A Tale of Two Thanksgiving Scenes

There are a couple of memorable Thanksgiving scenes in Giant (1958). This is the big budget film adaptation of Edna Ferber's novel about a young couple from two different states who have two different opinions on almost everything.

Usually Thanksgiving movie scenes involve having the entire family gathered together in one house, eating and being merry. Giant turns that notion on its head by making its two Thanksgiving scenes about a family broken.
Leslie (Elizabeth Taylor) wants to leave her husband Jordan (Rock Hudson), because she believes they are incompatible- he is a traditionalist from the Lone Star state and she's more liberal and from the East.

Leslie leaves, citing Thanksgiving with her parents as an excuse. She takes the children with her. What follows are two of the saddest Thanksgiving scenes on film.

Jordan just sits there in front of his Texas-sized turkey, by himself at home, at a long empty table, not eating. The towering dark walls, sparsely decorated table and heavy wood engulf him, making this tall man seem tiny. He's almost hidden behind the dead bird.

He doesn't say anything but you get it;  Jordan misses his family.

Leslie misses her husband, but will not admit it.  The two are both stubborn.

Since the parents do not express the pain of separation in tears or in any other way, the movie gives their children something to cry about.

The children love the pet in their grandparents' backyard. They feed him and name him Pedro. There's a convivial atmosphere in the East. It will soon be interrupted.

On Thanksgiving Day,  the children get the shock of their lives when Pedro is served baked on a platter for dinner. Their loud cries over the dead bird  are, of course, a substitute for the tears their parents have not shed over a possibly "dead" marriage.

Having the family split during this holiday makes the suffering more pronounced for the characters than if this was just a regular day of the year. This ratchets up the tension. We've seen how well Leslie and Jordan get along when they choose to do so; we want this marriage to succeed. But will they reunite? What's the conclusion?

You won't know for several agonizing minutes. It's gut-wrenching, and, like the kids, you just want to cry.

May your family live in unity and may your grandparents never carve up your pet for the holidays.

Happy Thanksgiving


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"Java's Journey: A really fun, informative well-written blog that explores all of the things - and I mean all - I love about classic films."-- Flick Chick of A Person In The Dark Email: java-rush@hotmail.com


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