Filmsite Movie Review
Giant (1956)
Pages: (1) (2) (3) (4)
Plot Synopsis (continued)

Jett's Discovery of Oil at Little Reata:

Enmity between the two rivals Jett and Bick persisted over the years, and although Jett had the legal right of easement to haul and transport items through Bick's Reata ranch, Bick wanted him prohibited from prospecting: "I want him out of here." Jett had invested heavily in oil drilling on his land, mostly to restore an old broken down oil drill from a past and unsuccessful exploratory search. He was nearly broke: "He's borrowed about all he could. He's down to his last collar button." Bick wanted him eliminated: "Buy him out and get him out of here."

Suddenly, a rumbling noise signaled that Jett had struck oil on his inherited land. A spout of black crude shot out of one of his drilling pipes, and rained down on him. He was soon covered with the gushing black liquid gold as he outstretched his arms to bathe in it.

He drove his dilapidated truck onto the front lawn of Reata, where the well-dressed men of the county were conversing with Bick on the porch. Still covered in the crude oil, he approached Bick and proudly boasted and proclaimed that he would become richer than the Benedicts. While gloating, he also spewed his long-held resentment for the upper-class family:

My well came in, Bick, ha, ha, ha....Everybody thought l had a duster. Y'all thought ol' Spindletop and ol' Burke Burnett - that was all the oil there was, didn't ya? Well, l'm here to tell you it ain't, boy. lt's here. And there ain't a dang thing you're gonna do about it. My well came in big, so big, Bick. And there's more down there, and there's bigger wells. l'm rich, Bick! (He climbed the porch stairs) l'm a rich 'un. l'm a rich boy. Me - l'm gonna have more money than you ever thought you could have! You and all the rest of you stinkin' sons of Benedicts.

When Leslie congratulated Bick, but suggested that he return home, he made an inappropriate pass toward her:

My, you sure do look pretty, Miss Leslie. You always did look pretty. Just pretty nigh good enough to eat.

He turned toward her and leaned on the clean, pure white pillar of Bick's front porch estate with his oil-covered hand - it was a striking contrast between the dignified old wealth of cattle ranching (symbolized by the genteel Benedicts) and a new class of nouveau riche oil wildcatters (signified by the dirty, crass braggart Jett). Enraged, Bick punched Jett in the face, who rose to his feet and exclaimed: "My, you're touchy, Bick. Touchy as an old cook." Jett was able to get in a few punches himself as he was about to descend the front steps, when Bick was held back by his buddies. Once Jett ran to his truck and hurriedly drove off, Uncle Bawly drawled:

Bick - You should have shot that fella a long time ago. Now he's too rich to kill.

Further oil strikes on Jett's Little Reata ranch made Jett wealthy and prosperous, as iron oil derricks popped up on his land. Bick was exasperated by Jett's fortune and success, and demanded (through his lawyer) that Jett stop using the name Reata:

You tell your client that Reata's my property. And the name of Reata's my property. Texas courts are fair. He's to cease usin' the name of my ranch in his oil schemes. I won't have oil diggin' on Reata, and I won't stand for its name being used.

Jett named his prosperous, new multi-million dollar organization the "JETEXAS COMPANY," and hung a prominent white-lettered red sign on his property's chain-link fence. The Jetexas landscape was dotted with more oil derricks, and red and white Jetexas Oil trucks frequently passed by the front of the Reata cattle ranch. Bick was determined to continue being a traditional cattle rancher as previous generations had been, although significant shifts in the state's chief export were occurring all around.

The Second Benedict Generation - Disputing Their Childrens' Future Careers:

Years later, the children were now teenagers, and Leslie and Bick had developed graying temples, and were domestic homebodies of the older generation. Their youngest teen daughter, Luz (Carroll Baker as adult) enjoyed gossiping about her namesake: "They say that Aunt Luz was really in love with Jett Rink herself. Even if she was old enough to be his mother....She was a character. They say she was always tryin' to keep him from getting married. He had to run off to marry you...You know what they say? They say that every girl in Texas was tryin' to catch Papa. They said, quote that: 'There wasn't a prize bull like him since Sam Houston got married.'" Leslie described how their courtship was actually only a two-day romance: "It took me two whole days to land him." Luz replied: "It all sounds so fascinatin' and uncouth."

