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#82 - Giant

In 1956, Edna Ferber's novel was adapted for the big screen by George Stevens. Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor star as Bick and Leslie Benedict in the story of a Texas rancher family across decades. James Dean costars as brooding farmhand Jett Rink.

Giant is exactly the kind of movie I expected to see when we started this project. At 210 minutes, it is indeed giant, but it needs that long to tell the entire story. The plot is rich, engrossing and complex, full of character intricacies, conflict and adventure. Hudson and Taylor are superb in their roles, playing them with elegance and emotion. Taylor looks just as smashing as the young debutante than she does aged 30 years as the family matriarch.

This is the first time I've seen James Dean on film. I must say, I think I understand what all the fuss was about. His style of acting is completely different from Hudson and Taylor -- much more moody and laconic. He's obviously very talented -- truly a shame he died so soon after.

The movie itself is gorgeous. The production values are very high and the sweeping Texas landscapes effectively frame the huge story. The movie makers convincingly bring the characters through different periods of fashion and generations of family.

Most surprising, however, is the social themes that the movie deals with. It must have been shocking to an 1956 audience to see sensitivity to Hispanic immigrants portrayed, even as stereotyped as the characters appear. Add in the effects of oil on the Texan economy and social world and a variety of interfamilial conflicts and you have a movie with important things to say -- things that still sound fresh after 50 years.

I was very impressed by this movie. I didn't even know it existed before I watched it, and now it's one of my favorites of the project.

(See this post if you're confused why I'm reviewing movies.)


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 19, 2006 9:38 AM.

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