Texan rancher Bick Benedict visits a Maryland farm to buy a prize horse. Whilst there he meets and falls in love with the owner's daughter Leslie, they are married immediately and return to his ranch. The story of their family and its rivalry with cowboy and (later oil tycoon) Jett Rink unfolds across two generations. Written by
Col Needham <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Dean's best performance... too bad the movie doesn't match up.
GIANT is the tale of a man named Jordan "Bick" Benedict (Rock Hudson), who visits Maryland one day to look at a horse to bring back to his ranch in Texas. There he ends up meeting his future wife Leslie (Elizabeth Taylor), and brings her back to his homeland. At first she has a hard time fitting in and seeing the ways of Texas--instead of going along with being arrogant, selfish, and old-fashioned, she tries to help the sick Hispanic servants on the Benedict land. Leslie and Bick are both set in their ways--Bick just goes along with believing that these "wetbacks" are no good, while Leslie believes that they're people too and deserve that right. Also caught up in this mix is Jett Rink (James Dean), who works for Bick but is disliked by him. Jett becomes infatuated with Leslie from the beginning, but is considered only a friend by her and must accept that.
After Jett is given a piece of land through a will, he strikes black gold on it one day and becomes a high-profile billionaire. Meanwhile, Leslie and Bick recover from a brief separation and raise their three kids. Bick is upset because his son (Dennis Hopper) does not want to inherit the Benedict land and continue in that tradition, and Leslie is upset because her daughter Luz (Carroll Baker) wants to attend Texas Tech, a "man's school." Leslie is conforming to the close-minded beliefs of the Texan people. However, when the Benedicts learn of Jett's plan to open a hotel nearby, they go to show him that the Benedicts are doing too badly for themselves either. The tension mounts, boils over, and ultimately comes to a thrilling conclusion.
GIANT, for me, is a mix of good and bad. Maybe I'm biased in that this is a James Dean movie, and I adore him, so maybe I make more allowances for this movie than I would if it didn't star him. Anyway, since I'm from New Mexico myself, I liked the scenery and atmosphere of the film and it gave it a nice familiar feeling for me. The acting is spectacular, as expected--James Dean is fabulous as always, delivering what I consider to be his best performance. Rock Hudson is also wonderful and Liz Taylor really impressed me as Leslie (I loved her character as well). The supporting cast is good as well and everyone seems to hold the film together. The whole subject of racism and sexism was pretty taboo at the time this movie came out--of course now it's much more talked about and less common in that right. I like that this movie was that adventurous and daring in its subject matter.
Now, the bad. This film is much too long. Many of the scenes seem entirely unnecessary altogether. Some of the actors don't do so well in parts, and much of the dialogue is inaudible. I had to turn the closed caption on, in fact! I'm not sure if this is the result of bad technology or just mumbling. The ending was pretty lame, and some scenes are so cheesy and fake that it almost makes me cringe. And most importantly, many parts are rather boring.
Maybe I am just biased, but GIANT is probably held on a higher pedestal than it would be solely because it stars James Dean. He does a great job as usual and the most memorable (and best) scene of the movie focuses on him. (The scene to which I refer is when Jett discovers the oil and runs to the Benedict house, covered in it, to gloat.) And though GIANT has its share of good points, it's not a terrifically great movie. Dean makes it happen. 7/10.
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