary by critic Stephen Farber, screenwriter Ivan Moffat and George Stevens Jr.; Introduction by George Stevens Jr.; Documentary George Stevens: Filmmakers Who Knew Him; Languages: English & Français; Subtitles: English, Français & Español; 2 documentary looks at the movie's legacy: Memories of Giant, Return to Giant; New York premiere TV special; Hollywood premiere featurette; Behind the Cameras segments; Original/reissue theatrical trailers; Extensive production notes; Stills and documents galleries; Director filmography; Awards notes
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Mark Deming
Even if it hadn't starred three of the most iconic screen figures of the 1950s, George Stevens's Giant would still be an emotionally powerful and visually striking film; adding Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, and James Dean (in his final performance) to the mix was just the icing on the cake. Dean contributes the highest-caliber fireworks, though his "Method" style sometimes blends uncomfortably with the more traditional performances of the other actors, but Stevens also drew atypically strong performances from Taylor and Hudson, who delivers perhaps his best performance on screen next to Seconds (1966). Based on Edna Ferber's novel, the story is a glorified soap opera, but Stevens's epic production strengthens the narrative rather than drowning it, providing a visual metaphor for the intimidating vastness of the Texas landscape. The image of the vast Benedict mansion slowly appearing as a tiny dot on the horizon is only the most memorable of the film's many indelible images. Giant is as big and sprawling as Texas itself; it's the tininess of the larger-than-life characters in the oilfields of the Southwest that keeps them human, and makes them all the more fascinating.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/31/2005
  • UPC: 012569706903
  • Original Release: 1956
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Home Video
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Special Edition / Wide Screen / Subtitled / Dubbed
  • Time: 3:21:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 71,919

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Elizabeth Taylor Leslie Lynnton
Rock Hudson Bick Benedict
James Dean Jett Rink
Carroll Baker Luz Benedict II
Mercedes McCambridge Luz Benedict
Jane Withers Vashti Synthe
Sal Mineo Angel Obregon Ill
Chill Wills Uncle Bawley
Dennis Hopper Jordan Benedict III
Judith Evelyn Mrs. Horace Lynnton
Paul Fix Dr. Horace Lynnton
Rod Taylor Sir David Karfrey
Earl Holliman Bob Dace
Robert Nichols Pinky Synthe
Alexander Scourby Old Polo
Fran Bennett Judy Benedict
Charles Watts Whitside
Elsa Cardenas Juana Benedict
Carolyn Craig Lacey Lynnton
Monte Hale Bale Clinch
Mary Ann Edwards Adarene Clinch
Victor Millan Angel Obregon I
Mickey Simpson Sarge
Pilar del Rey Mrs. Obregon
Maurice Jara Dr. Guerra
Noreen Nash Lorna Lane
Napoleon Whiting Swazey
Ray Whitley Watts
Tina Menard Lupe
Rush Williams Waiter
Julian Rivero Old Man
Slim Talbot Clay Hodgins
Guy Teague Harper
Natividad Vacio Eusebio
Max "Alibi" Terhune Dr. Walker
Felipe Turich Gomez
Sheb Wooley Gabe Target
Tex Driscoll Clay Hodgins, Sr.
Richard Bishop
George Dunn Verne Decker
Juney Ellis Essie Lou Hodgins
Fernando Alvarado
Ray Bennett Dr. Borneholm
Eddie Baker Governor
Barbara Barrie Mary Lou Decker
Tom Monroe
Paul Kruger General
Steven Kay Jordan, Age 4
Charles Meredith Minister
Ella Ethridge General's Wife
John Garcia Angel as an Infant
Mark Hamilton Guard
Maxine Gates Mrs. Sarge
Bill Hale Bartender
Dimitri Tiomkin Conductor
Technical Credits
George Stevens Director, Producer
Philip W. Anderson Editor
Gordon Bau Makeup
Marjorie Best Costumes/Costume Designer
Fred Bohanan Editor
Henry Ginsberg Producer
Fred Guiol Screenwriter
William W. Hornbeck Editor
Ralph S. Hurst Production Designer, Set Decoration/Design
Boris Leven Production Designer
Moss Mabry Costumes/Costume Designer
William C. Mellor Cinematographer
Ivan Moffat Screenwriter
Dimitri Tiomkin Score Composer, Musical Direction/Supervision
Paul Webster Songwriter
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Scene Index

