In 1956, one of the most iconic American western films was shot in Marfa, Texas…”Giant.” There’s not much left of the set today, but in 2018, artist John Cerney made huge outdoor murals on plywood of the movie’s stars. James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor are the feature murals off highway 90 on the Wyatt Ranch, along with the famous Benedict house and the yellow convertible from the film in the backdrop.
The movie was based off the bestselling novel by Edna Ferber, released in 1952. It would go down as a classic in cinematic history, and it put Marfa on the map. The film follows a married couple who move to Texas for the oil industry and the drama the ensues. “Giant” encapsulates Texas in the 1950s and was nominated for 10 academy awards. It was also entered into the States National Film Registry who stated the film was, “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.”
Photo: @towniefilms via Twenty20
“Giant” is one of the main reasons people visit Marfa. Cerney’s murals are standing tall as a reminder of the legends who once walked the land. Marfa is an attraction for artists and travelers, as well as historians. The movie depicted many political and social issues of the time. Marfa has gone on to be the filming location for other notable movies, such as “No Country for Old Men” and “There Will be Blood.” What’s your favorite movie filmed in Marfa?
Cerney’s largest mural is of James Dean. Dean was killed in a motorist accident before the film’s release and ever since he has been held in the public’s eye as a legend and poster boy for the golden age of Hollywood. His mural in Marfa attracts many tourists today and it’s included in a PBS special on Marfa and Architectural Digest.
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