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Texas Matters: A ‘Giant’ Statement Against Racism

Warner Bros. Pictures
Scene from "Giant."

44 days – that’s how long it took a Warner Bros. movie crew to shoot the movie "Giant" in Marfa, Texas. The wooden skeleton of the set's mansion is all that stands today, but the film continues to have a lasting impact on the West Texas town.  

The epic – directed by George Stevens - starred Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean. And it also put the Lone Star State in a starring role.

"Giant’s" promotional trailers spotlighted the oil, cattle and dusty landscapes of Texas – but inside the three hour, 17 minute movie was another story that director Stevens set out to tell – one of racial hatred against Mexican-Americans. It was best illustrated in the Sarge’s Diner scene when the owner refuses to serve a three elderly Mexican-Americans. Bick Benedict, played by Rock Hudson, steps up to defend them and that leads to a bloody brawl.

Hector Galan, a veteran and award winning documentary filmmaker, has produced a new feature-length documentary looking at "Giant" and what the film means. Funded by Latino Public Broadcasting, "Children of Giant" will broadcast on PBS on April 17, and premieres this weekend at the Cinefestival in San Antonio.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi