George Stevens

Sog.: dal romanzo omonimo di Edna Ferber. Scen.: Fred Guiol, Ivan Moffat. F.: William C. Mellor. M.: William Hornbeck. Scgf.: Boris Leven. Mus.: Dimitri Tiomkin. Cost.: Marjorie Best. Int.: Rock Hudson (Jordan ‘Bick’ Benedict), Liz Taylor (Leslie), James Dean (Jett Rink), Mercedes McCambridge (Luz Benedict), Carroll Baker (Luz Benedict II), Dennis Hopper (Jordan Benedict III), Sal Mineo (Angel), Elsa Cardenas (Juana Benedict), Chill Wills (zio Bawley), Rod Taylor (David). Prod.: Henry Ginsberg, George Stevens per Giant Productions, Warner Bros.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

In Giant there is not an image, appearance, departure, sideways look or retreat into shadows of the young Jett Rink that does not seem made for myth (and its merchandising). Jimmy Dean, with his hat pulled over his eyes, stretching his legs onto the convertible’s dashboard. Jimmy Dean leaning against the door jamb, his hat casting a shadow on his face, magnifying his half-closed lips holding a cigarette. Jimmy Dean running alone like a young coyote on an empty desert background – like the young coyote Liz Taylor sees, herald of a wild land, from the train where she just spent her wedding night. It is not just a question of posthumous light, the American tragedy of the young and beautiful hero killed in action (on a California road, while shooting was still underway). The presence of Jimmy Dean in Giant complies with the demanding process of making a star. With subtlety George Stevens directs him along edges and thresholds. He endures the agitation that this still almost adolescent, alien and decidedly Actors’ Studio figure brings to a rancher epic that is not his own. Jimmy Dean consistently acts “on the side”, as Truffaut wrote; he is always far away, often somewhere in the background, and what happens in the foreground suddenly becomes blurred and of less interest. On the threshold of the grand house at Reata he celebrates his success and the beginning of the end. Oil bubbles up from the footprints of the goddess Leslie/Liz, for whom Jett Rink pines in silence. It takes time and work, and long off-screen sequences while the main characters are putting their marriage to the test, but in the end the oil blows out and drenches him. Jett Rink will be a lonely but rich man. He triumphantly shows off his oily black face – like Accattone‘s face covered in sand, it announces his fate, a smiling tragic mask. This magnificent scene is the film’s turning point where Giant shines for what it is: a failed masterpiece. Few knew how to present family dynamics and how they function emotionally and economically like Stevens. As his comedies from the 1940s demonstrate (The Talk of the Town, The More the Merrier), he could tell the story of what was going on inside homes, caressing the details. His Reata, a faded American Gothic, seems a wild sample taken from a Hopper painting – it is not surrounded by New England but the scorching nowhere of Texas, yet the sense of isolation is the same. Giant has many virtues, which, however, do not prevent it from becoming a bombastic saga about the old and the young, the narrative network dense but not taut, the melodrama feebly assigned to civil rights and anti-racism; and the makeup that has to suddenly make everyone look twenty years older does not help. The fragile giant, American innocence made corrupt by oil, has an awful fake receding hairline. Yes, it is a shame that these are the final images of him preserved on film. But that is how life went (Jett Rink’s life, and Jimmy Dean’s). 


Paola Cristalli 





Copy From

4k restoration from the 35mm original camera negative at Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging, under the supervision of George Stevens Jr. Giant was a 'WarnerColor' feature, which meant that Eastman negative would be processed and optical sections created at the Warner Bros. laboratory, rather than at Technicolor.