The documentary “Return to Giant” for Marfa; James Dean’s family are guests


On June 6, 1955, a production crew from Warner Brothers descended on Marfa, Texas to shoot “Giant,” the iconic film starring James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson. The epic film is about a wealthy ranching family in Texas.

In 1996, “Return to Giant”, a documentary which captured stories about the shooting in Marfa, was released. This is the story of this summer in West Texas.

For its 25th anniversary, a special cut by the director of the documentary will be screened on June 6 at the Hotel Paisano in Marfa. Special guest will be James Dean’s cousin and executor of Dean’s estate, Marcus Winslow.

After:Actress Elsa Cárdenas cherishes the role of “Giant”

Director Kirby F. Warnock said the screening was special because it included specific historical moments.

“I don’t want to get too emotional, but this will be the closest thing James Dean has. It was the last movie he was in,” he said. “We chose June 6 because that’s the day they shot the first scenes. And it will be in the ballroom of the Paisano Hotel, where the cast and crew dined every night,” Warnock said in a phone interview.

James Dean made three films from 1955 to 1956: “East of Eden”, “Rebel Without a Cause” and “Giant”. He earned two posthumous Oscar nominations for ‘East of Eden’ and ‘Giant’.

The Paisano Hotel is located at 207 N. Highland Ave.  in Marfa, Texas.

Warnock said he made the documentary in 1996 and Warner Brothers later bought it to put on a DVD along with “Giant”. It premiered at South by Southwest and also aired on PBS. It won Best Documentary at the Lone Star Film Awards.

Warnock lives just outside of Fort Stockton.

He first heard of the film as a young boy when his parents showed him a fake building facade in Marfa.

“I was living in Mississippi when I saw the false forehead when I was 5 years old,” he said. “My father was born and raised in Fort Stockton.”

Her mother was from Mississippi, so “because marriage is a compromise,” Warnock said, the family lived in Mississippi but spent every summer and Christmas in Fort Stockton.

As an adult, he finally saw the film and was impressed by the realism of the depiction of Texas landscapes and Texans.

“People in the movie were dressed like people I knew. My grandfather wore white shirts and ties like Rock Hudson in the movie. I became fascinated by it,” he said. Warnock was able to interview residents of Marfa, some of whom have since died, for his documentary.

Warnock said the screening will be the uncut version, with an additional three minutes. The on-location documentary features never-before-seen home movies and photos on the open set. It is narrated by Texan Don Henley of the Eagles.

Winslow, who is 78, said Jimmy, as he knew him, came to live with his parents on the Indiana farm when he was a young boy. His father had moved to California for a better job and his mother died of cancer when Dean was 9 years old.

Dean became interested in theater in high school. He then moved to California with his father, who wanted him to go to school to become a lawyer, Winslow said. But Dean was interested in becoming an actor and moved to New York, where he found more work.

“He used to come here from New York for visits. And we would see him on TV. It seemed like he was on TV every week or two. And he would send my mom and dad a map on what it was going to be. ,” he said.

Winslow said when Dean came home he enjoyed visiting Fairmount High School and the theater program.

“He loved being there and he was pretty close to (the drama teacher) and saw the kids and even helped them at rehearsals,” he said.

In addition to the documentary, visitors to Marfa can also search for the Marfa Lights.  The viewing area appears.

Winslow said he never got to see him on set, but he remembers leaving school early to go see “East of Eden” with his family.

“I remember coming out of school that morning. And it was really something to see him on screen. It was like he wasn’t playing. He was as natural as possible,” said he declared.

Winslow was 11 when his cousin died in a car crash in his early twenties.

After his unfortunate death, many people started flocking to Fairmount, wanting to know more about James Dean and where he came from, he said.

“We still have a lot of people wanting to see where he’s buried and stuff like that. He’s very popular in foreign countries. They consider him the All-American, I think,” he said.

Tickets are expected to sell out for the venue, which has an occupancy of 80 people.

María Cortés González can be reached at 915-546-6150; [email protected]; @EPTMaria on Twitter.

make plans

What: Screening of “Giant Return”

When: 7 p.m. June 6

Or: Paisano Ballroom Hotel, 207 N. Highland Ave., Marfa, TX

Details: A Q&A with the filmmaker will take place after the documentary.

Cost: $20, available on


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