Giant (George Stevens, 1956) wr. Fred Guiol, Ivan Moffat (novel Edna Ferber); Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, Chill Wills, Rod Taylor, Sal Mineo, Dennis Hopper

I don't think I saw this when I was a kid. I had a go last night, but after an hour and a half of putting up with its excesses, I decided to go to bed, and only then discovered I wasn't even halfway through. Stevens got on very well with his scriptwriters. All agreed that if something was saying or showing once, it was worth saying or showing at least once more. As I didn't see it all, I'll hand over this page to Bosley Crowther, who was there in 1956 for the New York Times. I'm pretty sure he thought it was crap, but there's an advertisement for the film on the same page that's even larger than his article, so he had to be careful how he went about putting it down. Here are a few sentences.

Apparently the subject of Texas is so large and provocative that no one can get going on it without taking a large amount of time. Producer-director George Stevens demonstrates the point. In his much-touted color film version of Edna Ferber's big Texas novel, Giant, which opened last night ... he takes three hours and seventeen minutes to put his story across. That's a heap of time to go on about Texas ... Perhaps because Mr. Stevens has attempted to include in his film the full content of Miss Ferber's story and then a good bit more, it does have a way of becoming a trifle rambling and overwrought at times. Dramatic emphasis changes from one to another theme. At the start, we have the story of the sudden and incongruous love of a well-bred Virginia beauty and the rawboned Texan who owns the great Reata ranch. Then we have a conflict between the beauty and the razor-backed sister of her spouse when she weds him and moves to Texas and to a gaunt Victorian house on the empty range. In order, there follow a passionate rivalry between the owner of Reata and a surly hand who later becomes the most vulgar of the new crop of oil millionaires; an interlocking contemplation of Jim Crow treatment of local Mexicans, and finally a set of climaxes in which each theme is more or less resolved.

References and Links

Bosley Crowther 1956, 'Screen: Large Subject', New York Times, 11 October.

Garry Gillard | reviews | New: 29 September, 2017 | Now: 29 September, 2019