Their twin boy Jordy III (Dennis Hopper as adult) was closer to Leslie than Bick, and divulged his intentions to break from tradition. Instead of succeeding Bick and running the ranch, he told Leslie that he planned to first study at Harvard, and then go on to further schooling at Columbia for pre-med training. He explained how he would be an awful heir to manage Reata, and wished for her support to help convince his father:

Jordy: There's 50,000 guys can do it better than I can. I don't want to live my life pushing cows around. Oh Mama, I'd die for Papa if I had to.
Leslie: Your father doesn't want you to die for him. He wants you to live for him.

Meanwhile, twin girl Judy (Fran Bennett as adult) was dating a local ranch cowboy named Bob Dace (Earl Holliman), and was hopeful that her father would support her future plans - against Leslie's wishes.

One evening while reading in their bedroom (in separate twin beds), the Benedicts bickered about their opposing feelings regarding their childrens' futures - their two eldest twins ("an odd pair of fledglings") seemed to be pursuing their own ambitions or vocations - in conflict with their elderly parents' wishes:

Leslie: I wonder if we love them enough to do what's really right for them...I mean, so we love them too much perhaps. So much, we keep from doing what's right for them.
Bick: Not me. You don't have to worry about me. It's always the mother. The theory is - she don't want her fledglin's to leave her nest and try their own wings. All that sorta stuff.
Leslie: You mean you'd, you'd be perfectly willing to sacrifice?
Bick: Yeah. I'd sacrifice for 'em. You know that.

Although Leslie strongly desired that Judy attend a girl's finishing school in Switzerland, her daughter's real intentions were to go to college at Texas Tech to study animal husbandry (Leslie objected: "That is a man's school"). Bick was supportive of Judy's plans: "She wants to be a rancher, like her old man....She's got her mind set on it. That's what she wants. And I, for one, am willin' to sacrifice."

On the other hand, Bick was not as 'willing to sacrifice' to assent to Jordy's plan to become a doctor, and preferred that Jordy succeed him and take over management of the ranch. It was a tremendous rebuke to his father that Jordy had no interest in running Reata. Bick was stubbornly opposed to both Jordy's planned career and Leslie's supportive advocacy:

Over my dead body! You know what he's supposed to do....He'll do as we've all done....I can see who's been cookin' this thing up...No matter where he goes to school, he comes right back home and runs Reata.

However, it appeared that both children would follow their future pursuits by asking one parent to convince the other - in a mutual compromise - to let them have their way.

Jett's Nouveau Riche Wealth - Pressure to Drill For Oil on Reata:

Well-dressed, mustached Jett (with sunglasses) met with oil industry legal advisors to discuss negotiations with Bick, but was warned: "That Benedict is a hard guy to crack." Jett preferred to continue their struggle: "Let's just keep punchin', boys." His oil wells continued to dip into the ground, as he drove by in a gold convertible. He had become even more contemptible - in town, he recklessly ran into a parked car, and engaged in a punching match with the other driver outside a nightclub.

The Hermosa Daily News reported headlines: "JETT RINK DEDICATES HOSPITAL." Uncle Bawley was skeptical of Rink's intentions and warned Bick to be watchful:

What's he coverin' up now? That hombre's gonna overstep the mark one of these days....Give him enough rope and he'll hang you.

Luz had begun to develop a crush on Jett ("I think he's nice") - much to Bick's dismay and disapproval.

Jett persisted in pressuring the resentful Bick - offering to drill for oil on Reata, but Bick resisted during a phone call:

You've heard from me before on this, Jett. Judge Whiteside told ya, and I told ya. This is a cattle ranch, not an oil field. That's the way it's gonna stay.

Uncle Bawley understood that eventually, Bick might be forced to give in: "That was about the most expensive phone call you ever made, Bick. Cost you about a billion dollars a year for the next 50 years." Luz added: "Couldn't we have just one little, itty-bitty oil well, so I can get my own private phone?"

