Giant

1956, Movie, NR, 201 mins

Review

GIANT
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Like the title says. Based on Edna Ferber's sprawling novel, GIANT covers two generations of Texas rivalry, spear-headed by Hudson, in his best performance, and Dean, in a performance that defies description. Hudson marries Virginia belle Taylor and transplants her to Texas, where she must learn to adapt herself to the harsher culture of her husband's huge cattle empire. Dean is an outcast who strikes oil and whose financial empire grows to rival Hudson's, even as he nurses a lifelong broken heart over Taylor.

This was the last role in Dean's all-too-brief career--he was dead when the film was released--and his presence ran away with the film. He performs his role in the overwrought method manner of the era, and the rest of the cast seems to be split between awe of his talent and disgust over his indulgence. He's a strange spectacle indeed as he ages, like a Howard Hughes burlesque that doesn't quite come off. Still he works well early on opposite Taylor, as does Hudson, who more or less leads the rest of the cast in the conventional style of presentational acting. GIANT confirms Taylor's skills as an actress; she's entirely believable even when she ages by just having her hair greyed.

Director Stevens encouraged a feeling for animosity between Dean and Hudson and irritated Taylor with his endless retakes and chatter about how he wished original choice Grace Kelly had been available; this made for lively filming. The result strains for prestige but considering its length moves along at a considerable clip, due to Ferber's narrative prowess more than anything else. leave a comment

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