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"Giant" Essentials


Brandenot
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Yep. As you may know, Parker was Star of the Month a while back, and before becoming familiar and/or reacquainted with some of her roles, I had gotten it into my brain that she was best at playing the "clingy" sort. However, what that series of her films ended up doing was somewhat dismissing that notion in my mind, as she was much more able to effectively play a wider spectrum of roles than I had remembered...from the "clingy" sort to the "self-reliant" sort.

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I saw this movie an a free outdoor amphitheater in San Antonio with a lot of folks in attendance. As a white Texan who has always loved this favorite of my father (a native of Ft. Worth), I never realized how hurtful and racist this movie is to my hispanic neighbors. Now I shiver when I watch it, but still have to realize it is our history, good or bad.

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I didn't find the movie racist, but rather that the movie is depicting the racist attitudes of many Texans toward Mexican-Americans. I think the ending of the film clearly indicates that these attitudes must be changed for Texas to move forward. The Rock Hudson character's fight in the diner that refused to serve Mexicans and the last scene with the two babies in the crib, one white and one Latino, showed the director's attitude toward the subject of racism.

 

My problem with the movie is James Dean's performance. I feel he is one of the most over-rated actors in film history. Most of his dialogue was almost unintelligible; he barely looked at the camera and appeared to be mumbling throughout the movie. If he hadn't been killed in a tragic accident, I wonder if he would have been as highly regarded as he is today. I think if a stronger actor had portrayed his character, say a Robert Mitchum, it would have been a stronger movie.

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I agree...George Stevens' intent was to depict the largely accepted racism against Mexican-Americans that was prevalent at that time for the purpose of sending a clear message that change was needed not just in Texas, but the entire country. Think about what was going on in 1955...this was the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement. The conflicts Bick Benedict has within himself about accepting changing race relations with Hispanics comes full circle when his son marries Juana. The fight scene at the end is his dramatic epiphany to move forward with a greater sense of equality. On the other hand, there are racial slurs uttered by Rock Hudson and others that definitely make me cringe, but these epithets are always in context to the scene.

 

I think James Dean's performance as Jett Rink is definitely polarizing...either one strongly likes it, or really, really dislikes it. I personally think Dean was exceptional, but that is my opinion. :)

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