(1956 c 198')
Based on Edna Ferber’s novel, a Texas rancher marries a woman from Maryland, and his sister leaves land to an employee who discovers oil. His wife cares about the Mexicans and so does their son.
Jordan “Bick” Benedict (Rock Hudson) gets off a train and goes in a car with Dr. Horace Lynton (Paul Fix), who points out his daughter Leslie (Elizabeth Taylor). At dinner Benedict says he came there to buy their stallion that Leslie has been riding. Benedict says he has a large ranch of 595,000 acres. After dinner Benedict tells Leslie that he likes their country. He invites her to come out and see his country. He says he is leaving early in the morning. In her room Leslie is reading about Texas, and her sister asks her if she is in love with Benedict.
In the morning Benedict buys the horse from Dr. Lynton. Leslie comes in while they are eating breakfast. She says she read about Texas all night. She says we stole Texas from Mexico. He says he never heard anything so ignorant. He asks if she heard of San Jacinto and the Alamo. She says she read about them. Leslie tells Benedict he must be spoiled by his wife. He says he has no wife but lives with his sister. Mrs. Lynton (Judith Evelyn) asks Benedict who he is going to marry, and he says he is not going to marry the woman people expected. He and Leslie talk by the horse, and they look at each other.
On the train Benedict and Leslie are sharing a berth. They look out the window, and he says that is Texas. She says she is a happy bride. Later he wakes her and says they are there. They get off the railroad car in Benedict on a windy plain. Angel Obregon gives Leslie a bouquet of flowers. They drive sixty miles on a dusty road to the mansion on the ranch. He talks to servants in Spanish. Benedict tells her she is Texas now, and she is a Benedict. Jett Rink (James Dean) sees them from a car. In the house Luz Benedict (Mercedes McCambridge) shakes Leslie’s hand. Benedict goes out and asks Jett where he is going in his car. Jett says he will cooperate. Luz introduces Jett to Benedict’s wife Leslie.
Benedict and Leslie follow Luz up the stairs. Benedict tells his sister that they are married and are taking connecting rooms. Leslie sees cowboys riding outside. She learns from Luz that Bick already ate breakfast early. Leslie says she is tougher than Luz thinks. Luz says she is going to round up neighbors for her to meet.
Outside Luz introduces Leslie to the neighbors. Bick introduces Leslie to Vashti Snythe (Jane Withers) and Mort “Pinky” Snythe (Robert Nichols). A toast is proposed for the daughter from Maryland. Vashti announces that she and Mort Snythe were married last night. Jett sits in the backseat of an expensive car. Leslie tells Bick she is not hungry, and she faints. Bick carries her.
Leslie tells Luz that she does not want to take her place, and she does not want Luz taking her place. Leslie tells Bick she is never going to faint again. She and Bick go riding. Luz does not like her riding the breeding horse. They look at the cattle. Cowboys rope and brand the calves. Bick shoots a rattlesnake, and Leslie’s horse rears up. He asks if she is all right, and they kiss. Jett drives up in the old car and drops off Luz. Bick tells Leslie to go back with him. Luz asks Bick if she runs the house. Bick tells her to cool off. He asks Luz to get along with his wife.
In the car Jett tells Leslie that everyone else is trying to get away from Texas. He tells her that they paid five cents an acre. He stops by a well and gives her water. Luz rides the new horse and gives it her spurs. Jett tells Leslie that he is not too bad, and some people like him. Leslie says he is odd, but she likes him. He says he likes her and that she is the best looking gal there. She says she will tell her husband, and he says not to do that. Luz rides the horse roughly. Jett shows Leslie a cemetery, and he says the people there are sick. She gets out and asks to go in the house. A woman in bed says the baby is sick. Leslie picks up the crying baby. The horse comes back to the main house without a rider. Leslie asks the woman if she has seen a doctor. Leslie leaves with Jett, and she asks what happened to the horse. In the house Bick asks where Leslie has been. Bick says Luz was riding War Winds. Dr. Walker tells Leslie that Luz got a concussion and is in shock. A servant calls over Dr. Walker, and he covers the dead woman’s body. Bick wishes he hadn’t bought the horse. Leslie tells him not to blame himself. Leslie asks Dr. Walker to stop by and look at the woman with a high temperature. Leslie says she will go with him. Bick says she can’t do that because he is their doctor. Bick asks Jett how she got there.
