Giant

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/classichollywood/la-et-mn-ca-classic-hollywood-children-giant-20150412-story.html

Just happened upon this PBS special on the making of the movie Giant and found it very well done and interesting. Begun 60 years ago and released in 1956 the Movie was directed by George Stevens and stared a beautifully captivating Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and an emerging super star James Dean who fatally crashed his new Porsche in Sept 1955. He became an overnight icon for teenagers who thought the accident report was a publicity stunt and lined up in droves at the movies premiere to catch a glimpse of his surprise appearance. The movie was based on Pulitzer Prize winner Edna Ferber’s novel of the same name. I watched the movie as a teen ager and enjoyed it because it was exciting, had great music and a couple of great fight scenes, and while I was not blind to the underlying themes of discrimination I was not as socially conscious then as now. Watching the movie now ( I own the DVD) I find it to be as socially relevant in todays culture as it was in the Texas culture of the 50’s. Ferber had spent months living with the big cattle and oil ranchers and the Mexicans in the area and saw and wrote about the discrimination by Anglos towards Hispanics. George Stevens was one of the fine Directors written about in Five Came Back, a bio I recently read on Directors who went into WWII and made films and documentaries.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/five-came-back-a-story-of-hollywood-and-the-second-world-war-by-mark-harris/2014/03/14/9a47d6f4-989d-11e3-afce-3e7c922ef31e_story.html

He was the director who led his film crew into Dachau as the war ended and filmed the Holocaust. He became the chronicler for film used at the Nuremberg War Trials and was powerful gut wrenching evidence used to convict the Nazis on trial. Much of the footage he took was not released until his death as he could not stand to look at it himself having confined it to storage. What the Nazis did changed him and helped to shape the sympathetic director to view discrimination for what it was. His cinematic genius for story telling really stands out in this special as it does in re-watching the film. It so incensed much of Texas that the ‘swells” threatened to boycott the film if it wasn’t redone. It wasn’t and years later the Texas legislature voted to adopt the Giant Theme Track as the state song. The musical score and direction was done by Dimitri Tiomkin a Russian Jew Composer Director Conductor who scored some of the great Hollywood movies, and was also sympathetic to Ferber’s Novel, and Stevens direction.

It was a perfect marriage of sympathetic Writer, Actors, Director and Musical Composer. They created a lasting testament to the evils of discrimination and the struggle to overcome it a decade before the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I recommend the PBS special and the movie to all.

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One Response

  1. So nice to see a post from you, pt! I never knew that fans thought Dean’s fatal accident was a publicity stunt. Nor did I ever know that Stevens filmed Dachau and the Nuremberg Trials. Your enthusiasm for the movie definitely makes me want to go back and see it again.

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