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Film / Giant

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Giant is a 1956 Epic Movie directed by George Stevens, starring Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean. Based on the 1952 novel by Edna Ferber, the film is more famous for being James Dean's last role (some of his lines had to be dubbed).

The film, which spans from the 1920s to the early '50s, is a saga of the Benedict family, beginning when Texan Rancher Jordan "Bick" Benedict (Hudson) heads east to Maryland to purchase War Winds from Dr. Lynnton and ends up marrying his daughter, socialite Leslie (Taylor). They start life at Bick's ranch, Reatta, and have three children. Leslie, who has a hard time dealing with the sexism and racism of Bick and bascially everyone around her, leaves Bick for a time but they eventually reconcile. After Bick's sister dies, she leaves local handyman Jett Rink (Dean) a small plot of land, which he refuses to sell to Bick even though he's offered twice its value. He then strikes oil, which eventually happens around the region with even Bick getting rich off oil after he swore to keep the ranch only cattle. Bick's attitudes are put to the test when his kids grow up and not only do none of them want to run the ranch after him, but his only son Jordy (Dennis Hopper) marries Juana, a Mexican-American.


The movie culminates in the opening of Jett Rink's hotel and airport, and at the big party Jordy tries to fight Jett Rink when he finds out that him and his wife were only invited so that Jett's employees could deny them service. Bick almost gets into a fight with Jett away from the eyes of the people, but is so disgusted by the wasted, over-the-hill shell of a man that Jett has become that Bick simply tells him there's no point in beating him down — and later Jett passes out at his own party. Later on the way home, they stop at a diner and Bick gets into a fight with the racist owner when he refuses to serve a Mexican family — while he doesn't win the fight, he does reignite the love and respect of his wife.