1940s War-Time - Career Paths for the Benedict Children:

During a date between Judy and Bob, a radio announcer followed up with a report two weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor (Dec 7, 1941), and the US' entry into World War II:

After reporting to President Roosevelt, the Naval Secretary told the press that the battleship Arizona and five other warships were lost in the Japanese air raid on the naval base at Pearl Harbor a fortnight ago. He reported that 91 officers and 2,638 enlisted men were known dead.

At Christmas time, Judy could foresee that Bob would soon be drafted into the war and she would temporarily lose her sweetheart. After their date, the couple entered her bedroom and shut the door. After a cut (a period of time), they appeared from behind her upstairs bedroom door. A toweringly-tall giant Christmas tree had been erected (like a giant oil derrick) in the middle of the Benedict's living room, as the family gathered on Christmas day for a house party at Reata to sing a medley of songs including "Silent Night" and "Jingle Bells". It was evident to the entire Benedict clan that Judy and Bob had eloped, run off to get married, and were already enjoying their honeymoon.

The party guests included Angel Obregon Sr.'s son Angel II (Sal Mineo as adult), who was shown off wearing a brown soldier's uniform, and proudly introduced by Old Polo: "He's the first soldier from Reata." Leslie presented him with a Christmas gift (a wristwatch), and wished for his safe return after the war was over. Jordy opened a gift from his dad - an oversized, ill-fitting cowboy hat, and some of the female guests mockingly laughed at how it dwarfed his head. Jordy greeted Dr. Guerra during the festivities and met his cute Mexican-American daughter Juana Villalobos (Elsa Cárdenas), a nurse-in-training at the local hospital. As they shook hands, static electricity sparked between them (Jordy: "Must be that darned north wind static or somethin'") - but Dr. Guerra interpreted it as a romantic connection: "Dry wind, friction, and a heavy carpet are not the only means of creating electricity between human beings." Bob (who had just been drafted) chatted with Angel II about what it would be like ("the lowdown") to be in the service.

Later that afternoon, Bick (drunk on bourbon-spiked egg-nog, his own concocted "Christmas special") toasted his two 'Reata sons' (Jordy and son-in-law Bob), although Jordy cautioned him to go easy on the alcohol for his health's sake. Bick also praised Angel II, and again tried to convince his son (who had graduated from Harvard) to now follow in his footsteps, but Jordy was resolved to break from tradition:

Bick: That boy's the best danged man on the place. Now that you've finished college, it's a good time for you to take your place here, and produce beef for the war.
Jordy: They need doctors, Dad. They need doctors in the war, too. I'm going to finish medical school if I can.
Bick: You are being bull-headed.
Jordy: I never would be any good runnin' this place. Any man on Reata can do it better.
Bick: Jordy, you're the one. You're the one with a responsibility to Reata.
Jordy: Your blood pressure's goin' up just while we're talkin' here.

Jordy asserted: "There's nothing to discuss." His future plans were to work with Dr. Guerra at Biendecito ("I love Texas as much as you do, Dad, and I want to work here. I just want to work in a different way, that's all"). When his intentions again fell short with Jordy, Bick then turned to have a "serious talk" with Bob. He hinted that he wanted his son-in-law to take over Reata after his retirement by stating: "You're a ranchman and you're smart...You could never be anything but a rancher, could ya?" But Bob's imminent future had already been determined by a draft summons that ordered him to report for induction-duty on December 28th. Bick promised that once the war was over, he would turn over management of Reata to both Bob and Judy - but they both said they preferred to get a smaller place of their own:

Judy: We want a place just our own.
Bick: You crazy kids, you! Can you imagine you'll ever have anything like this? Like Reata?
Bob: Gosh, no, sir. We just want a little place.
Judy: Just a little place, Daddy, that'll allow us time for experimentation and progress.
Bob: You see, sir, well, big stuff is old stuff now.
Bick: Big stuff is old stuff?!
Judy: Daddy, Bob didn't mean to upset you. He just wants to be honest, that's all. We just want somethin' little that's our own. That's all. Just ours. You see, Dad?

