Not really apropos of anything 909, but over the weekend I watched “Giant,” the enormously long 1956 movie that’s one of only three with James Dean. He plays a Texas ranch hand who ends up a rich oilman and, by contrast to his “you’re tearing me apart” angst in “Rebel Without a Cause,” gives what I would call a comic performance.
He wears a cowboy hat tilted forward at a 90-degree angle, walks funny, mumbles, plays with a length of rope, drops a waterbag for no particular reason while hanging it on a nail and crosses his legs with deliberation. Making tea for Elizabeth Taylor, he puts down her saucer, then his, then her cup, then his, then adjusts the placement of her cup, pauses, almost adjusts it again, then withdraws.
It’s a mannered, attention-getting performance, but it’s hysterical. Dean reminded me of Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow, who steals every scene he’s in. Depp’s mannerisms defied you not to watch his every move, and so did Dean’s in “Giant.”
“Giant” could have used Jim Backus in an apron, though.