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29 December 2008

Film Decor: Giant

Last spring, I attended a symposium at the Museum of the City of New York on great New York residences. The charismatic Mitchell Owens spoke on Mame Dennis' Beekman Place townhouse and its numerous redecorations which reflected the latest fashions from the Great Depression through World World II.

Similarly, "Reata", the Benedict Ranch, in the 1956 epic Giant mirrored the changing social values and tastes of the Texan elite.


Reata as it is when Leslie (Elizabeth Taylor) comes to live as Bick's (Rock Hudson) new bride. High Victoriana, with red flocked wallpaper, leather upholstery, and heavily carved Eastlake style furniture. It must have been quite a shock for Leslie after the gracious Georgian-style house in Virginia she grew up in. The decor changes little until after Bick's commandeering sister Luz dies from a nasty accident and Leslie gives birth, firmly sealing her position as chatelaine. Circa 1920s, but its 19th century era decoration hints at Texas' provincialism at this time.


Bick's office or Man Cave. This room changes little throughout the film - which fittingly reflects Bick's traditional ways and reluctance to change.


Leslie's bedroom which connects to Bick's. More of the same dark, heavy furniture.


Leslie recreates her Virginia home with chintz, cream woodwork, and Georgian furniture.


Leslie and Bick's bedroom, now with twin beds.


Reata gets the Hollywood treatment with a very Billy Haines vibe. White on white, touches of Chinoiserie, wall to wall carpeting, and low slung mod seat furniture. Love the cattleman at the white piano with the mirrored obelisks - so incongruous!


Another view of the living room. Don't miss the great white and black stone floor of the entrance hall in the background.


Leslie and Bick's bedroom.

This is actually not Reata, but a suite at the ultra-glam Emperador Hotel which was based on the Shamrock Hotel in Houston. Had to include it for the lacquer Carlton House desk and the fantastic tufted sofas - calling Jonathan Adler! Bick is looking worse for wear as he comes to terms with the waning of the Rancher and the new dominance of the Oil Man in Texas.

7 comments:

jds223 said...

I used to swim at the Shamrock. I have a watercolor of it that's in the garage. You've inspired me to put it somewhere. Great post. I loved that movie.

jds223 said...

That secretary is amazing!

Emily Evans Eerdmans said...

Jill - swimming at the Shamrock sounds so glam, like Pamela Harriman taking her morning swim at the Paris Ritz. EEE

soodie :: said...

I have not seen this movie in so long. I will rent it again after reading your post. One of my New Year's resolutions is less stressing and have some down time, so I should be heading to the video store this weekend. Excellent post. Thank you!

Style Court said...

Emily -- I've always wanted to post on this film but never had the right images. So glad you did!

The transformation really does encapsulate the 20th century. And the wallpaper in her parents' entry is splendid too :)

Emily Evans Eerdmans said...

Courtney - what a memory you have! Yes, that wallpaper in the entrance is to die for! EEE

Chris said...

Excellent post!