Rod Taylor -- billed as Rodney Taylor -- plays Sir David Karfrey, a small
role in this giant of a film.
Texan rancher Bick Benedict (Rock Hudson) visits a Maryland farm to buy
a prize horse. While there he meets and falls in love with the owner's daughter
Leslie (Elizabeth Taylor), who is engaged to Sir David Karfrey (Rod), an
English diplomat. Leslie drops David and runs off to Texas with Bick.
Leslie's younger sister, Lacey (Carolyn Craig), latches on to
David, and they get married a few years later.
The story of the Benedict family and its rivalry with Jett Rink (James
Dean) unfolds across two generations, which is about how long the movie
For your Rod Taylor fix, tune in to the first 15 minutes, then for another
15 minutes for the wedding scene about mid-way through. The opening scenes in
Virginia are exhilarating. The lush, rolling landscape and lively chatter get
the movie off to a breathless start. It's a stark contrast to the dusty, flat
expanses and darker moods of the scenes set in Texas.
Despite the brevity of Rod's role, it was a giant step for the
young actor. In addition to it being a huge motion picture featuring
big stars, Rod got to work with George Stevens, a first-rate
director who won the Oscar for his work on "Giant."
Perhaps even more valuable was the direction he gave Rod. In "Rod
Taylor: An Aussie in Hollywood," author Stephen Vagg cites an
interview in which Rod tells of the advice he received from Stevens:
I landed in Hollywood with a pretty smug
attitude. A talk I had once with George Stevens ... put me on
the right trail. He told me to respect myself as an actor, even
a bit one. And I began to see the industry in a bigger
perspective and I resolved to work my head off... He warned me
never to be impressed by the wrong values, never to compromise
if I felt I was right and to believe in what I do and be happy
about it regardless of criticism. Just the thought that such a
famous director would take the time to help me at that time was
overwhelming. And I'll try to follow his advice until I die.
Stevens in return praised Rod as "an extraordinarily talented
player" who "had a difficult part in Giant and made it outstanding."