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Drama - US

Giant (1956)

Duration3h 21m
RatingsUK: A, USA: G, Denmark: 15
Source of storyA novel of the same name by Edna Ferber
DirectorGeorge Stevens
Writers/ScriptFred Guiol, Ivan Moffat
StarringElizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, Carroll Baker, Mercedes McCambridge, Dennis Hopper, Sal Mineo, Rod Taylor, Sheb Wooley,
RatingsIMDb: 7.6/10 by 40,065 people.  Rotten Tomatoes: 88% by 48 reviewers. Review2view: 5/10.

Summary: “Bick” Benedict is a Texas landowner who goes to Maryland on a horse buying expedition, and comes home with a wife, Leslie, a New England socialite. Leslie’s presence in the Benedict mansion is resented by Luz, Bick’s sister who has, up to now, run things. However she is killed in a fall from Leslie’s horse which she was maltreating, and in her will leaves a portion of the estate to Jett Rink, a sullen ranch hand who carries a torch for Leslie. Time passes. The Benedicts have children who grow up, no-one wishing to follow in Bick’s footsteps and Jett discovers oil on his patch and becomes rich. The Benedict children also grow up, two marrying and having children themselves, the son to a Mexican. Oil is also found on the Benedict ranch, and everyone becomes very rich.

Content: No sex or nudity. At one point Bick kisses Leslie in the bedroom, but has his feet on the floor. There is a lot of drinking and Jet is portrayed as a drunk. Also some smoking. The Benedicts spend a lot of time in the sumptuous interior of their mansion. There are themes. Leslie challenges the macho environment of the rich Texans. She also tries to improve conditions for the Mexican ranch workers. The Benedict son marries a Mexican girl which causes endless problems since Mexicans are banned from many environments. Jett drills for oil sort of, and there are various signs of his riches. Finally he has an airport. Quite a few gatherings.

A View: After all these years I have finally seen my first James Dean film. It made money and is well thought of even today. There are respectable themes but they are presented in a very heavy handed way. I am always a bit stuck if what is presented on screen seems to lack logic and in this case the original oil exploration looked very odd, since it did not involve a derrick, only a pump.  I have worked in the oil industry so it might be just me. And in the end I still wonder who the “Giant” is. I think the book would tell me. So really only a watch if you are interested in movie history, otherwise it could be a waste of your three and a half hours.

On this website I have reviewed three other Elizabeth Taylor films, all of them better than this one. They are Suddenly Last Summer, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Cleopatra. All three of them are essential viewing.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels


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