Leslie comes in the bedroom. She asks Bick where her horse is, and he says he shot it. He asks about the baby, and she says Dr. Walker saved the child’s life.
At the funeral Bick is called away. Leslie is told it is the largest funeral in Texas. A man asks Bick to give Jett much money. Jett tells Bick he is quitting. They call Jett in, and Bick tells him that Luz left him some land. Bick says he wants to keep Reata in tact. Bick offers to give Jett $1,200 instead of the land, which they say is twice the value of the land. Jett says she was a fine lady, and he thanks them for their generosity. Jett says he will gamble along with her and keep what she gave him. He says he might put a fence around her, and he walks out. Some folks says they found a gusher of oil that brings in a million dollars a month.
Jett steps off his land that has barbed wire around it. He climbs up the wind mill and sits on the platform.
In the house Uncle Brawley (Chill Wills) plays the organ and advises Leslie to get around Texas. The men talk about the election, and Leslie tells Bick she loves him. Bick says they are talking politics. She says he married her in Washington, and she grew up on politics. Bick says it is men’s stuff. Leslie asks the girls to set up her harem. Uncle Brawley offers to get her coffee. She tells the men they are like cavemen. Bick says she is tired, and she walks away. The men continue talking about the campaign.
Bick comes in the bedroom and takes off his boots. Leslie apologizes about her caveman speech. He says she insulted his friends, and he asks her to settle down and behave. She refuses, and he asks if she is Joan of Arc. He takes his stuff from the room, and she asks where he is going. She says he is stuck with her. She says he loves her. He says her fine mind gets repulsive at times. She says he can be wonderful. She invites him to come to bed.
In the morning Leslie says it is a beautiful day. Bick says the arguing took a lot out of him. She says they make up, and they kiss. She asks if they can take a trip. He says he runs the Reata ranch all the time. She asks if that includes her. He says he will keep it together for his son. She says he should hope her baby is a boy. He says it will be a boy like his father.
Bick holds the baby girl while Leslie says the boy gains weight faster. Leslie’s parents read a letter from her. At the Biendecito village she walks with a doctor. She asks to speak to Mr. Gomez and tells him that Dr. Guerra will advise him how to improve the place which is a scandal. Jett drinks water from his well, sees Leslie in a car, and fires his rifle. She stops and asks how he is. She says he has made improvements. She is surprised at his talent as they go in his house. She sees a newspaper clipping of her wedding and books on self-improvement. He says she looks prettier. He makes tea for her. He pours himself a drink in the kitchen. Then he sits down with her. She asks when he is going to get married. He says he will look around and go back east. He asks if anyone wants a poor person. She asks why the others don’t help themselves like he does. He tells her not to get mixed up with wetbacks. She says Jett is like Bick in his attitude. She thanks Jett and walks away, stepping in mud.
Leslie comes in, and Bick says that Gomez called. Bick tells her not to interfere with those people. She asks him to do something. He warns her not to go there again. Mexican servants come in with the twin babies. Jett finds oil in the mud.
The twins are walking, and they look at the baby Luz. Bick and others celebrate their birthdays. Bick gives his son a pony, but he cries. Bick tells Angel to take him around. Leslie says he does not want to ride. Bick says he is a Benedict and must ride. Young Angel rides the pony. Bick takes his son on his horse and rides back and forth. The boy cries, and Leslie carries him in the house.
Uncle Brawley tells Leslie that Bick does not know how to raise kids. He advises her to let the kids be what they want to be. Others say goodnight and go upstairs, leaving Leslie alone with Bick by a fire. She says they are getting on each other’s nerves. She suggests that she take the children home for a visit. He says all right, and she says it will be better for them to be apart for a while.
Leslie and her three children take a train. Leslie with her father sees David Karfrey (Rod Taylor) riding with his girlfriend Lacey. The children feed a turkey that is served for dinner. Dr. Lynton prays. The three children cry because they loved the turkey. Leslie tries to console them. Leslie opens a letter from Bick that she reads to their children. Then they cry more. Bick is alone with a turkey dinner.