Side #1 -- Movie, Side A
1. Credits [2:08]
2. Beautiful Animal [2:39]
3. Quite a Parcel [3:07]
4. In the Moonlight [2:17]
5. Are You in Love? [1:17]
6. Heard About the Alamo? [5:02]
7. Honeymoon on a Train [3:29]
8. Welcome to Reata [2:04]
9. Mind of Her Own [2:50]
10. Jett Rink [2:42]
11. Texas Barbecue [7:06]
12. Not Just a Guest [1:32]
13. Day on the Range [3:05]
14. That Gal's My Wife [2:07]
15. Driving Miss Leslie [1:46]
16. Luz Rides Warwinds [2:19]
17. Them's Your Neighbors [9:44]
18. I'll Just Gamble Along [7:02]
19. Pacing His Land [1:20]
20. Men's Stuff [2:20]
21. Kick Off Your Spurs [4:50]
22. Twin Benedicts [4:02]
23. Helping Dr. Guerra [3:27]
24. Tea With Jett [1:24]
25. Uneasy Rider [7:17]
26. Better if Apart [3:54]
27. Thanksgiving [4:22]
28. Wedding and Reconciliation [3:30]
29. Gusher [4:01]
30. Too Rich to Kill [2:45]
Side #2 -- Movie, Side B
1. Warren Beatty [6:42]
2. Frank Capra [3:15]
3. Rouben Mamoulian [3:06]
4. Joseph L. Mankiewicz [4:17]
5. Alan J. Pakula [11:32]
6. Antonio Vellani [6:17]
7. Robert Wise [5:46]
8. Fred Zinnemann [4:39]
31. Jetexas [1:30]
32. Older Generation [9:38]
33. Overstepping Hombre [2:44]
34. Christmas at Reata [5:38]
35. Bick's Son the Doctor [2:05]
36. Big Stuff Is Old Stuff [4:44]
37. Jett Pays a Call [2:45]
38. Oil Tax Exemption [1:49]
39. Juana and Jordy [3:11]
40. Angel Obregon Comes Home [4:59]
41. Going to the Coronation [2:23]
42. Queen of the Jett Rink Day [2:39]
43. Jett and Luz: A Proposal [6:11]
44. Gathering Clan [1:59]
45. We Reserve the Right [4:01]
46. Jordy Confronts Jett [5:46]
47. Not Worth Hittin' [1:50]
48. Legend in His Time [2:08]
49. Ways of Doin' Things [5:15]
50. Jett's Speech [4:33]
51. No More High Flyin' [3:12]
52. Bick Takes a Stand [4:11]
53. You Can't Live Their Lives [3:26]
54. Real Big Success [2:37]
55. End Title (The Eyes of Texas) [:24]
56. Exit Music [2:48]
Side #3 -- Special Features
1. Recalling George Stevens [4:32]
2. Casting the Leads [3:58]
3. Train to Marfa [2:17]
4. First-Day Hangover [1:21]
5. Elizabeth Taylor [2:07]
6. Rock Hudson [4:34]
7. James Dean [8:33]
8. Carroll Baker [:56]
9. Earl Holliman [2:47]
10. George Stevens Jr. [:51]
11. Marfa Nightlife [7:43]
12. Country Club Sundays [1:13]
13. Taking Care of Dean [4:20]
14. Dean's Death [3:06]
15. Pink Keepsake [1:25]
16. A Film to Last [1:46]
1. Eyes on Marfa [4:20]
2. Casting [5:25]
3. The Landscape [4:33]
4. More Than Watchers [5:09]
5. Rope Tricks [4:48]
6. Hudson and Taylor [6:25]
7. Striking Oil [3:33]
8. Recreation [2:10]
9. Filming Over [3:34]
10. Tragedy [3:17]
11. As We See Ourselves [4:44]
12. Proud Legacy [5:14]
13. End Credits [1:51]
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Menu

