Like the title says, it's a whopper: 201 minutes of a Texas family's rise to fame and fortune, based on an Edna Ferber novel. Much of it is awful, but it's almost impossible not to be taken in by the narrative sprawl: like many big, bad movies, Giant is an enveloping experience, with a crazy life and logic of its own. George Stevens directed, at the height of his bloated epic period (1956), but unlike his A Place in the Sun, this one isn't entirely sober and sanctimonious; it takes some pleasure in melodrama for its own sake. The mansion on the plain, designed by art director Boris Levin, remains one of the most memorable graphic images of the 50s. With Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, and James Dean—in his last and strangest role.
By Dave Kehr