Giant (1956)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Americana, Modern Western  |   Release Date - Oct 10, 1956 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 201 min.  |   Countries - Sweden   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Even if it hadn't starred three of the most iconic screen figures of the 1950s, George Stevens's Giant would still be an emotionally powerful and visually striking film; adding Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, and James Dean (in his final performance) to the mix was just the icing on the cake. Dean contributes the highest-caliber fireworks, though his "Method" style sometimes blends uncomfortably with the more traditional performances of the other actors, but Stevens also drew atypically strong performances from Taylor and Hudson, who delivers perhaps his best performance on screen next to Seconds (1966). Based on Edna Ferber's novel, the story is a glorified soap opera, but Stevens's epic production strengthens the narrative rather than drowning it, providing a visual metaphor for the intimidating vastness of the Texas landscape. The image of the vast Benedict mansion slowly appearing as a tiny dot on the horizon is only the most memorable of the film's many indelible images. Giant is as big and sprawling as Texas itself; it's the tininess of the larger-than-life characters in the oilfields of the Southwest that keeps them human, and makes them all the more fascinating.