Arlecchino Cinema > 18:30


George Stevens


Saturday 02/07/2022


Original version with subtitles


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 madefor myth. 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 ayoung coyote on an empty desert background – like the young coyote Liz Taylor sees, herald of a wild land, from the train where she justspent 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 under way). George Stevens directs the Actors’ Studio wild boy along edges and thresholds of a rancher epic that is not his own. On the threshold of the grand house at Reata he celebrates his success and the beginning of the end. Oilbubbles up from the tiny footprint 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 willbe a lonely man, but a rich one. 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 the1940s 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 – not surrounded by New England but the scorching nowhere of Texas. Giant has many virtues, which do not prevent it from becoming a redundant saga about the old and the young,the narrative growing denser but not as taut, the melodrama feebly assigned to civil rights and anti-racism; and the makeup that has to suddenly make everyone look 20 years older does not help. The fragile giant, American innocence made corrupt by oil, has that awfully fake receding hairline. Yes, it’s so sad 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

Cast and Credits

Sog.: dal romanzo omonimo (1952) di Edna Ferber. Scen.: Fred Guiol, Ivan Moffat. F.: William C. Mellor. M.: William Hornbeck. Scgf.: Boris Leven. Mus.: Dimitri Tiomkin. 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. DCP. D.: 201’. Col.