Bick arrives in Maryland for the wedding of David and Lacey. Bick stands behind Leslie, and she turns around and sees him. After the ceremony they embrace. Leslie says she is no different than before; but he says Texans like vinegar in their greens.
Jett works on his oil well and drinks liquor. Bick sees Jett’s truck and says he does not want him coming through there. Men tell him he got an easement and has the right. Bick tells Ollie to buy him out. The well gushes oil, and it gets on Jett. He drives his old truck to Bick’s house and tells him his well came in. Jett tells Bick he is rich. Bick tells Leslie to go in the house with the women. Jett says she is pretty, and Bick slugs him. Jett hits Bick and leaves in the truck. Uncle Brawley says Jett is now too rich to kill.
Jett gets more oil wells and pumps. On the phone Bick says he won’t have oil rigs on his land. From his gate Bick looks at Jett’s oil tankers drive by.
Years later Luz Benedict II (Carroll Baker) says that Luz was in love with Jett. Bick asks Luz where she is going and tells her to stay home.
Judy comes into Bick’s bedroom and says she was with Bob (Earl Holliman). Bick tells her he is not too busy for her. Jordan Benedict III (Dennis Hopper) tells Leslie that he wants to go to Harvard and then Columbia pre-med. She asks him about taking over Reata, but he says others can do it better than he. Luz asks Bick to talk to Leslie to soften the blow. Leslie tells Jordan III that she will talk to Bick. In their bedroom Leslie asks Bick if they love their children too much. She asks if he would sacrifice for them, and he says he would. He says Luz is not eager to go to a girls school in Switzerland. He says she wants to go to Texas Tech for animal husbandry. He laughs and says she wants to be a rancher. He says he is willing to sacrifice. Leslie turns out her lamp and tells him that Jordan wants to be a doctor. Bick says he will do as they have all done. She asks him to sacrifice. He says it does not matter where he goes to school. Leslie says they are getting old.
Jett consults his lawyers and keeps pumping oil. Jett drives his luxury car into another car and hits the man. Uncle Brawley reads that Jett has donated a hospital, and he asks what he is covering up now. Luz gets a call from Jett, and Bick tells him his ranch is for cattle, not oil. Luz asks if they can have one oil well so she can have her own private phone.
In a car Bob is kissing Judy Benedict, and the radio reports the attack on Pearl Harbor. They go up to her bedroom. While others are celebrating Christmas, they come down the stairs. People realize they are married and congratulate them. Angel (Sal Mineo) comes in wearing a military uniform, and Leslie welcomes him. Dr. Guerra is welcomed by Jordan, and he meets Juana, who has been trained in medicine. Drunk Bick drinks a toast to his sons Jordan and Robert. Jordan advises his dad to go easy on the bourbon. Jordan says he will not run the ranch but will finish medical school. He says he is going to work with Dr. Guerra in Biendecito. Bob asks Bick if he makes the liquor. Bick tells Bob he is a ranchman, but Bob shows him his induction notice from President Roosevelt. Bick tells him the job will be waiting for him. Judy says they want their own little place for experimentation. Luz answers the door and lets Jett in. She gives him a Christmas stocking. Bick asks him to sit down. Jett says he wants to talk business, and Bick tells Luz to run along. Jett says the country needs petroleum. Bick says he is ready to talk business.
Bick says that all the oil has not changed the place. Luz is swimming in the pool. The men are glad about the oil tax exemption. Leslie asks for tax exemption for her father who saved people’s lives.
A priest performs a wedding for Jordan and Juana. In the evening they go to a dance at Reata by the pool. Jordan tells Leslie, and she embraces Juana. Jordan tells his father. They walk to the microphone, and Jordan introduces his wife.
A casket with the body of Angel is brought home. Leslie tells Bick he was the first baby at Reata she saw. The funeral is in Spanish. A soldier gives an American flag to his mother. A choir sings the “Star Spangled Banner.” In the house Judy holds her baby.
Luz tells her mother that she is going to the opening of Jett’s airport. She tells Leslie that Jett likes her. The men talk about Jett’s coming speech at a gathering of the rich. Bick says they are oil rich too, and they will go. They fly there in a plane. At the airport they see a parade of bands. Jett is riding in a car, and Bick calls him the emperor. Luz is riding in a car as the queen. Bick is upset and asks Leslie what it is.
