Giant: Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, Edna Ferber and the Making of a Legendary Film by Don Graham
Published April 10th, 2018 by St. Martin’s Press
Featuring James Dean, Rock Hudson, and Elizabeth Taylor, Giant is an epic film of fame and materialism, based around the discovery of oil at Spindletop and the establishment of the King Ranch of south Texas. Isolating his star cast in the wilds of West Texas, director George Stevens brought together a volatile mix of egos, insecurities, sexual proclivities, and talent. Stevens knew he was overwhelmed with Hudson’s promiscuity, Taylor’s high diva-dom, and Dean’s egotistical eccentricity. Yet he coaxed performances out of them that made cinematic history, winning Stevens the Academy Award for Best Director and garnering nine other nominations, including a nomination for Best Actor for James Dean, who died before the film was finished. In this compelling and impeccably researched narrative history of the making of the film, Don Graham chronicles the stories of Stevens, whose trauma in World War II intensified his ambition to make films that would tell the story of America; Edna Ferber, a considerable literary celebrity, who meets her match in the imposing Robert Kleberg, proprietor of the vast King Ranch; and Glenn McCarthy, an American oil tycoon; and Errol Flynn lookalike with a taste for Hollywood. 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.
Giant was a very well researched book, giving readers a great deal of information on both the actors and the film itself. The author did a good job at combining the topics of the lives of the actors and details of the filming. I personally am more interested in the film and in the filming process, then in depth details about the actors and actresses themselves. The author does include a great deal of information on the filming of the movie, which includes some great black and white photographs in the middle of the book. I believe that anyone who is a fan of the movie, Giant will enjoy this book and I believe that readers who are especially fans of history and film, will really love this book. Unlike some other books that I have read about movies, which often include a lot of pictures and information about where filming took place, Giant provides a much more in depth look at both the film and the actors included in it. I would highly recommend this book to readers who are big fans of actors like Elizabeth Taylor or James Dean or just this particular era in film.
Thank you to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for sending me an ARC of this book.