George Stevens directs Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean in this epic drama following a cattle baron who loses his grip on his massive Texan spread once oil is discovered by a rival.
Academy award winning Giant is a biiiiig movie. Weighing in at over 3 hours. And it ain’t perfect. The middle act is baggy. We barely get used to who the stars are playing, what they are about, and then the march of time takes over. Liz, Rock and Jimmy seem sidelined by their ever changing children and fortunes. We only spend meaningful time with them while they argue, shriek at each other wearing very basic ageing make-up. Then then last hour seems like the final season of a long running soap (Dallas, Dynasty, etc) rolled into one night. Pathetic fallacy goes into overdrive. Topics like racism, sexism and manifest destiny are skirted over. Yet in its finest moments (the ones where Liz, Rock and / or Jimmy are the centre) it really seduces. This is a dark tragedy told with a technicolour sweep. Really classy, but also camp, overwrought. Mercedes McCambridge and Carroll Baker both put in compelling shorter shifts, the kind that would steal normal length movies. Dean is a strange presence for the duration, but not an unwelcome one. Mannered but not as mumbly as you might expect. The punch ups that close this are stretched and histrionic. You really do feel like a violent judgment on American capitalism has been made, one that has painstakingly evidenced all the years and pigheadedness that got us to this crisis point. Giant is unwieldy, sometimes slightly weird for something so straight, and I adored swathes of it.
Perfect Double Bill: There Will Be Blood (2007)
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