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Giant: Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, Edna Ferber, and the Making of a Legendary American Film Hardcover – 10 April 2018
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"A noted authority on all things Texas, Graham turns his attention to film with this authoritative tale of 'Big Texas Oil' and the epic movie Giant . . . A delightful work of film/cultural history for movie fans." --Kirkus ReviewsDon Graham digs into Giant like a wildcatter drilling for oil...He provides colorful tales with minimal Texas exaggeration and a plethora of facts and anecdotes...a book that will satisfy fans of the film.--Philadelphia Enquirer
One of the joys of reading Graham is his ability to tell a complete tale, a scene from life, and cap it with a laconic statement of a theme."--Texas Observer "A lively study of a book and movie that helped define the image of Texas in the last century."--Dallas News "A compelling, behind-the-camera look at one of the 1950s' most unusual--and successful mainstream Hollywood productions...so thorough it should have come with its own stage directions."--Houston Chronicle An entertaining case study...Graham makes the most of the toil and trouble behind Giant, bringing to life an era of filmmaking that's gone with the West Texas wind." -Associated Press "Splendid...A sharp, insightful look at a legendary film."--Booklist (starred review) "A solid historical context...opening the pages of this book is like breaking into a time capsule."--Washington Post "Lively . . . deeply researched and efficiently paced." --Publishers Weekly "Don Graham is a masterful storyteller . . . Just as Giant the movie was the talk of the town back in 1956, I know Don's lively narrative will be the talk of the town today. He captures West Texas and the big screen stars perfectly." --Mrs. Laura Bush
"Don Graham, long a keen student of Texas literature, has given us a brilliant study of a classic American film." --Larry McMurtry, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Last Kind Words Saloon "Don Graham goes far behind the scenes to deftly capture the fragile egos and sexual misadventures of the legendary cast, the extraordinary determination of Stevens, and the reaction of Texans who warily embraced a cinematic self-portrait they found both troubling and irresistible." --Glenn Frankel, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of The Searchers and High Noon "Graham breathes new life into the gripping story behind one of mid-century America's great epics, retold with invaluable insight drawn from the wells of cultural history, Hollywood dish and Texan lore." --Noah Isenberg, Los Angeles Times bestselling author of We'll Always Have Casablanca "Some films are so vital they become part of American history. Giant is one of them. Don Graham shows us how a volatile mix of some of Hollywood's biggest, most troubled, personalities
-- Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, the doomed James Dean -- came together under the brilliant direction of George Stevens to create an epic that rivals Texas in size, scope, and sheer impact. With insight and wit, Graham gives us a highly entertaining saga of how movies are made and why they become iconic." --Nancy Schoenberger, author of the critically acclaimed Dangerous Muse: The Life of Lady Caroline Blackwood and the upcoming Wayne and Ford: The Films, the Friendship, and the Forging of an American Hero "Giant is a page-turning tale of giant talents and egos toiling in a remote Texas location with the legendary director George Stevens to create a classic in American film. Especially Dean is poignantly portrayed as a tortured young man whose career and life flamed out much too soon. Essential reading for every fan of the silver screen." --Tom Clavin, New York Times bestselling author of Dodge City "You've seen the movie, of course? If not, you'll rush to get the Blu-ray when you're a few pages into Don Graham's riveting book that tells the story of 'Giant' from start to finish. That story involves half of Hollywood, and not only the stars -- Elizabeth Taylor, RockHudson, James Dean -- but those other superstars considered for the roles: Audrey Hepburn, William Holden, Grace Kelly, Clark Gable, and many others. This brilliant chronicle will grab you like a thriller." --Sam Staggs, author of All About All About Eve
About the Author
- Publisher : St. Martin's Press (10 April 2018)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1250061903
- ISBN-13 : 978-1250061904
- Dimensions : 16.51 x 3 x 24 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 259,727 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The book is timely too: I recently watched “Giant” with a young Texan who had neither heard of the movie nor recognized any members of its cast. Yet the film was a revelation to him, grand in scale, memorable in its details, and prescient in its critique of racism and sexism. Graham’s book is similarly evocative —underscoring how remarkable director George Stevens’ achievement was. The author gives due attention, of course, to Hudson, Taylor, and especially Dean, but he doesn’t ignore the other people who contributed to the film or landscapes they worked in, especially Marfa, Texas—a stark and gritty town that comes to life in this fine and highly readable book.
Among those considered for the role of Bick were Robert Mitchum, William Holden and Stewart Granger. Those mentioned as possibilities for the role of Leslie included Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Patricia O'Neal and Ann Baxter. Actors considered for the role of Jett included Alan Ladd, Gene Kelly and Robert Mitchum.
In the end, the roles went to Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean. Hudson, not known as a particularly good actor, would give the best performance of his career. Taylor was an established superstar and Dean was a mercurial young actor.
At first, Dean held both Hudson and Taylor with contempt, but he softened toward Taylor. Dean and Hudson never got along. Although Hudson was homosexual and Dean was probably bisexual, they both were, in a sense, pursuing Taylor.
Dean is the most enigmatic of the trio. He and George Stevens clashed from the very beginning.
Stevens, who tolerated Dean, described him as "equal parts brilliant and a royal pain in the ass."
Dean, hungry for publicity and attention, tried to steal the film from Hudson, Taylor and Stevens. Although his role was only a supporting role (he's on screen about a third of the movie), he acted like the movie was all about his character, Jett Rink. He was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Actor in a Leading Role category. He didn't win. But, he probably would have won an Academy Award if he had been nominated in the Best Action in a Supporting Role category.
Author Don Graham provides plenty of background on Stevens, Taylor, Hudson and Dean. I have read a couple books on James Dean and I learned things about Dean from Giant that I didn't know.
Dean was described as a "nervous bundle of volatile polarities, brash bad-boy behavior, open aggression, little boy wounds and exposed nerve endings."
Someone said Dean acted "like a gifted angel and behaved like a juvenile delinquent."
Graham also provides readers with plenty of interesting, behind-the-scenes stories about the making of Giant.
Dean died before the movie was finished, but director George Stevens insisted upon not missing a day of filming. This particularly upset Elizabeth Taylor, who had grown fond of Dean.
If you have any interest in any of the actors involved or the movie Giant, this is a must read.