Bick disconsolately muttered to himself that all of his efforts had been in vain to pass on Reata and its traditions to his heirs:

Bick: Keepin' it together all my life for 'em! Battle mesquite, dust, wind, keepin' it big - and for who? I might just as well give it back to the dirty Comanches!
Luz: That's the Christmas spirit, Dad. Give it all back to poor old Indians.

Bick's Oil Deal With His Nemesis Jett Rink - The Benedicts Become Oil-Rich Texans:

At that moment, Jett (not realizing that it was Christmas Day) arrived at the front door and was allowed to enter by Luz. He was there to "talk a little business" with Bick.

Country needs petroleum. I'm goin' to Washington, Bick. The reason I'm goin' and the reason I'm here is oil....Seems like every time we made a deal, me and you, it just turned out pretty lucky for somebody. (He pulled the lever on a toy slot machine in his hands, hitting the jackpot)

He persuaded his long-time rival to allow oil production and oil-well drilling on his land to help the war effort. Distraught that his children had all abandoned his plans to take over Reata, Bick reluctantly was convinced to agree. There was no further deal-making in the dialogue - a montage illustrated how oil drilling was expanded throughout Reata. Cattle-ranching and oil drilling were seen to co-exist.

Sometime later, the oil-rich Bick, now a Texas oil baron as well as cattle rancher, reclined on a lounger by his gigantic swimming pool installed in the front of his Reata estate's yard (now a modernized structure with the pool and a full fenced-in tennis court!). He was rationalizing how he had given in to the spread of the oil industry, and downplayed his ostentatious and extravagant spending - including recreational improvements to his property:

Bick: You know, all this oil around here hasn't made a lot of difference. We live pretty much the way we always have here at Reata. Uncle Bawley: Mm, hmm. Just like we Benedicts found it. Bick, it was good of you to set that concrete pool right down yonder in the front yard, though...
Bick: Well, it's good for the young folks. We'd have made improvements around here, oil or no oil.

One of the laws passed in Washington that had made all the local ranchers richer (with oil on their land) was the government's 27.5% tax exemption on oil. Bick's self-congratulatory legal and political cronies all took some credit for it (Pinky: "That oil tax exemption's the best thing to hit Texas since we whupped Geronimo! Yee-Hoo!"). However, the "sharp-talking" Leslie was disgusted by the government's largesse toward the oil-rich Texans rather than toward liberal causes helping the poor:

How about an exemption for depreciation of first-class brains, Senator?...My father's, for instance. He spent his life saving other people's lives. How about some tax exemption there?

She emphasized her point by forcefully striking a tennis ball with a wooden racket back toward the tennis court.

The War Years - Homecomings, Funerals and Births:

In a private Mexican-Catholic ceremony with a priest, Bick's son-heir Jordy married Hispanic Juana, without his family present. Intermarriage between the races would slowly lead to further integration. Later, a train pulling into the local Benedict train station was met with a sign: "WELCOME HOME, SGT. DACE," and the high-school marching band. Judy was present along with other wives for the same purpose, to greet her husband Bob, and other local returnees. An old-fashioned outdoor pool party and square dance (with a caller) was held at Reata that evening to honor the soldiers.

Jordy attended the party with his newly-wed wife Juana, and walked up to introduce his Hispanic bride to his mother. Their conversation was drowned out by the square dance - she stood in stunned shock and then embraced her new daughter-in-law. And then, Jordy and Juana interrupted the square dance caller, took the stage, and announced their unexpected news of marriage:

Friends and neighbors - uh, I want you all to meet my wife. This is Mrs. Jordan Benedict III.

Another more somber homecoming was for Angel Obregon II. A newspaper headline announced his arrival: ANGEL OBREGON COMES HOME TODAY. His flag-draped casket was unloaded onto a wagon by the side of the train. As Bick and Leslie prepared to attend the funeral service, Leslie remarked: "He was the first Reata baby I ever saw. I remember it as if it were yesterday when I picked him up. He had a fever. I didn't think he was going to live the day out." Bick removed a Texas flag from his own collection to give to the grieving Obregon family. At the grave-side funeral in Biendecito, during the playing of Taps, the attending soldiers gave Angel's father the American flag (that had draped the coffin) before interment in honor of his son's bravery. Bick also presented his flag to Uncle Polo and the family. A gun salute and the singing of "The Star Spangled Banner" by young choir boys concluded the solemn service.