This work contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptational Heroism: In the novel, Bick is not present at the diner toward the end, and so the famous Diner Brawl doesn't happen. Only his wife, daughter and Mexican daughter-in-law are there, and they simply leave without causing any trouble when the diner owner orders them out.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Jett goes on a drunken rant in the banquet hall of his hotel about how he failed to get Leslie from Jett, then falls over forward and knocks the head table over.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Luz's crush on Jett Rink, they later start dating.
  • Auto Erotica: Jett Rink and Luz II.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Jett Rink.
  • Big Fancy House: Bick's house gets even bigger and fancier after they make money in oil.
  • Bookshelf Dominoes: Bick does this to Jett's wine cellar during their confrontation.
  • Brainy Brunette: Leslie is very witty and well-read, reading huge thick books from her doctor father's library at home and she is raven-haired like Elizabeth Taylor.
    • Juana to a lesser extent, she is dark haired and assists Dr. Guerra in his work as a nurse.
  • Broken Pedestal: Luz II gets this of Jett after he drunkenly rants about how he "lost" Leslie to Bick.
  • Cattle Drive
  • Central Theme: The constantly changing face of family.
  • Cool Horse: War Winds. Bick buying the horse was how he met Leslie and later, his sister Luz riding the horse with spurs led to her death.
  • Cool Old Guy: Uncle Bawley, who could be also considered a piano player of sorts.
  • Conspicuous Consumption: One lady comments about how she likes how Texas is a place to outspend everyone.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: Luz takes a strong interest in Jett Rink, her father's rival.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Luz is named after her aunt, who died before she was born.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Leslie, a more gracious and soft-spoken variety than most. She has a zinger after Bick tells her that politics is "men's stuff".
    Men's Stuff? Lord have Mercy, (turns to the other women in their corner) set up my spinning wheel girls, I'll be joining the harem in a moment.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Jett feels this way about Leslie, and it colours his conduct for the rest of the movie.
  • Dirty Old Man: Jett Rink grows into one of these, he even courts the youngest (teenage) daughter of Bick and Leslie.
  • Diner Brawl: Bick gets into a fight with the racist diner owner who refuses to serve a Mexican family.
  • Everything Is Big in Texas: Bick takes his new bride Leslie on a railroad trip to his cattle ranch in Texas. When she looks out the window at the passing scenery and wonders when they'll get to Texas, he announces that they've been in Texas for several hours already. Also, in the beginning of the movie, David asks how big Bick's property is. He guesses 20-50 thousand acres. Bick reluctantly says that he has 595 thousand acres of land.note 
  • Fainting: Leslie faints when she is overcome by the heat. This makes Luz disapprove of her more. But she bounces back and vows never to faint again. Bick is still concerned for her though.
  • Foreshadowing: Luz doesn't like Leslie riding War Winds, saying she'd "fall off and break her neck", but this is what happens to Luz.
  • Frontier Doctor: Jordy becomes a modern version of one of these.
    • Earlier Leslie brings Dr. Guerra, who helps work with the Mexican-American community at Reata.
  • Happily Married: Bick and Leslie.
  • Honorary Uncle: Uncle Bawley to the entire Benedict family, but Leslie and Luz II in particular.
  • Ignored Vital News Reports: Subverted. Judy is parked with her husband to be Bob Pace and turns off a news report about Pearl Harbor, but the report is just a summary of the damage that had been inflicted two weeks earlier - and she notes that she is about to lose him for the war's duration.
  • It's All My Fault: Bick blames himself for Luz's death.
  • Kick the Dog: Luz uses spurs on Leslie's horse, War Wings. It doesn't end well...
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Bick steadfastly refuses to allow Jett to drill for oil on Reatta. When World War II begins, however, he realizes he has to swallow his pride for the sake of the war effort.
  • Lad-ette: Bick's sister Luz, and later his daughter Luz II. Luz was a lot more butch and a bully to the servants, her niece was more of a boy-crazy and sarcastic Tomboy with a Girly Streak.
  • Love at First Sight: Bick and Leslie and later Jordy and Juana.
  • May–December Romance: Luz II is May and Jett Rink is December.
  • My Own Private "I Do": Both Jordy and Judy do this.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Leslie is this to the Mexican servants, practically no body else is. At least at first. Bick is particularly rude to Jett.
  • No Hero to His Valet: Jett, a self-made man who got rich of off oil and owns and runs an airport and hotel, ends up a bitter drunk who rants about how he didn't snare Leslie away from Bick and how he worked as a "flunky" for the Benedicts while a waitstaff stands by waiting to clean up the reception hall.
  • Noble Bigot: Pretty much everyone but Leslie at the start of the film, and it takes a long time for Bick to stop being this even after his son's marriage.
  • One-Word Title
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Plenty to choose from at the hotel opening scene.
  • Pretty in Mink: A number of furs are worn, including one rich lady sporting a huge white fox wrap.
  • Redhead In Green: Vashti, a friend of Leslie and Bick, is a redhead and sports a very gaudy silk green gown later in the film.
  • Rejecting the Inheritance: None of Bick's kids want to take over the ranch.
  • Scenery Porn: The film begins with wide sweeping shots of the green Maryland countryside which then contrasts with the beautiful desolation of Texas.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Jett Rink refuses to sell the land Luz left him back to Bick for twice its value, though it isn't explained why. Later on, this is Bick's reasoning for not allowing oil to be drilled at Reatta, but it's a Broken Aesop as they end up getting rich off oil during World War II.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!:
    • The first thing Jett does after he strikes oil? Drive his truck all over the nicely manicured lawn at Reatta up to the front porch to share the news, make a pass at Leslie, and return Bick's punch with three of his own.
    • It's also implied that Bick could have exercised this up till that moment.
    Uncle Bawley: Bick, you shoulda shot that fella a long time ago. Now he's too rich to kill.
    • Jett rear-ends a parked car while driving to a nightclub - and punches out the driver.
    • Bick tries this with the racist diner owner after he refuses to serve them, to no avail.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Bick is the Manly Man Rancher and Good Ol' Boy to Sensitive Men represented by his son Jordy and son-in-law Bob Dace. Jordy decides to become a doctor and he is much more soft-spoken than his father and while Bob wants to be a rancher, he is a lot more nervous around Bick and ends up letting Judy do most of the negotiating with Bick.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Leslie. She is a gracious, well-read Southern Belle who endears herself to the servants and neighbors; she is also very outspoken and stands up for her Mexican-American neighbors and against the patriarchal attitudes of the men around her.
  • Sleeping Single: Strangely, Bick and Leslie. Which is strange as they're Happily Married and are sharing a bed at first. Luz was at first going to put Bick and Leslie in rooms on the opposite sides of the house until Bick insisted on connecting bedrooms.
  • Shoot the Dog: Bick shoots War Winds after Luz's death, he says he's the one who had to do it.
  • Socialite: Leslie is an East Coast Southern variant of this trope; however she is a lot more savvier intellectually and politically than most examples of the trope, and she isn't elitist.
  • Southern Belle: Leslie is an East Coast variant. She is beautiful, stylish, ladylike, and gracious but she deviates from the classic example of the trope by viewing people of color as her equals and is very intellectual.
  • Stalker Shrine: Jett has a photo of Leslie in his cabin at Little Reatta.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Jett Rink could be considered one of these towards Leslie. He later dates her daughter Luz.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Leslie calls Bick out on this when he patronizingly tells her that women shouldn't talk about business or politics, saying that he knew she had a mind of her own when they married.
  • Team Dad
  • Team Mom: Leslie, she wants the kids to be whatever they want.
  • Tranquil Fury: Leslie to the landlord of the small village where most Mexican-Americans live, after witnessing the neglect and poverty they live in, as she brings Dr. Guerra to start working and inspect the village. She says a few words in her gracious and pissed off Southern Belle accent
    This place is a scandal.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Luz vs. Leslie. In this case it's where the girly girl character is the more likable and heroic character and the protagonist of the film. Luz clomps around in her spurs and long skirt, acting more masculine than the men around her and bullies the servants while Leslie speaks graciously to the servants and takes initiative in her community.
  • The Unfavorite: At the twins' fourth birthday party, Bick makes a point of mentioning that it is his son's birthday...totally ignoring Judy.
  • Unto Us a Son and Daughter Are Born: Jordy and Judy.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: The scene immediately after Jett punches out the driver of a parked car he hits? A newspaper headline about him dedicating a new hospital.
  • Wham Shot: Jett watches as Leslie leaves a footprint in the mud...and oil seeps out.
  • What Does She See in Him?: Leslie about Luz II dating Jett Rink. He is much older than Luz (about the same age as her parents or slightly younger) and she finds her daughter too intelligent to be persuaded by him.
  • Your Money Is No Good Here: Said to the Latino family by the racist diner owner at the end of the film.


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