Friday, April 6, 2012
Giant (Two-Disc Special Edition)
#82 on the 1998 AFI 100 Best American Movies List.
Giant is a 1956 American drama film, directed by George Stevens from a screenplay adapted by Fred Guiol and Ivan Moffat from the novel by Edna Ferber. The film stars Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean and features Carroll Baker, Jane Withers, Chill Wills, Mercedes McCambridge, Dennis Hopper, Sal Mineo, Rod Taylor. Elsa Cardenas and Earl Holliman. Giant was the last of James Dean's three films as a leading actor, and earned him his second and last Academy Award nomination – he was killed in a car accident before the film was released. Nick Adams was called in to do some voice-over dubbing for Dean's role.
In 2005, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
* Elizabeth Taylor as Leslie Benedict
* Rock Hudson as Jordan "Bick" Benedict Jr.
* James Dean as Jett Rink
* Carroll Baker as Luz Benedict II
* Jane Withers as Vashti Snythe
* Ray Whitley as Jett's Manager
* Chill Wills as Uncle Bawley
* Mercedes McCambridge as Luz Benedict
* Dennis Hopper as Jordan Benedict III
* Sal Mineo as Angel Obregon II
* Rod Taylor as Sir David Karfrey
* Earl Holliman as "Bob" Dace
* Paul Fix as Dr. Horace Lynnton
* Judith Evelyn as Mrs. Nancy Lynnton
* Carolyn Craig as Lacey Lynnton
* Fran Bennett as Judy Benedict
* Elsa Cárdenas as Juana Guerra Benedict
* Nick Adams as Jett Rink - Giving Banquet Speech (voice)
* Dan White (uncredited) as Truck Driver in Diner
* Monte Hale as Bale Clinch
* Max Terhune as Dr. Walker
* Alexander Scourby as Old Polo
The first part of the picture was shot in Albemarle County, Virginia, doubling for Maryland, and utilizing the Belmont estate near the Keswick railroad station, which depicted the "Ardmore, Maryland" railway depot. The film begins with Jordan "Bick" Benedict, played by Hudson, arriving at Ardmore to purchase a stallion from the Lynnton family.
Much of the subsequent film, depicting "Reata", the Benedict ranch, was shot in and around the town of Marfa, Texas, and the remote, dry plains found nearby, with interiors filmed at the Warner Brothers studios in Burbank, California. The "Jett Rink Day" parade and airport festivities were filmed at the nearby Burbank Airport.
The fictional character Jett Rink was inspired partly by the extraordinary rags-to-riches life of the wildcatter oil tycoon Glenn Herbert McCarthy (1907–1988). Author Edna Ferber met McCarthy when she booked a room at his Shamrock Hotel (known as the Shamrock Hilton after 1955) in Houston, Texas, on which the fictional Emperador Hotel was based in the book and the film.
The film was premiered in New York City in November 1956 with the local DuMont station televising the arrival of cast and crew, as well as other celebrities and studio chief Jack Warner. Warner Brothers has included the vintage kinescope of the premiere festivities in New York, as well as interviews with cast members, in their special 50th anniversary DVD set.
Capitol Records, which had issued some of Dimitri Tiomkin's music from the soundtrack (with the composer conducting the Warner Brothers studio orchestra) on an LP, later digitally remastered the tracks and issued them on CD, including two tracks conducted by Ray Heindorf. Both versions used a monaural blend of the multi-channel soundtrack recording. There's a prevailing view expressed by some critics that Tiomkin reworked or "cannibalized" much of the Giant music for the soundtrack of John Wayne's movie The Alamo seven years later.
Director George Stevens wanted to cast fading star Alan Ladd as Jett Rink, but his wife advised against it. The role went to James Dean. William Holden was a leading candidate for the role of Bick Benedict before Rock Hudson was eventually signed. Stevens gave Hudson a choice between Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly to play his leading lady, Leslie. Hudson chose Taylor.
Giant was Barbara Barrie's first film. Carroll Baker, who plays Elizabeth Taylor's daughter, was older in real life than her screen mother.
After James Dean's death late in production, Nick Adams overdubbed some of Dean's lines, which were nearly inaudible, as Rink's voice. The film spent an entire year in the editing room; Stevens was notorious for overrunning budgets because of his insistence on shooting a scene from every possible angle to allow maximum choice for editing.
It was the highest grossing film in Warner Bros. history until the release of Superman
Australian actor Rod Taylor was cast after being seen in an episode of Studio 57, The Black Sheep's Daughter. It was one of his first Hollywood roles.
Giant won the Academy Award for Best Director and was nominated nine other times, twice for Best Actor in a Leading Role (James Dean and Rock Hudson). The other nominations came in the categories of Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Mercedes McCambridge); Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color (Boris Leven, Ralph S. Hurst); Best Costume Design, Color; Best Film Editing; Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture; Best Picture; and Best Writing, Best Screenplay - Adapted.