“Who gets a hold of this much land unless they took it off someone else?”
Looking at the characters James Dean played in his three leading roles, it’s clear that he was excited to play complex characters that weren’t easy to define as simply ‘protagonist’ or ‘antagonist.’ In his final film, Giant, Dean plays a cowhand that could have easily become a love interest in the first half of the film before he takes a darker turn later on. After looking at his previous films, it seems absolutely like a role Dean would take. Join us — PeteWright and Andy Nelson — as we wrap up our series on Dean’s three films with George Stevens’ 1956 epic Giant.
We talk about the length of the film and the need for this to be an epic that also suffered from epic length – does it help or hinder? We chat about Dean’s brilliant performance paired with the other performers in the project, notably Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson. We also ponder the name ‘Bick’ quite a bit, pondering its evolution. We dig into the scene where Dean serves Taylor some tea and pull out some interesting tidbits. We debate whether Around the World in 80 Days should have beaten this out of a Best Picture Oscar. And we revel in some of the elements in this film – racism, women’s rights – that feel fresh to see in a film from the 50s (and a sad reminder that we still have a ways to go).
It’s not one of our favorites (certainly not Pete’s) but there is a lot of interesting stuff going on here and it makes for a great conversation. So check it out then tune in! The Next Reel – when the movie ends, our conversation begins.
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