GIANT stars Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor as Jordan and Leslie Benedict in an epic story about one family's journey to power and respectability. Jordan Benedict is a Texan rancher who travels east searching for horses to ride and cattle to breed. He makes a stop at the Lynnton estate. While there he meets Leslie Lynnton. At first he is amused by her charm and she is infatuated by his good looks and wealth. Soon his amusement grows into love and he asks Leslie to marry him. After a brief honeymoon, the couple returns to Jordan's dilapidating Texan family ranch. Leslie is an outcast at first, but she slowly begins incorporating herself into the society in which she has moved teaching kindness and compassion to her lunkhead of a husband along the way. The movie follows their relationship and the growth of their family through about 30 years of marriage.
GIANT is a visually spectacular movie. Though the film's scenery isn't it's best feature, it adds a lot to the film's substance. The acting is very well done, especially by Taylor and James Dean. GIANT is probably best known as Dean's last movie (he was killed before the picture was even released). Dean plays Jet Fink, the lead secondary character in the picture--a man fighting against the world to make a name for himself and always playing second fiddle to Jordan Benedict. Rock Hudson does a decent job of acting in the film, but he is upstaged every time that James Dean appears in a scene. The real-life animosity that Hudson felt towards Dean adds a great deal of texture to their performances and makes the rough relationship between Jordan Benedict and Jet Fink even that much more realistic. Taylor holds her ground with Dean perfectly capturing the sexual tension between the two. Besides those three, there really aren't any other standout performances.
Unlike many epic movies that focus on nations, empires, or dynasties (both literally and metaphorically), GIANT chooses to tell the tale of the generation of one family, and specifically one couple. It's more a film about love and family than it is about cattle, oil, big business, or money. That's really nice to see for a change. After all, even though most of us probably aren't as materially blessed as the Benedicts, we all live epic stories.
Pros: Big Cons: The James Dean hype The Bottom Line: I hate the bottom line I'm officially taking James Dean down from his pedastal now. There's a point where actor worship goes too far, and movie buffs everywhere have long passed it in Dean's case. Dean made three movies in his lifetime - a good movie (East of Eden) an excellent movie (Rebel Without a Cause) and a Saturday Matinee throwaway (Giant). Then he slammed his car … more
They call itGiantbecause everything in this picture is big, from the generous running time (more than 200 minutes) to the sprawling ranch location (a horizon-to-horizon plain with a lonely, modest mansion dropped in the middle) to the high-powered stars. Stocky Rock Hudson stars as the confident, stubborn young ranch baron Bick Benedict, who woos and wins the hand of Southern belle Elizabeth Taylor, a seemingly demure young beauty who proves to be Hudson's match after she settles into the family homestead. For many the film is chiefly remembered for James Dean's final performance, as poor former ranch hand Jett Rink, who strikes oil and transforms himself into a flamboyant millionaire playboy. Director George Stevens won his second Oscar for this ambitious, grandly realized (if sometimes slow moving) epic of the changing socioeconomic (and physical) landscape of modern Texas, based on Edna Ferber's bestselling novel. The talented supporting cast includes Mercedes McCambridge as Bick's frustrated sister, put out by the new "woman of the house"; Chill Wills as the Benedicts' garrulous rancher neighbor; Carroll Baker and Dennis Hopper as the Benedicts' rebellious children; and Earl Holliman and Sal Mineo as dedicated ranch hands.--Sean Axmaker