A look behind the scenes at the making of the classic film about Texas and the more critical portrait in Edna Ferber's 1952 novel by the same name, which caused an uproar among Lone Star Staters who felt unfairly represented.
No matter what you think of the 1956 epic Giant — some love it as an all-time favorite, some find it overblown — Don Graham’s book is an entertaining case study for anyone who wants to understand how Hollywood lived and breathed in the mid-1950s. His behind-the-scenes story provides as much drama as director George Stevens’ sometimes lumbering movie about a handsome but hidebound cattle baron who brings his East Coast bride to a not-so-little house on the prairie.
Graham’s book, one of several the University of Texas at Austin professor has written about the intersection of pop culture and Texana, is a compelling behind-the-camera look at one of the 1950s’ most unusual — and successful — mainstream Hollywood productions, a film that celebrates Texas’ most enduring virtues even as it criticizes some of its most tragic shortcomings ... Graham doesn’t skimp on the small-town West Texas weirdness, movie-biz trickery (fake tumbleweeds, fake cattle) or on-set shenanigans ... Some of the details Graham digs up about the leading actors’ personal lives are juicy enough for Confidential magazine, the Hollywood scandal sheet that had Hudson’s agent cutting deals to keep his client out of its pages.
The film’s stars, locations and production shenanigans reflect the ducktail, fender-fin decade, which means opening the pages of this book is like breaking into a time capsule ... Graham provides a solid historical context for Giant ... But is Giant legendary as art? Or is it now simply a 1950s artifact? Graham answers this question less satisfactorily. Although he provides expert analyses of some sequences in the film, he struggles to evoke the overall sense of how Giant looks, sounds and affects a viewer. For instance, he devotes one general paragraph to Dimitri Tiomkin’s score, overlooking the alternately silken and blaring themes that drive the film for three hours and 21 minutes. Graham also stints on description of the look of the film ... Had Graham considered in more detail what Stevens captured , he could have made even stronger his strong case for Giant as a 'legendary' work.