“Giant” follows the story of a wealthy Texas rancher (Rock Hudson), his eastern-born wife (Elizabeth Taylor) and a young ranch hand set on making something of himself (James Dean). On the negative side, the movie is LONG, and you can usually guess where the story is going from the beginning of a scene. However, there is so much to love and appreciate about this film that it is easy to overlook its few shortcomings.
First of all, I was impressed with how well the story, characters, and acting has held up over the years. Some of the scenes (mostly the poorly choreographed fight scenes) show their age, but overall, because of the focus on the characters and their personal arcs, it did not feel as dated as movies from this age can. I loved that the script told the story through conversations. Elizabeth Taylor is still vibrant as Leslie Benedict – never afraid to tell her husband (or anyone else) what she thinks and doing as she pleases despite stepping on the toes of convention. And to pit Rock Hudson against James Dean was a move of casting genius. Hudson, with his chiseled features and theatrical-style delivery, represents all that is traditional and old-fashioned, while Dean, with his Method style of acting, represents the future. Since the film was released after Dean’s tragic death, I’m sure it immensely helped build his still-standing iconic status as a Hollywood star. However, I was very pleased to find that the film’s laurels don’t rest on the fact that it was Dean’s last film. It is overall a very, very good film.