Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
USA, 1956. George Stevens Productions. Screenplay by Fred Guiol, Ivan Moffat, based on the novel by Edna Ferber. Cinematography by William C. Mellor. Produced by Henry Ginsberg, George Stevens. Music by Dimitri Tiomkin. Production Design by Boris Leven. Costume Design by Marjorie Best. Film Editing by William Hornbeck. Academy Awards 1956. Golden Globe Awards 1956.
One of the greatest-ever Hollywood epics is this drama that now also stands in Hollywood history for being James Dean‘s final film role. Rock Hudson plays a Texas cattle baron who journeys up north and wins the heart of a spirited lass (Elizabeth Taylor), who marries him, moves down south and discovers an outdated society rife with misogyny, racism and classism that she has no intention of putting up with. Dean plays a hired hand who ends up becoming a multi-millionaire with the discovery of oil on his property. The cast is mammoth, as is the photographic and emotional scope of the story, and it’s all held together beautifully by Taylor’s fantastically grounded and intelligent performance. The scenes where the three leads are aged into their twilight years are a bit hard to buy (none of them apparently knew that their body movement would change as they aged), but as actors they manage to pull it off (not to mention that it’s a bit creepy watching Dean portray years he would never see). Carroll Baker makes a great film debut, and you can also catch a very young Dennis Hopper as the couple’s oldest son.