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Giant: Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, Edna Ferber, and the Making of a Legendary American Film

by Don Graham

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403628,387 (4.63)9
"A larger-than-life narrative of the making of the classic film, marking the rise of America as a superpower, the ascent of Hollywood celebrity, and the flowering of Texas culture as mythology. Drawing on archival sources, Graham's Giant is a comprehensive depiction of the film's production, showing readers how reality became fiction and fiction became cinema."--Dust jacket.… (more)
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A fantastic and well researched look at the making of the 1956 film Giant. The book is essentially a biography of the film from information on Edna Ferber and her successful book Giant and then George Stevens work on the script, casting, filming, etc. Points where the film differed from the book were pointed out and Stevens improvements were well done. It was interesting reading about the location shooting in Marfa, Texas and how the stars interacted (or not) with the locals. I had no idea James Dean was such a pain to work with and wonder what his future would have been if he had not been killed. I did find it interesting though that the author felt that of the three stars (Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, and James Dean) that Dean is the only one remembered today. On the 50th anniversary of Dean's death we had a luncheon at work and I had put up events in history on that date (September 30) and most of the people under 40 had no idea who James Dean was. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the film Giant, director George Stevens or actor James Dean. ( )
  knahs | Oct 30, 2019 |
For more reviews and bookish posts please visit: http://www.ManOfLaBook.com

Giant: Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, Edna Ferber, and the Making of a Legendary American Film by Don Graham is a non-fiction book detailing of the making of this landmark 1956 film. Mr. Graham is a Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin.

It is important to note that the author of this book is an expert on all things Texas including its culture, literature and history. The movie which is written about is the on screen representation of a book which tried to criticize Texas and what is stands for. Knowing all this, the reading of Giant: Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, Edna Ferber, and the Making of a Legendary American Film by Don Graham makes it even more fascinating than just a history of a historic motion picture.

Mr. Graham wrote a fascination window into the America of the 1950s, with all the rot and glamour of Hollywood at a time when America was starting to look in the mirror and many didn’t like what they saw. The background of the author, actors, director and crew are all vivid and intelligently written, even the bad jokes by studio’s head are included for context.

This is not just a “making of” book, a piece of fluff Hollywood marketing, but an honest look at the difficulties and sacrifices many people make to make this vision come to life (or the theater). Liz Taylor, who was trying establish herself as a serious adult actress, was going through a divorce, James Dean was dealing with lifelong issues, Rock Hudson’s acting and more. The book also sets up the sexual abuse actors, both male and female, had to deal with which was part of the culture and the job.

The novel written by Edna Ferber in 1952 was a platform used to criticize the racial intolerance in the United States generally, and Texas specifically. The movie, shot on location in Marfa, TX was at first viewed in negative connotation, but as the filming progressed the Texas natives, many who benefited from the production, as well as fans who were welcomed to the open set changed their minds.

This book, chronologically chronicling the filming of the movie, presents many anecdotes on the set, including from residents who were around to watch the movie being filmed. Those anecdotes, of the actors, crew and witnesses is the strength of this book, which is easy to follow and an enjoyable read. ( )
  ZoharLaor | Mar 24, 2018 |
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"A larger-than-life narrative of the making of the classic film, marking the rise of America as a superpower, the ascent of Hollywood celebrity, and the flowering of Texas culture as mythology. Drawing on archival sources, Graham's Giant is a comprehensive depiction of the film's production, showing readers how reality became fiction and fiction became cinema."--Dust jacket.

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