1956. Warner Brothers, Warner Home Video, Color, Aspect Ratio 1.66 : 1, 201 minutes, Not Rated
Release Date: November 24, 1956
Giant is available at Amazon.com as a 2-Disc DVD Special Edition, as part of the 3-DVD Complete James Dean Collection, and in widescreen VHS.
Movie Synopsis: A sprawling family saga telling the story of a Texas cattle rancher Bick Benedict and his family, and the rivalry with cowboy (and later oil tycoon) Jett Rink that unfolds across two generations.
Cast: Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, Carroll Baker, Jane Withers, Chill Wills, Mercedes McCambridge, Sheb Wooley, Sal Mineo, Dennis Hopper, Rod Taylor, Earl Holliman, Paul Fix
Director: George Stevens
Thoughts on the Movie:
This epic drama is legendary for a number of reasons, among them the fact that this was the last time James Dean would be seen on the silver screen. But it goes far beyond that. The Edna Ferber novel does for Texas what Gone with the Wind did for the old South: it gives everyone a chance to get up close and personal with one of most colorful and unique regions of the United States. If you dont know much about Texas, watch Giant, then youll know. Whether or not you like what you see, at least youll know about Texas, for this film depicts it in an honest and straightforward fashion that weathers the test of time.
Then you also have the whole Reata myth and legend, which still calls people from all over the world to come see what little is left of the famous studio-built facade of the Benedict mansion in the middle of nowhere. But, dont be mislead by the hundreds of miles of the seemingly empty flat landscape around Marfa, Texas. It is definitely somewhere. ~Jean
Marfa, Texas (see Map)
The Reata mansion/ranch house facade was built outside Marfa on a nearby ranch. Hardly anything remains of it, but a partial frame now in ruins. Filming was done throughout the open land surrounding Marfa, and northwest 35 miles to the town of Valentine, Texas, on US 90.
Left: All that is left of Reata, the studio-built facade that depicted the Texas mansion of the Benedict family in the classic film, "Giant." People come the world over just to stand near its ruins.
To see the Reata house location and the Hispanic village in Valentine, take US 90 west, heading towards Valentine. The Reata ruins will be on your left-hand side. Reata has remained virtually untouched since 1955; bits of wood and plaster, held together with rusty nails, still surround the base of its towering frame.
Right: Whats left of the Little Reata ruins. This was the piece of property that was willed to Jett Rink, the character played by James Dean in "Giant."
Little Reata: Theres even less left of this Giant landmark near Marfa, but it is easier to find. Take US 90 west for a few miles, heading towards Valentine. Scan the barren landscape and look for the familiar windmill; it will be on your right-hand side. The two poles that held the original Little Reata sign in place still stand. Jett Rinks famous windmill, which is also intact, is about 20 yards behind that. You can get a pretty good look at these ruins from the road.
Like Reata, the ruins of Little Reata are on private property; a barbed wire fence separates them from the road. Carry on to Valentine to see the Hispanic village.
About Marfa, Texas:
Marfa, Texas (population 2,121; elevation 4,685 feet; 30° 18 43 N, 104° 1 29 W) is located in the southwest section of the state at the junction of TX 17 and US 67/90, about 10 miles from the Mexican border. The town is in the Chihuahuan Desert, a notably underdeveloped region of about 140,000 square miles. There is less than one person per square mile in the area.
Right: The big sky clouds over the main street of Marfa, Texas.
Established in 1881, as a water stop of the Texas and New Orleans Railroad, it is now a trading point for the ranches in the surrounding mountains. The Marfa Mystery Lights were first reported by early settlers in 1883, and they still defy explanation. The prime viewing area for the lights is 9 miles east of town on US 90 (a historical marker at that location provides details).
Alpine (population 6,460; elevation 4,475 feet; 30° 21 39 N, 103° 39 56 W) is 26 miles east of Marfa on US 67/90. There, you will find the following:
Apache Trading Post
West of town, in the foothills of the Twin Peaks Mountains at 2701 US 90, Alpine, Texas. Open 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Sunday. Features West Texas handcrafts, gemstone jewelry, rocks and minerals, and books on the Marfa Mystery Lights. It houses the largest selection of topographic maps and three-dimensional relief maps highlighting the mountains of West Texas.
Woodward Agate Ranch
18 miles south of town on TX 118. Open year-round 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Thursday-Sunday; open daily during Spring Break. You can hunt and collect famed Texas agates (red plume, pom-pom), plus jasper, feldspar, calcite, opal, and other minerals on 3,000 acres. Cabins, camping and RV sites are available at the ranch.
Lodging & Dining:
El Pisano Hotel. In Marfa, at N. Highland and W. Texas Streets. A 1928 Spanish Colonial-style building on the national Historic Register. The hotel served as the base of operations for the cast of Giant during location filming in the area.
Location filming took place for two months outside of Marfa, Texas.
Right: The barbecue party scene from "Giant," with Reata looming in the distant background. What a sight! Stars of the film, Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and Mercedes McCambridge, can be seen center front greeting a party guest.
George Stevens won the Oscar for Best Director.
Rock Hudson was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor.
James Dean was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor.
Mercedes McCambridge was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
Fred Guiol and Ivan Moffat were nominated for an Oscar for Best Screenplay Adaptation.
Dimitri Tiomkin was nominated for an Oscar for Best Score.
Giant was nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture.
This was James Deans last film and was released after his death.
Late in production, after James Deans death, Nick Adams provided Rinks voice for a few lines.
Audrey Hepburn was one of first choices for the part later played by Elizabeth Taylor, while John Wayne was considered for the Rock Hudson part. William Holden, Forrest Tucker and Sterling Hayden were also considered for the lead role of Bick Benedict.
The film was based on Edna Ferbers successful novel of the same name.
The stage play (and subsequent movie), Come Back to the Five-and-Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, was based on the legend of the filming of Giant and was also set in Marfa. One of the female characters in the play had been claiming for years that her illegitimate son was the outcome of her brief affair with James Dean while he was on location in Marfa. The movie cast Cher in one of her first acting roles.
Character Quote: Come on, darling. Why dont you kick off your spurs? ~Leslie Benedict (Elizabeth Taylor)