Sunday, May 2, 2010

Deconstructing Rock Hudson: Giant Issues on the set of 1956's "Giant" with James Dean (part five in series)

For Hudson, the movie Giant was supposed to be his clincher role to prove to critics that he was a credible actor as well as an A-list movie star. Part 4 of this series looked at the mainstream straight version of what went wrong during filming on Giant. Here in Part 5, VGMH adds the unconfirmed sexually-related gossip, speculation, and stories...many of which have lasted as long as the movie itself:

Rebel Without a Cause had wrapped up filming in Hollywood before Giant began in Texas.  Rebel depicted gay affections and desires between the James Dean and Sal Mineo roles. Dean encouraged Mineo to express his sexual feelings toward him during the filming, in an attempt to add more depth and realism to the characters.  It was also believed by many that a relationship developed between the two off-screen, but the rumor was never substantiated. Yet, there was no doubt that there was chemistry between the two actors on screen, and Dean seemed to make certain that Mineo would be with him on his next two movies...which included Sal going to Texas to film Giant. 

During the making of Giant, Sal (photo, left) acted in only a few scenes (playing Angel Obregon II), most of which ended up on the cutting room floor.  However, his disappointment with being cut out of most of the movie ended when he delightedly signed a contract to star in another film with James Dean called Somebody Up There Likes Me (in real life, James would die first before making Somebody Up There Likes Me).

It's reported that Dean was late in arriving to film Giant on location, which had been pre-approved.  Could Sal Mineo have talked with Dean and told him about the gossip between Hudson and Taylor, about who would get him to screw them first, along with suggestions on the set about his relationship with Mineo?  If so, then Dean would have a pretty good reason to have arrived on the set already with a chip on his shoulder about his co-stars.

It was already no secret in Hollywood that Hudson was gay, but for Dean, speculation about his sexuality was a hot topic once he filmed Rebel Without A Cause. Was he a straight hustler who had sex with men to advance his career? Was he a gay man like Hudson? Was he bisexual? What about Sal? Given this setting, it can easily be seen how talk could get out of hand.  Add that unlike Rebel, Giant was filmed with an "open set" policy with the press everywhere. 
Adding insult may have been the fact that Hudson (photo, above), another man, and Dean were forced by the studio to share a house together while on location.  It was a situation where the press and Hollywood already knew Hudson was a gay man who liked to party with a lot of younger men, and where Dean's sexuality and rumors about him were just begining to spread like wildfire after Rebel Without a Cause.  

It must have felt like a media circus with sex being in the center ring of attention (although nobody talked about it very openly).  Hudson and Taylor were betting who would have sex with him first, Sal was on the set, the press was everywhere, and to top things off, MGM was forcing these men to live together in a house in Texas.   When a reporter told Dean that she had come all the way from New York just to talk to him, his reply to her was reportedly:  "And I, madame, have come all this way just to act."

Various stories about the two men living together exist, including the negative account by Rock Huson himself in part 4 of this series.  One rumor suggested that Dean allowed Hudson (who was very accustomed to cruising men and getting them) to cruise him in their residence, only to then both humiliate and reject his advances.  VGMH doesn't think this holds much water. 

In the end, unlike Husdon, Dean mainly kept his complaints voiced to the studio and the film's director.  Most movie historians agree that for Dean, the making of Giant was a lesson in old Hollywood establishment that he didn't enjoy.  But he also drove away knowing that he had stole the movie...and Hudson knew it, too.   Said Hudson:

"While doing a scene, in the giving and taking, he [Dean] was just a taker.  He would suck everything out and never give back."

On September 30, 1955, several weeks following the completion of Giant, James Dean was driving his new Porsche 550 Spyder to an auto rally in Salinas, California when the fatal accident occurred.  Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and Giant (1956) were released after Dean's death.

Hudson’s ex-wife Phillis Gates claimed that Hudson cried after hearing the news of Dean’s death. Gates has also said in the past that, “Rock couldn’t be reached. He was overcome by guilt and shame, almost as though he himself had killed James Dean."

Please note:  This long and detailed series on the life of Rock Hudson will continue with the next segment planned for early summer.

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