Screening introduced by George Stevens Jr. via Zoom, Founder of the American Film Institute, son of director George Stevens, author of “My Place in the Sun: Life in the Golden Age of Hollywood and Washington”
A classic depiction of the 20th century transformation of the American West, Giant is a sweeping saga of jealousy, racism and the clash of cultures set in the vast Texas oilfields. Wealthy rancher Bick Benedict (Rock Hudson) and dirt-poor cowboy Jett Rink (James Dean) both woo Leslie Lynnton (Elizabeth Taylor), a beautiful young woman from Maryland, who is new to Texas. She marries Benedict, but is shocked by the racial bigotry of the White Texans against the local people of Mexican descent. Rink discovers oil on a small plot of land and uses his vast, new wealth to buy all the land surrounding the Benedict ranch. Meanwhile, Benedict’s prejudice fuels conflict that runs across generations.
Edna Ferber’s novel Giant was said to have been based on the life of Texas oil mogul Glen McCarthy. The film was shot on location in Marfa and Valentine in Texas and Charlottesville, VA. The large Benedict estate was built at the Warner Bros. prop department and shipped to the Worth Evans Ranch, twenty-one miles from Marfa, where the facade remains. The oil derricks seen in the film were also built in Hollywood and transported to the Texas film site.
Contemporary reviews for the film praise its direct and unflinching portrayal of racism. On September 30, 1955, four days after filming his final scenes, Dean was killed in a car crash near Salinas, making it his last film appearance.
Restored by Warner Bros. in collaboration with The Film Foundation. Special thanks to George Stevens Jr., Martin Scorsese, and Steven Spielberg.
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Festival of Preservation
The annual Sag Harbor Cinema Festival of Preservation is made possible with the generous support of our presenting sponsor, Warner Bros-Discovery, and with additional support from the Suffolk County Film Commission.