Tag: Texas

MOVIE REVIEW | ***B&D FLASHBACK SUNDAY) Giant (1956)

Giant.BelgianPoster.TN
Giant is the ‘other’ James Dean movie.  It’s not Rebel Without a Cause, it’s not East of Eden.  It’s the one that sometimes seems to be looked down on a little and seen as only a curiosity based on the James Dean factor.  But having watched Giant, all 3 hours and 20 minutes of it, I think it’s a great example of a kind of grand, extravagant film making that just doesn’t exist anymore.

Rock Hudson is Texas rancher Jordan “Bick” Benedict.  On an excursion to Maine to buy a prized stallion, he meets, falls in love with and marries Elizabeth Taylor’s   Leslie.  This all happens in the first 10 minutes, so if you’re doing the maths, you’ve already worked out there’s another 3 hours and 10 minutes to fill.  Married before they even leave Maine, Leslie is already fully committed to Bick when they arrive in his desolate Texan wasteland home, complete with tumbleweeds. She is introduced to, and immediately despised by, Bick’s sister, the tough as nails Luz Benedict.  Luckily, Luz bites it soon after.  Unluckily, she leaves a parcel of land to James Dean’s Jett Rink, a not so great farm hand, not particularly liked by Brick.  Despite offers of twice what the land is thought to be worth, Jett keeps it in honour of Luz and out for spite for Rick.  Eventually, this spite pays off when Jett strikes oil and becomes the richest man in Texas.

A few fights and flirts with Jett and Bick later, Leslie grows into her role as a rancher’s wife and Giant takes a couple of jumps in the timeline, using their growing children and events like WWII as indicators as to where we are in the saga.  Once old enough, the Benedict’s eldest daughter threatens to head into Wuthering Heights territory with Jett, adding another reason for Bick to hate him even more as the years pass.

Even at its mammoth running time, Giant never slows down or becomes boring.  It covers roughly a quarter of a century and follows its characters through enough interesting story arcs to keep moving at a pretty cracking pace.  But even if it didn’t, the likes of Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean would make it possible to watch any old crap for hours on end.  Even in the later scenes when their old people make up is less than convincing, these three still manage to make their characters compelling, never goofy.

In the trio of major James Dean appearances, I’d definitely rate this over East of Eden and maybe even put it above Rebel Without a Cause.  I was seriously concerned about the running time as the opening credits began to roll, and I’ll admit to taking a break half way through, but not out of boredom.  Just out of my own inability to sit still for that long.  Honestly, I wouldn’t have minded if Giant was twice as long.

(Original review posted Oct 15, 2013)

Giant
Directed By – George Stevens
Written By – Fred Guiol, Ivan Moffat

MUSIC REVIEW | Willie Nelson – Texas in My Soul (1968)

Willie Nelson - Texas in My Soul

I’m not a huge fan of the Foo Fighters.  I like their singles just fine, I don’t change the station when their songs come on the wireless, but I don’t buy their albums or listen to the deep cuts either.  But I am big Dave Grohl fan.  I think he is the rock star we all hope we would be if we were rock stars.  He lives an amazing life, he knows he lives an amazing life, and he takes advantage of it in awesome ways.  Like turning the recording of their last album into a trans America documentary series for HBO.


Willie Nelson popped up twice in that series.  In the Nasvhille episode of the Foo Fighters Sonic Highways, Dolly Parton told the story of a young, clean cut Nelson plying his trade in Nashville as a song writer, having some success, but never breaking out as a star.  Then Sonic Highways went to Austin and we found out what happened next in the Willie story.  He ditched the suit, grew his hair, embraced is hippie, weed smoking, Texas roots, and became one of country music’s biggest stars ever. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Red River (1948)

Red River

“Never liked seeing strangers. Maybe it’s because no stranger ever good newsed me.”

How many times can you watch John Wayne fight Indians and tame the old west, while also resisting progress as he tries to stick to his ways, surrounded by younger generations intent on change?  Well, it turns you can watch that a lot.  Because I’ve seen it Rio Grande, I’ve seen it in True Grit, I’ve seen it in The Searchers, I’ve seen it in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, I’ve seen it in Rio Bravo and now, I‘ve seen it in Red River.  And it’s still, pretty entertaining.


On a wagon train trail from St Louis headed for California, Thomas Dunson (John Wayne) decides to break off from the group and stay in Texas, where he likes the look of the grasslands for raising cattle.  A few hours later, along with trail hand Nadine Groot (Walter Brannan), they see dark smoke in the distance and know that the rest of the wagon train has fallen victim to marauding Indians.  They dig in on a river bank and wait to be attacked that night.  The attack comes, they win and the next morning a teenage boy wanders into their camp, distraught after seeing the Indian attack while going unnoticed himself.  The two men, one boy, one cow and one bull claim some land in Texas, kill a few Mexicans to keep it, and begin building the enormous cattle ranch Dunson always dreamed of. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Giant (1956)

Giant.BelgianPoster.TN
Giant is the ‘other’ James Dean movie.  It’s not Rebel Without a Cause, it’s not East of Eden.  It’s the one that sometimes seems to be looked down on a little and seen as only a curiosity based on the James Dean factor.  But having watched Giant, all 3 hours and 20 minutes of it, I think it’s a great example of a kind of grand, extravagant film making that just doesn’t exist anymore.

Rock Hudson is Texas rancher Jordan “Bick” Benedict.  On an excursion to Maine to buy a prized stallion, he meets, falls in love with and marries Elizabeth Taylor’s   Leslie.  This all happens in the first 10 minutes, so if you’re doing the maths, you’ve already worked out there’s another 3 hours and 10 minutes to fill.  Married before they even leave Maine, Leslie is already fully committed to Bick when they arrive in his desolate Texan wasteland home, complete with tumbleweeds. She is introduced to, and immediately despised by, Bick’s sister, the tough as nails Luz Benedict.  Luckily, Luz bites it soon after.  Unluckily, she leaves a parcel of land to James Dean’s Jett Rink, a not so great farm hand, not particularly liked by Brick.  Despite offers of twice what the land is thought to be worth, Jett keeps it in honour of Luz and out for spite for Rick.  Eventually, this spite pays off when Jett strikes oil and becomes the richest man in Texas.

A few fights and flirts with Jett and Bick later, Leslie grows into her role as a rancher’s wife and Giant takes a couple of jumps in the timeline, using their growing children and events like WWII as indicators as to where we are in the saga.  Once old enough, the Benedict’s eldest daughter threatens to head into Wuthering Heights territory with Jett, adding another reason for Bick to hate him even more as the years pass.

Even at its mammoth running time, Giant never slows down or becomes boring.  It covers roughly a quarter of a century and follows its characters through enough interesting story arcs to keep moving at a pretty cracking pace.  But even if it didn’t, the likes of Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean would make it possible to watch any old crap for hours on end.  Even in the later scenes when their old people make up is less than convincing, these three still manage to make their characters compelling, never goofy.

In the trio of major James Dean appearances, I’d definitely rate this over East of Eden and maybe even put it above Rebel Without a Cause.  I was seriously concerned about the running time as the opening credits began to roll, and I’ll admit to taking a break half way through, but not out of boredom.  Just out of my own inability to sit still for that long.  Honestly, I wouldn’t have minded if Giant was twice as long.

Giant
Directed By – George Stevens
Written By – Fred Guiol, Ivan Moffat