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GIANT (1956)

Oscar-winner George Stevens directed this extravagant epic chronicling the saga of Texas cattleman Bick Benedict (Rock Hudson), who travels to Maryland in the early 1920s, falls in love with and marries the aristocratic socialite Leslie Lynnton (Elizabeth Taylor) and brings her back to his ranch -- launching a family saga that spans the generations. James Dean (in his last film role) co-stars as the sullen, arriviste Jett Rink -- the wellspring of Bick's many worries.

The stellar cast includes: Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, Dennis Hopper, Sal Mineo, Rod Taylor, Earl Holliman, Chill Wills, and Mercedes McCambridge.

#82 on the AFI Top 100.

GIANT was nominated for the Best Picture award.

Director, George Stevens, gives Edna Ferber's novel the epic treatment. Stevens received the Oscar for directing this film.

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Promotional Line: "The legendary epic that's as big as Texas."

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The basic story is the epic tale of the lives and loves of two generations of Texans . As the characters grow older, find love, lose love, and raise families, we learn much about them, as well as the state of Texas itself. Some people actually prefer this film to "Gone With The Wind", although this is a decidedly minority opinion.

The story begins with a trip to by a Texas rancher, Jordan 'Bick' Benedict (Rock Hudson) to Maryland to look at and buy a horse. He falls in love with the daughter of the horse's owner, Miss Leslie (Elizabeth Taylor), whom he marries and brings back to his Texas ranch. Not everyone back at the ranch is glad to see her, and a rivalry between them and cowboy / oil tycoon Jett Rink (James Dean), develops and unfolds over two generations between the families.

The film is a classic because of the great acting, (particularly Hudson, Taylor, and Dean), an involving story, terrific direction and the eye-filling cinematography of the broad Texas vistas.

* * *

Based on Edna Ferber's novel, this screenplay was written by the talented Fred Guiol and Ivan Moffat, and was nominated for an Oscar.

Director George Stevens did his usual great, meticulous job putting this film together and directing the marvelous cast, and won the Oscar for Best Director.

Leslie :"Money isn't everything, Jett". Jett: "Not when you've got it."

My favorite scene takes place, following Dean's discovery of oil. Covered in the "black gold," Dean shows up at Hudson and Taylor's ranch, picking a fight with Hudson. Newly rich, and full of confidence and rebellion, Dean's character finally thinks he's on the same level as the rich Hudson.

I really like the way the recent history of Texas is told through the story of the lives of some intertwined Texans. It's a big state, and "Giant", with its sweeping story, larger than life characters, and over three hour running time is a movie as big as the great state itself.

"Giant" was the last film Dean made prior to his death, at age 24, in an auto accident. It was released, to much acclaim, following his passing.

This film is rated G, and is great for family viewing.

If you enjoyed GIANT, you may like GONE WITH THE WIND, CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, and REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE.