Academy Awards 1956 -
Best Director: George Stevens
Rolling Stone - 10/03/1996
"...Marvel at James Dean and the still-vibrant performances of Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor....A true epic..."
Los Angeles Times - 09/27/1996
"...It dazzles with late Golden Era star performances....A classic of its era..."
Chicago Sun-Times - 10/04/1996
"...Dean turns in a performance that shows what a gifted and influential actor we lost with his death..."
USA Today - 03/19/1999
"...With improved color, sound and a letterboxed image, the Texas blockbuster that won George Stevens Sr. the Oscar for direction looks better than it ever has in a home viewing format..."
Entertainment Weekly - 06/13/2003
"...[With] genuinely striking images of galloping horses, gushing oil, and drunken brawls in the liquor cellar..."
Total Film - 08/01/2003
"...[A] well-acted all-American epic..."
Edna Ferber's best-selling family saga was the source of Stevens' sprawling epic, which stars Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, and James Dean, in his last film appearance. When Texas cattleman Bick Benedict (Hudson) goes to Virginia in the early 1920s to buy a prize stallion, he falls in love with Leslie Lynnton (Taylor), an aristocratic, independent-minded beauty, and they quickly marry. He takes her back to Reata, his 600,000-acre ranch, where sister Luz (Mercedes McCambridge), the family matriarch, does her best to make Leslie feel unwelcome. Leslie is appalled by the second-class status accorded to women and racist attitudes toward the local Mexicans, neither of which seem to bother her husband. Out of compassion, she befriends surly ranch hand Jett Rink (James Dean), who comes to worship her from afar, envying Bick for both his wealth and his wife. He strikes oil on land bequeathed to him by the deceased Luz and his wealth and power grow apace. As the years pass, the bewildered Bick often finds his children thwarting his wishes and criticizing his beliefs, pushing the millionaire to question his values for the first time in his life. The film's outstanding cast, which also features Dennis Hopper, Sal Mineo, Carroll Baker, Earl Holliman, and Chill Wills, inject vitality into a project that occasionally suffers from longueurs.
An epic examination of the American dream, played out on the spacious, mythic Texas landscape. The story charts Texas's evolution from ranching state to oil capital. In addition, the film explores issues of race relations. A young cattle baron marries a well-bred Maryland beauty and transplants her to a rustic ranch. The new bride, Leslie Benedict, quickly learns about the divisions between the Americans and the Mexicans, between the privileged and the poor. Her husband retains these prejudices even when his son marries a Mexican-American nurse. Leslie also must contend with a ranchhand who loves her from afar, and who despises her husband's wealth. When the ranchhand strikes oil and also becomes rich, he still fails to win either Leslie or the town's respect.
Classic Fight Scenes |
Essential Cinema |
Family Interaction |
Love Triangle |
Personal Triumph |
The film was given a theatrical re-release in Fall of 1996 to celebrate its 40th anniversary.
For the re-release, "Giant" was newly enhanced with the modern- ized version of the original Technicolor dye process which incorporates the latest film manufacturing and processing technology available. The technical crew also worked with George Stevens, Jr., the director's son, to recreate a sound- track that equals, and in some cases exceeds, the fidelity of the original release.
The Warner Home Video VHS versions (Cat. #'s 14633, 36135, 14897) all come direct from the restored 1996 theatrical re-release. The videos also include one hour of rare related footage, featuring a 30-minute telecast of the New York premiere and a 5-minute featurette about the Hollywood premiere. In addition, there are 2 "Making of..." segments and a special introduction by George Stevens, Jr.
The Collector's Box Set VHS version (Cat. #36135) also includes an all-new 72-page, 4-color book featuring reminiscences with the stars, archival data, and photographs never before published. And finally, the set also contains the 1985 documentary "George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey," a 2-hour chronicle of George Stevens' life and career that is directed and narrated by George Stevens, Jr.
The Warner Home Video VHS version (Cat. #14897) contains in addition only the documentary, "George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey."
Star James Dean died in a car accident during production. His scenes were completed with a stand-in.
Film debut for actress Carroll Baker, who appeared in a bit part in the film "Easy to Love" in 1953.
Rated BBFC PG by the British Board of Film Censors.