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Sunday March 3rd 2024

Giant | 1956

Edna Ferber’s Texas-set family saga lives up to its name with a massive George Stevens production. The studio filming on, what turned out to be, James Dean’s final movie was at Warner Bros’ Burbank Studios, but the Texas landscapes were filmed around Marfa, a tiny town on I-90 in the West Texas desert between El Paso and Del Rio.

Here the ‘Reata’ ranch house set stood, until most of it crumbled away in the Eighties, on the Ryan Ranch, 17 miles west of Marfa, fronting along I-90 on the south side. The land is private property, but the scaffolding skeleton could be seen on the left on the road toward Valentine.

'Little Reata' could also be seen a few miles west of Marfa, on the right of I-90.

Robert Altman’s 1982 film Come Back To The 5 And Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean featured a group of Deanophiles in the (fictitious) nearby town of ‘McCarthy’ who collect bits of the old set, and in Kevin Reynolds’ 1985 Fandango, Kevin Costner and his chums visit its crumbling remains.

The historic El Paisano Hotel, 207 Highland Street, in Marfa, which was used as headquarters for the cast and crew, houses a lobby display of signed photos and memorabilia from the production.

In 2006, both Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood and the Coen Brothers' No Country For Old Men were filmed in the Marfa area.

If you’re visiting the town, you’ll doubtless want to investigate Marfa’s other claim to fame – the Marfa Mystery Lights, unexplained nighttime twinklings which have been seen for over 100 years between Marfa and the Paisano Pass as you face the Chinati Mountains. Presidio County has built a viewing station on Route 67, nine miles east of the town. Naturally, enthusiasts gather annually for the Marfa Lights Festival.

Marfa is a good jumping-off point to explore the spectacular Big Bend National Park, and about 50 miles east of Marfa, on I-90, is the Marathon Motel, featured in Paris, Texas.