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Dallas filmmaker and journalist Kirby Warnock's doc Return to Giant, about the making of George Stevens's Texas-sized '56 epic with Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean, is available on the double-disc DVD collection issued in 2005. Only: Not really. Because, you see, when Warner Bros. issued the disc, it used an abbreviated version of the doc that originally aired on KERA-Channel 13 in 1996 and about which The New York Times said a year later, "The result is a surprisingly haunting slice of Americana."
"George Stevens Jr. wanted to cut it down," Warnock tells Unfair Park. "There were too many interviews with Marfa locals, he felt, so he had us cut out several interviews. And he had the right to do that, but I also felt like the interviews with the locals were the most fun. They were real people. They weren't trying to get a job in Hollywood, so they said what they wanted to."
The original doc, narrated by Don Henley, will make its one-night-only return July 29 to the Texas Theatre as a fund-raiser for the Oak Cliff Foundation, which is trying to restore the place piece by piece, penny by penny. The return of Return to Giant is but the latest addition to the Texas Theatre's ever-growing schedule of screenings rendering the Oak Cliff landmark Dallas's best -- and only -- revival-house theater. Tonight, for instance, the Texas will screen Mario Bava's '68 spy-camp classic Danger: Diabolik; and, at month's end, Harmony Korine's Trash Humpers -- which our own J. Hoberman called "a spectacle to be watched in a wino stupor" -- makes its at-long-last Dallas debut.
Warnock's thrilled to be added to the schedule -- after all, the film as it was intended to be seen hasn't been screened in close to 15 years, and it was a personal piece of work based upon a childhood spent in the Big Bend hearing stories about when James Dean and Liz Taylor came to town. "And it was my first film," he says. "Either God really was looking out for fools and drunks, or I got struck by lighting. Either way, it ruined me."