Monday, May 16, 2022

Lone Star State Tales

Got a late start this morning. I'm still pretty tired, but I did want to at least set up an appointment with the dentist for my regular check-up. I was hoping to do it on Friday, but they're booked solid through Memorial Day. Ended up making it for a few days after my vacation.

It wasn't raining when I had a quick lunch, but I didn't like the look of the dark clouds or how humid it was. Not to mention, I saw the weather reports when I was online. We were supposed to get storms later. I ended up calling Uber. The driver arrived in a quick three minutes. Left a little early to eat a fast lunch at work.

Work was off-and-on steady. We'd get busy, and then it would suddenly die and I'd be bored again. There were some grouchy people - folks are still complaining about the bags - and my first break was late, but nothing really horrible. By the time I finished, we were so dead, I shut down a tiny bit early to refill the reusable bags. 

Sun broke up the clouds around 2, but by 5:30, they moved in again. I walked out of the store and into heavy downpour and strong winds. There were even a few rumbles of thunder, though nothing deafening. The Uber driver was originally supposed to be there in three minutes, but it quickly upped to six once the weather started. She didn't take longer than that, though. The rain slowed and vanished, even as she pulled up to the house.

Rushed upstairs to change, then downstairs to wash out the air conditioner vent. There was no putting it off now. It was too hot not to run it. Also tried some of the Gatorade powder for the first time. Not bad. A little harsher than the Propel, and much bluer!

Finished the night online watching Giant on HBO Max. Jordan "Bick" Benedict Jr. (Rock Hudson) marries Maryland socialite Leslie Lynnton (Elizabeth Taylor) in the early 20's. He takes her to his sprawling Texas ranch, where his rough n' ready sister Luz (Mercedes McCambridge) holds sway.  Leslie doesn't do well there at first. She's too outspoken for the Texas belles, and rebellious ranch hand Jett Rink (James Dean) has a huge crush on her. 

Things change when Luz is killed in a horse-riding accident and bequeaths Jett a small patch of land. Turns out the land holds oil...and a lot of it. Jett becomes wildly wealth and respected, but he's never forgotten Leslie. Bick would rather raise cattle, until shortages during World War II and his rivalry with Jett forces him into oil production. 

Meanwhile, his family with Leslie is flourishing, but his children aren't quite as he hoped. He wanted them to take over the ranch, but Jordy (Dennis Hopper) hopes to be a doctor, Judy (Fran Bennett) wants to start her own life with her husband Bob (Earl Hollman), and Luz II (Carroll Baker) becomes enamored with dashing Jett and his fast-paced lifestyle. Things come to a head when Jordy marries sweet Mexican doctor's assistant Juana (Elsa Cardenas), and she's refused entrance at a big party honoring Jett's new airport...and Bick finally realizes what Leslie had said for years, that his family and championing the burgeoning civil rights movement is a more important legacy than any cattle or oil wells.

I've wanted to see this one for years. I love a good through-the-years story, and this one of the most unique in cinema history. It was also James Dean's last film, released after his untimely death, and he's mesmerizing as he goes from bad-boy hired hand to drunk billionaire who substitutes oil wells and material desires for real love. I'm surprised at the topics covered here too, including feminism in Leslie's desire to be respected and treated as well as the men to civil rights in the treatment of the Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in Texas. And while it does get soapy in the second half when the kids are older, it's never too hard to take.

If you love historical epics, tales of rough and ready Texas, or anyone in the cast and have a spare three hours on your hands, I can't recommend this one enough. 


Linda said...

The horse that Bick buys from Leslie's father is "Highland Dale," who later was FURY in the TV series by the same name. (He also played the lead character in GYPSY COLT, which is basically an American version of LASSIE COME HOME with a horse rather than a dog.)

Linda said...

Oh, and Edna Ferber was known for her multi-generational tales. I don't know if it's available to stream, but they did another of her books as a film, SO BIG, in 1953. The son, Dirk, at age 8, is played by Tommy Rettig, Jeff on LASSIE, and Dirk at age 2 is played by the boy who would replace him, Jon Provost. :-)