Side #1 -- Movie, Side A
   Introduction by George Stevens Jr.
   Play Movie
   Special Features
      Commentary by Film Critics Stephen Farber, Screenwriter Ivan Moffat and George Stevens Jr.
   Scene Selections
   Languages
      Spoken Languages: English
      Spoken Languages: Français
      Subtitles
         English
         Français
         Español
         Subtitles: Off
Side #2 -- Movie, Side B
   Play Movie
   Special Features
      Commentary by Film Critics Stephen Farber, Screenwriter Ivan Moffat and George Stevens Jr.
      George Stevens: Filmmakers Who Knew Him
         Chapter Index
         Start
   Scene Selections
   Languages
      Spoken Languages: English
      Spoken Languages: Français
      Subtitles: English
      Subtitles: Français
      Subtitles: Español
      Subtitles: Off
Side #3 -- Special Features
   Memories of Giant
      Chapter Index
   Return to Giant
      Chapter Index
   New York Premiere Telecast
   Hollywood Premiere
   Giant Stars Are Off to Texas
   Stills
   Documents
   Behind-the-Cameras: On Location in Marfa, Texas
   Behind-the-Cameras: A Visit With Dmitri Tiomkin
   Trailers
      1956 "Book" Trailer
      Original 1956 Trailer
      1963 Reissue Trailer
      1970 Reissue Trailer
   A Giant Undertaking
      The Giant Behind "Giant"
      The Wrath of Texas...
      Casting
      Finding Reata
      In Good Hands
      Marfa, Texas
   George Stevens Filmography
   Awards
   Cast & Crew
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 11 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2012

    Elizabeth Taylor is really wonderful in this. Before seeing Gian

    Elizabeth Taylor is really wonderful in this. Before seeing Giant, I'd thought of her as some addicted-to-the-spotlight glamour girl, but this movie instantly changed my mind. She is very impressive in this. Giant is a little slow at times, to tell you the truth, but very much worth watching.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great Movie

    My wife loves this movie and can watch it over and over!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A Grand Tribute To The State of Texas

    Giant was a genuine blockbuster when it first hit the big screen. Fans were lined up outside the theatre for hours waiting to get in. It didnt disappoint. The color, the soundtrack, the bigger than life characters of the story all made for an outstanding motion picture experience. I discover something new each time I view it and, because I was an usher at the local theatre where it played for several weeks, I have seen it many times.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    Elizabeth Taylor's best movie

    I loved this movie. I remember seeing it when I was much younger. I also love Texas. I recommend this movie if you are a Elizabeth Taylor fan or a James Dean fan. Elizabeth Taylor is absolutely beautiful in this movie. And I didn't realize that Dennis Hopper played their son.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    The Essence of An Epic

    This is the essence of an epic because it has every theme in the human condition. I will not go through the list of all the things in the human condition because we are all part, but this is it. It's got love, despair, hope, charity, evil, filial responsiblilty, racism, poverty, relations between the sexes, honor, duty to country, etc. The performance of James Dean is weary and eerily close to Howard Hughes. You know his own mortality is not too far away. A true American classic among few.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A Magnificent American Tapestry

    GIANT represents the apogee of George Stevens' directorial career. The film has elicited diverse responses from both audiences and critics. Adapted from Edna Ferber's novel about a Texas cattle baron family, this lengthy generational saga is deliberately paced, magnificently photographed and superbly acted. If GIANT seems rusty and outmoded to modern audiences that may be due to the dearth of classical-style filmmaking in the 21st Century. Stevens' use of overlapping scene montages to make a story point and his quiet build-up to dramatic sequences is almost unheard of in this day and age. Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean and Mercedes McCambridge gave unforgettable performances and the large supporting cast was superb. GIANT joins A PLACE IN THE SUN and SHANE as one of the great American films.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Oh the yellow rose of Texas

    I love this movie. Its about overcoming prejudice, after many years of being so. James Dean is wonderful, and so are Elizabeth Talor, Rock Hudson, Dennis Hopper, and everyone else. Watch this.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Awesome

    Giant is an increadible epic that spans over three generations. Rock Hudson and Elizibeth Taylor's onscreen chemistry is remarkable, and they both deliever outstanding performances. Then you have James Dean, in his last performance before his tragic death. A performance that is without a doubt his best and at most times overshadows that of the veteren Rock Hudson. This Epic is a masterpiece of cinema, and a film that you will watch over and over again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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