In the their hotel room Bick tells Leslie it was sneaky. He calls Luz and leaves a message. At a table Jett tells Luz he will not open up that place. Luz says she would like a hotel, and he says he will give her whatever she wants. She asks for a coke, and he says they are taboo. She says he likes things his way. She says she does not get her way. He suggests she get married. He takes off his dark glasses and says she could be the head lady. She asks if he is proposing. He says he has been looking for a girl like her. She suggests he not drink too much and says she will see him later. Jett walks out into a storm.
Jordan and Juana arrive, and a policeman stops Juana until Jordan says she is his wife. Juana calls for an appointment at a beauty parlor. In their room Bick asks Leslie why their children did not come with them. Juana goes to the beauty parlor, and they tell her they are busy. Leslie quarrels with Bick and says she did not want to come. He says she is cute when she is angry. They kiss, and Jordan comes in with his child. Bob and Judy come in and check on their child. Juana sees another woman served and calls Jordan. He says he is coming.
Jett is standing in the rain, and an advisor tells him to get dressed. Jordan goes in the beauty parlor, and the women tell him their orders. He sees “JR” on the mirror and smashes it with a bottle. Luz arrives at the party, and Bick asks to talk with her. They hear thunder, and wind comes in the window. Jett goes over his speech. Jordan asks where Rink is. Bick sits at a head table in the banquet room. Jett comes in, and the band plays “The Eyes of Texas.” Jordan tells Jett that his wife was insulted. Two men hold Jordan, and Jett slugs him twice. Bick asks Jett if he wants to go outside, and they walk out a door. Senator Whiteside is introduced, and he begins speaking.
Bick and Jett go into a supply room alone. Bick says he is not worth hitting and that he is all through. Bick throws a basket that causes walls of shelves to fall over. He goes back to Leslie in the banquet room, and she gets Luz. Jett drinks from a bottle and walks in the door and up to the front as the Senator introduces him. Jett passes out with his head on the table.
In the hotel Jordan gets a call and says he has to go to Biendecito. Bick suggests he fly in the morning. Bick says Jordan has always had a mind of his own. Bick says how he told Jordan he was asking for trouble. Jordan says they are doing fine; he does not care about Jett Rink. Bick argues with him and says he is a fair man. Jordan says Bick is upset because his son got knocked flat before people. Luz says that she is ashamed. She wants to apologize to him. They learn that Jett passed out because he was drunk. Luz calls Jett’s penthouse, and Leslie tells her not to go there. Luz says she must and goes.
Jett is left alone in the banquet hall and mumbles part of his speech. Luz sees him from a door. Jett starts talking about beautiful Leslie Benedict, the woman he really wanted. Jett knocks over the head table.
In a car Bick, Leslie, Luz, and Juana sing as the plane flies over. Bick says he is going to sell his plane. Bick suggests they stop at a drive-in to eat. Juana carries her baby, and they sit in a booth. They order chicken and ice cream. The waiter says he thought the kid would want a tamale. Bick says this is the life. A Mexican family comes in, but the waiter tells them to get out. He starts to escort the man out, but Bick asks him to be more polite. He says he is Bick Benedict, his neighbor. The waiter asks if the papoose is named Benedict too. Bick says it is. The waiter says the Mexicans have to go. Bick hits the waiter, and they fight each other. They beat each other until Leslie makes Bick stay down. A sign says “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.”
At home Leslie tells Bick he is a gentle creature. Leslie gets a call from Vashti. Leslie says Luz went to Hollywood. Leslie says you can raise them but cannot live their lives for them. She says they are minding the babies. Uncle Brawley comes in and asks Bick to open the bar. Bick says okay but warns that the bourbon may kill him. Leslie tells Bick she belongs there. Bick says that his grandson is a muchacho. Bick says he is a failure because nothing turned out like he planned. Leslie says he is great. She says he was greatest when he landed on the floor in the diner. Leslie says that after a century the Benedicts are a success. He says he will never figure her out.
This epic drama portrays a wealthy family in Texas that become much wealthier from oil. In contrast their servants are Mexicans, and they lack proper health care. The wife from Maryland brings her liberal values and teaches them to her son who becomes a doctor who wants to help the immigrants. Even the father comes to realize new values because of the influence of his wife and children.