Edna Ferber specialised in writing sprawling family sagas, several of them set in the West. Her 1930 novel Cimarron was twice filmed by Hollywood, as was the 1926 film Show Boat, set in the Deep South.
In Giant, written in 1950, Bick Benedict (Rock Hudson) is a Texas cattle baron who marries a spirited Maryland belle, Leslie (Elizabeth Taylor). Bick’s sister has left some of the property to Jett Rink (James Dean), a former employee.
Rink discovers oil and becomes immensely rich, but his personal life is a disappointment (he carries a torch for Leslie) and he declines into alcoholism.
As Bick and Leslie grow older, they are concerned with who will run the ranch after they’ve gone. Their daughter (Carroll Baker) wants to take over, but Leslie doesn’t approve. To Bick’s disappointment, their son has married a Latina woman and become a doctor.
Eventually, Bick and Leslie come to terms with life.
At well over three hours, Giant certainly lives up to its title. But the performances are outstanding, not least James Dean’s, who was tragically killed in a car crash shortly after completing his part, and before the film was released.
Director George Stevens does justice to the immensity of the Texas landscape, and unusually for the time, the film deals interestingly with both racial and class differences.
Luz Benedict II
Jordan Benedict III
Angel Obregon III
Mrs Horace Lynnton
Dr Horace Lynnton
Sir David Karfrey