GIANT (1956) C widescreen 201m dir: George Stevens
w/Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, Carroll Baker, Jane Withers, Chill Wills, Mercedes McCambridge, Sal Mineo, Dennis Hopper, Judith Evelyn
From The Movie Guide: "Like the title says. Based on Edna Ferber's sprawling novel, GIANT covers two generations of Texas rivalry, spearheaded 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 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 grayed.
"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."
George Stevens was awarded the Best Director Oscar for the film, which was also nominated for Best Picture, Actor (both Hudson and Dean), Supporting Actress (McCambridge), Adapted Screenplay (Fred Guiol and Ivan Moffat), Color Costume Design, Color Art Direction, Editing, and Scoring of a Dramatic Picture.