Giant (1956)

Giant (1956), produced and directed by George Stevens.

A multi-generational family epic. In the 1920s a Texas rancher with a half million acres goes East to buy a horse and returns with a bride. It takes her a while to fit in but she has grit and over the years becomes her own peculiar kind of Texan. After the babies are born we jump ahead 20 years to see how the elders cope with the travails of the younger generation.

Liz, in bed, to her husband, standing: "Come on, partner. Why don't you take off your spurs?"

At 3 1/4 hours I wouldn't call it slow, but it is deliberately placed. There is no big dramatic arc, just the usual "life happens" developments common in every family. The major themes:

None of the three leads were the first choice, but it worked out well, particularly with Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean (his third and final film). Both were 23. Rock Hudson is ok, but his job is to be stolid and always flustered by change, which is limiting.

For the younger generation we have Dennis Hopper, Carroll Baker, Sal Mineo and Earl Holliman. Baker was older than Taylor who played her mother.

Dimitri Tiomkin score.

The DVD commentary track reveals how they got the babies to cry on cue: they gave them toys then took them away and broke them.

The DVD is 4:3 letterboxed but that is less of a problem with 1.66:1 aspect ratio titles. It looks like all of the PAL editions are similarly non-anamorphic. Later: Blu-ray.