I just watched a movie called Giant, it came out in 1956 and stars Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean; it also has a young Dennis Hopper, really surprised me when I saw him. I had heard good things about this movie, and it intrigued me, probably the title. It’s quite a terse title loaded with symbolism and meaning; leaves plenty of possibilities. This was the first movie I had seen with Rock Hudson, but there was something very familiar about him; maybe it’s because he looks like Carey Grant, no! Gregory Peck , I thought it was a mix of Carey Grant and Dean Martin, more Carey though, but it’s definitely Gregory Peck he reminds me of. Anyway, both Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson were terrific, they really made the movie. I had always heard such great things about Elizabeth, but I had always assumed Rock Hudson was more of a B-List actor who starred in silly Sci-Fi 1950s movies with giant radioactive dung beetles crushing cities or things like that. As for James Dean, I had only seen one other movie with him (Rebel Without a Cause) but that was quite awhile ago and I’m not sure how I felt about it. He has a very unique style of acting. He’s always looking down at the ground or away from the camera, and sort of mumbles. I suppose that is what made him so appealing to women, he was very aloof and mysterious, something always seemed like it was eating away at him on the inside and he just would never let you know what it was. Anyway, I didn’t really like his character in this movie, it really pissed me off; which is to say he probably is a good actor to make me feel such strong emotions toward him.
This movie was incredibly depressing and very long. It starts off with Rock Hudson going to buy a purebred horse from Elizabeth Taylor’s family in Maryland. Rock Hudson owns an enormous cattle ranch in Texas and is descended from a long line of prosperous cattlemen who have handed down the ranch, the Benedicts is their family name. Well, Elizabeth and Rock fall in love while he’s there and they get married, so they end up going back to his ranch in Texas together. Oh, and the horse Rock buys is Elizabeth’s favorite or something. Anyway, they go back to his house and he only lives with his sister (who in today’s culture would obviously be acknowledged as a lesbian) and a few Mexican servant girls. His sister doesn’t like Elizabeth too much and what do you know she also doesn’t like her horse. So one day she goes out and tries to ride Elizabeth’s horse but no one can ride it but Elizabeth because it’s too wild and she ends up getting thrown off the horse to her death. But! Not only that, the horse breaks its leg and Rock has to shoot it. That’s where the depression begins. Anyway, James Dean is a guy who works on the ranch and he thinks Elizabeth is the hottest girl ever and instantly wants her and he also obviously doesn’t like Rock too much. Needless to say, apparently the only guy that Rock’s sister ever had the hots for was James Dean, because she left him land from the ranch in the will. So James goes off with his land and then discovers oil and to make a long story short, he has this weird obsession with the Benedict family, about how they always had it good and were rich and he’s super jealous and obsessive over them and of everything they got, including Elizabeth Taylor. So, James strikes it rich in the oil business and eventually becomes the richest man in the world basically and builds hospitals and airports and has it all, but he’s a weirdo drunk guy who gets in fights all the time still. In the preceding years, Rock and Elizabeth had two daughters and a son. Since James can’t get Elizabeth, he winds up coming around trying to get one of Rocks’ daughters, who incidentally is named after Rock’s dead sister who left James the land which made him rich. So blah blah blah who gives a fuck anyway, at first the daughter likes James but then she sees that he’s really a fucking drunk miserable piece of shit.
The moral of the story is, true wealth is not in the amount of money you have, but family and friends and the people who love you. That is true wealth. James ends up becoming richer than Rock but he never is happy. Rock has a big family with grandchildren even by the end and plenty of friends so he wins! Also, the issue of racism toward Mexican-Americans is throughout the movie. Elizabeth is really nice to the Mexican servants when she moves in and everyone is like “what do you think you’re doing? you’re not supposed to be nice to them. Stop it.” But, she won’t, she even makes the white doctor go around to the Mexican living places to help their sick. Then, later, Dennis Hopper, Rock and Elizabeth’s son marries a Mexican girl. When she isn’t allowed to go to a beauty parlor, Dennis blows up on James who owns the parlor, but James knocks him out, so Rock goes and assaults James. Later, Rock goes out with his Mexican daughter-in-law and wife and daughter and Mexican grandson to a diner and they don’t want to serve them, and he gets into a huge fistfight with a really big chef guy who owns the place. So, the end. Don’t be greedy, don’t be jealous, focus on loving your family and being good to your friends, treat everyone like people regardless of their race, and, oh yeah, women are people too, even Mexican women or any race of women. Also, Rock’s son (Dennis Hopper) wants to be a doctor instead of running the ranch, which totally depresses Rock because his long line of tradition is going to end and he feels like a failure. But, hey, another moral, even though life may not turn out the way you wanted it to, you can still be a success; so, don’t be blind to what you do have because you’re so caught up in what you don’t have or what didn’t happen. If life doesn’t turn out the way you planned it doesn’t automatically mean you’re a failure. You could have succeeded in other, possibly even greater ways. Amen.