New life came in the form of offspring (both boys) for the Benedict children:

  • an unnamed infant - for Judy and Bob Dace
  • Jordan Benedict IV (Ramon Ramirez and Perfideo Aguilar as infant) - for Jordy and Juana

The Continuing Benedict-Rink Rivalry:

A giant invitation card announced Jett Rink's (JR's) celebration of the "formal opening" of the Jett Rink Airport and Hotel Emperador (in Hermosa), to be held at 8 o'clock (on Tuesday, the 14th). In the newly modernized living room of Reata, Luz was excited about attending the party, hosted by the infamous Jett Rink who had amassed an immense fortune:

Everyone in the world's gonna be there. I'm gonna fly up to Dallas, and I'm going to Neiman's. I'm gonna buy myself a sort of a starlight-white evening dress. Very plain and simple - and deadly.

To Leslie's surprise, Luz (who was obviously infatuated with Jett) had already promised that she would attend ("He likes me. He likes my family, too...He's dreamy. Ask the Snythe girls. Ask anyone. He's just a rough diamond"). Leslie, however, believed that he was trouble:

He's a rough rhinestone. He's old enough to be your father.

Uncle Bawley had his own strong opinion about Jett's announcement: "It's a coronation. Ol' Jett's fixin' to get himself crowned king." The event's guest list would include all the wealthy and "most important people in the country," and it would be broadcast on TV coast-to-coast. Bick was uninterested in attending: "Eliminate one...That's me." However, Bick would reluctantly attend like everyone else important (Uncle Bawley: "You'll be roped in with the herd, Bick. You'll be puttin' on your pink shoes and dancin' to Jett's fiddles just like all the rest of 'em"), but would deliberately make it his intention to show up Jett - by arriving in style in his own airplane:

Bick: Well, if we go then, we'll do it right. We're oil rich, just like the rest of 'em, so we'll go like the rest of 'em - only better...The ol' Benedict spirit...Yeah, we'll show that so-and-so who's top people around this part of the country. I'll even buy that four-engine Douglas they've been tryin' to sell us.
Bawley: You can fly in some orchids from Hawaii.
Bick: We'll fly in and buzz in low right on top of that building - shake the tiles right off that hotel roof.

Bick made motions suggesting an airplane flying in low - the next image was of Bick looking out of his newly-purchased, low-flying, four-engine prop airplane (emblazoned by Benedict Reata) buzzing through the sky near a group of galloping horses on the open range - a symbol of the past and present now co-existing side-by-side.

The entire complex of the Jett Rink Airport and nearby Hotel Emperador was displayed in a large-scale model, inside the hotel where the event would be held. The Benedict plane buzzed the building, nearly upsetting a waiter's tray of drinks. As part of the celebration, a parade was held with a band playing "The Eyes of Texas" near the Jett Rink airfield in Hermosa, TX. [Note: This sequence was filmed at the Hollywood/Burbank Airport.] Important guests deplaned, including star Lola Lane (Noreen Nash), as attendees exclaimed:

Lady: I'll bet even Hollywood flings aren't this exciting....Jett's always tryin' to do things in a bigger way and spend more money than anybody else...
Gentleman: To some folks, he's just a no-good, wildcattin' so-and-so.

"The Emperor hisself" was chauffeured in an open yellow 1955 Lincoln Capri convertible during the parade. In another convertible, a red 1956 Lincoln Premiere, Luz rode in style as the event's Queen, with a flowing purple gown and gold crown (and bouquet of flowers). Bick was distressed and blindsided by the sight:

Oh, Lord! My daughter, Queen of Jett Rink Day! What is this!?

In the Benedict's Coronado Suite at the hotel, a very upset Bick continued to gripe about Luz's growing closeness to Jett: "She's done things before I haven't gone along with, but this. She's never been sneaky." Leslie defended Luz and trusted her:

It's not exactly sneaky, Jordan, appearing in a parade....I just know that Luz is intelligent enough not to be imposed on by him or anyone.

Bick was unable to contact Luz by phone.

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