One of my many disappointments in recently reseeing Giant (1956), George Stevens’ blunderbuss effort to preach tolerance to some of the more biased Republicans, is that the once-memorable and semi-audacious use of “The Yellow Rose of Texas” over the final credits — a very significant reprise of a song that plays over a climactic fistfight provoked by anti-Mexican behavior in the movie’s penultimate sequence — is no longer part of the movie on the DVD, presumably because the owners of the song rights demanded too much money. So one of the few facets of this overblown blockbuster that seemed slightly progressive in the mid-50s has been deleted.
Apart from this change, there’s a curious double standard in the way this movie regards prejudice against Mexicans. When it’s displayed throughout much of the film by the Texas patriarch hero, played by Rock Hudson, it may be lamentable and hypocritical but it’s also ultimately forgiveable and redeemable — especially once he rises to the defense of a Mexican family refused service in a diner in the aforementioned fisticuffs. But when the movie’s white-trash villain (James Dean) — a working- class malcontent and crybaby alcoholic who becomes a zillionaire after striking oil on his property — displays the same bias, it’s not only beyond redemption; it even incurs the Wrath of God, Who dramatically whips up a raging thunderstorm to express His indignant rage when this pathetic hick who refuses to stick to his own class also bars Mexicans from attending the festivities at the opening of an airport. Apparently race and ethnic prejudice is less serious a crime than presuming to cross class barriers. [9/2/08]