Giant (film): Wikis

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Giant

Movie poster by Bill Gold
Directed by George Stevens
Produced by George Stevens
Written by Edna Ferber (novel)
Fred Guiol
Ivan Moffat
Starring Elizabeth Taylor
Rock Hudson
James Dean
Mercedes McCambridge
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
Cinematography William C. Mellor
Editing by William Hornbeck
Phil Anderson-assoc.
Fred Bohanan-assoc.
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) November 24, 1956
September 20, 1996 (re-release)
Running time 201 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $5.4 million
Gross revenue $35 million

Giant is a 1956 American drama film directed by George Stevens from a screenplay adapted by Fred Guiol and Ivan Moffat from the novel by Edna Ferber. The movie stars Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean and features Carroll Baker, Jane Withers, Chill Wills, Mercedes McCambridge, Dennis Hopper, Sal Mineo, Rod Taylor and Earl Holliman. Giant was the last of James Dean's three films as a leading actor, and earned him his second and last Academy Award nomination – he was killed in a car accident before the film was released. Nick Adams was called in to do some voice-over dubbing for Dean's role.

In 2005, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Contents

Plot

Bick Benedict (Rock Hudson), the head of the rich Benedict ranching family of Texas, goes to Maryland to buy a stud horse, My Mistake. There he meets and courts the socialite Leslie (Elizabeth Taylor), who becomes his wife. They return to Texas to start their life together on the family ranch, Reata. Luz (Mercedes McCambridge), Bick's sister, and Leslie don't get along. Jett Rink (James Dean) the family handyman, is envious of the Benedict wealth and flirts with Leslie.

Luz dies after My Mistake bucks her off, and as part of her will, Jett is given a plot of land within the Benedict ranch. Bick tries to buy back the land, but Jett refuses. Jett keeps the fenced off waterhole as his home and names the property Little Reata. Leslie eventually gives birth to twins, Jordan Benedict III (Dennis Hopper), or Jordy, and Judy Benedict (Fran Bennett), and a younger daughter named Luz Jr (Carroll Baker).

Jett discovers oil on his property, and when he gets his first gusher, he barges onto the Benedicts' property proclaiming in front of the entire family that he will be richer than the Benedicts. Bick and Jett have a fistfight and Jett runs off. In the years before World War II, Jett starts an oil drilling company that makes him enormously wealthy. Bick resists the lure of oil wealth, preferring to remain a rancher.

In the postwar years, tensions in the Benedict household revolve around how the parents want to bring up their children. Bick stubbornly insists that Jordy must succeed him and run the ranch, but Jordy wants to become a doctor. Leslie wants Judy to attend finishing school in Switzerland, but Judy loves the ranch and wants to stay in Texas for her education. After war breaks out, Jett visits the Benedicts and tries to convinces Bick to allow oil production to help the war effort. Bick realises that there is nobody to take over the ranch after him, and concedes. During this visit, Luz Jr, now a teen-aged girl, and Jett start flirting. Once oil production starts, the wealthy Benedict family becomes even wealthier.

The Benedict/Rink rivalry comes to a head when the Benedicts find Luz Jr. and Jett Rink have been dating. At a huge gala Jett organizes in his own honor, Jordy tries to fight him, after realizing he and his Mexican American wife, Juana (Elsa Cárdenas), were invited just so Jett's employees could turn Juana away. Bick then takes Jett to a kitchen room, about to fight him, but realizes that Jett is a drunken shell of a man, who only has money. He tells him, "You're not even worth hitting...You're all through," and leaves. The party ends when Jett, completely drunk, slumps down in front of everyone before his big speech. Luz Jr. sees him afterwards, once everyone has left the ballroom, and discovers that he is a lonely, pathetic wreck.

The movie portrays how the oil industry transformed the Texas ranchers into the super rich of their generation.

A major sub-plot of the movie is the racism against Mexican Americans in Texas. When the movie starts, Bick and Luz are racist towards the Mexicans who work on their ranch, which upsets Leslie. By the end of the movie, though, Bick realizes the wrongs of racism and defends his daughter-in-law and grandson, Juana and Jordan Benedict IV, respectively and earns Leslie's respect.

Cast

Production

Cast members and crew at work on the set. The Victorian home Boris Leven designed became an iconic image for the film.

The first part of the picture was shot in Albemarle County, Virginia, doubling for Maryland, and utilizing the Belmont estate near the Keswick railroad station, which depicted the "Ardmore, Maryland" railway depot. The film begins with Jordan "Bick" Benedict, played by Hudson, arriving at Ardmore to purchase a stallion from the Lynnton family.

Much of the subsequent film, depicting "Reata," the Benedict ranch, was shot in and around the town of Marfa, Texas, and the remote, dry plains found nearby, with interiors filmed at the Warner Brothers studios in Burbank, California. The "Jett Rink Day" parade and airport festivities were filmed at the nearby Burbank Airport.

The fictional character Jett Rink was based in part on oil tycoon Glenn Herbert McCarthy (1907-1988). Author Edna Ferber met with McCarthy when she booked a room at the Shamrock Hotel, on which the novel and film were based. In the film, the fictional Emperador Hotel was based on the former Shamrock Hotel (known as the Shamrock Hilton after 1955) in Houston, Texas.

The film was premiered in New York City in November 1956 with the local DuMont station televising the arrival of cast and crew, as well as other celebrities and studio chief Jack Warner. Warner Brothers has included the vintage kinescope of the premiere festivities in New York, as well as interviews with cast members, in their special 50th anniversary DVD set.

Capitol Records, which had issued some of Dimitri Tiomkin's music from the soundtrack (with the composer conducting the Warner Brothers studio orchestra) on an LP, later digitally remastered the tracks and issued them on CD, including two tracks conducted by Ray Heindorf.

Director George Stevens wanted to cast fading star Alan Ladd as Jett Rink, but his wife advised against it. The role went to James Dean. William Holden was a leading candidate for the role of Bick Benedict before Rock Hudson was eventually signed. Stevens gave Hudson a choice between Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly to play his leading lady, Leslie. Hudson chose Taylor.

Giant was Barbara Barrie's first film. Carroll Baker, who plays Elizabeth Taylor's daughter, was older in real life than her screen mother.

After James Dean's death late in production, Nick Adams provided Rink's voice for a few lines. The film spent an entire year in the editing room.

It was the highest grossing film in Warner Bros. history until the release of Superman.

Awards and honors

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Academy Awards

Giant won the Academy Award for Directing and was nominated nine other times, twice for Best Actor in a Leading Role (James Dean and Rock Hudson). The other nominations came in the categories of Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Mercedes McCambridge); Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color (Boris Leven, Ralph S. Hurst); Best Costume Design, Color; Best Film Editing; Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture; Best Picture; and Best Writing, Best Screenplay - Adapted.[1]

Other Honors

American Film Institute recognition

Notes

External links


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