Veteran Takes on Father's <I>Giant</I>1 May, 2003 By: Jessica Wolf
Award-winning producer-director-writer George Stevens Jr. knows a little something about preserving Hollywood classics. As founding director of the American Film Institute, he is partially responsible for saving some 14,000 films from loss or destruction by gathering them into the AFI Collection at the Library of Congress.
He knows even more about preserving Giant, the 1956 sweeping epic that earned his late father, George Stevens, an Academy Award for best director.
“It's a kind of time warp for me, because I've been involved in Giant one way or another since the year I graduated from college,” Stevens told Video Store Magazine.
Stevens worked as a production assistant on the massive project -- the saga of a Texas family of ranchers and oilmen based on the best-selling book by Edna Ferber and starring Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, Dennis Hopper and James Dean in his final film role.
Included on Warner's special edition DVD for Giant is commentary from Stevens Jr., screenwriter Ivan Moffat and film critic Stephen Farber. Stars, filmmakers and Texans who took part in the location shooting appear in a vintage featurette on the disc, “Return to Giant,” and the special edition also includes a documentary Stevens Jr. produced about his father. Hollywood legends like Warren Beatty, John Huston and Frank Capra are part of the documentary.
“My father inspired me, but I also found he inspired a lot of other directors,” he said. “You would see from these other directors that they had a respect for his integrity and his determination to not lose control of the films he made.”
Stevens worked closely with Warner to develop the special content for the Giant DVD.
“Because of the fact that my father chose to take no salary and to be a co-owner of the negative of Giant with Warner Bros., the studio and I have been partners in the film since my father passed away many years ago,” Stevens said.
The film boasts an all-new digital transfer and new audio elements. Other extras include production notes, a vintage New York premiere TV special, two “Warner Bros. Presents” behind-the-cameras featurettes, photo and document galleries and an introduction from Stevens Jr.
“People pay a lot of money for these DVDs, and they deserve to get a lot of value, so we said, ‘let's put the most possible value on this DVD and let's make it up to the same value as the movie itself.’
Giant garnered 10 Academy Award nominations and was the most successful film in Warner's history until Superman came out in 1978. Stevens said he thinks his father would approve of the Giant special edition and of DVD in general for the longevity and collectability it offers film lovers.
Stevens said his father once said of another of his Oscar winners, A Place in the Sun, “‘We'll have a better idea of what kind of picture this is in about 25 years.' He had this sense that if you make something with care and of real quality, it would stand the test of time. And Giant is, I guess, a supreme example of that.”