Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Two Doors Down From Jimmy

March 11, 2012 
"I know that land ain't worth much. But then someday, I just might up and put my own fence around her and call her Little Reata." -James Dean as Jett Rink, Giant

There it is, Jett Rink’s ‘Little Reata’. Well, what’s left of it.

The Ballroom of the Hotel Paisano, where cast & crew would watch their dailies. There are scuff marks all over the wood floor, perhaps one or two of them belong to James Dean...

When my husband took me to Marfa, Texas to celebrate our 5th Wedding Anniversary, I thought I would be most excited about staying at the Hotel Paisano. This beautifully restored 1930′s hotel is where the cast (including James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, and Rock Hudson) stayed during the filming of the 1956 movie Giant. Staying there was a dream come true, I’m a big fan of old movies and an even bigger James Dean fan, so it was pretty surreal. Our room was only 2 doors down from where he stayed. It was amazing.
But the feeling I got when we drove up on Little Reata was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. Sounds silly, but just knowing he had been there gives you sort of a rush. Yes, he was there at the hotel too, but his moments at Little Reata were captured on film in one of my favorite movies, so it seemed even more special.
Little Reata is located a few miles outside of Marfa on private property, surrounded by a barbed wire fence. I noticed a place where the fence was up a good two feet off the ground, and it’s apparent that some pretty die hard Dean fans have crawled underneath there. Had I been a bit braver I might have tried!

What little is left of it is the good stuff. The entryway, and the iconic windmill.
Yes, the windmill still stands.
I wonder how much longer Jett Rink's windmill will stand up to the harsh desert weather
Can’t you just see Jimmy sitting up there?
No? Let me help you…

I really wanted to climb it, but unfortunately I don’t think it could even withstand a sneeze.
So there it is, in all that’s left of it’s glory.
Little Reata
It was hard to walk away from there, into the waiting vehicle parked next to the highway. But alas, we had another location to find. We had discovered Little Reata, now it was time to hunt out Reata Ranch.
My husband was a great sport. He is not the old movie/James Dean fan that I am, but he was the one who suggested we go to Marfa. He even let me play the Giant theme song as we drove out of town to find the old movie sets.
Stop laughing. It was a miraculous moment for me… =)
Sadly, seeing what remains of Reata Ranch was not so miraculous. The ranch house seen on film was only a facade made of wood and plaster used only for exterior scenes. Today it’s a skeleton of what it once was. It is also located on private property, and very hard to see from the highway. We actually missed it the first time and had to turn around and go back. We finally found it, but the picture is not impressive. (There are some great pictures online from very close up, if you feel like searching.)

Can you believe it? It actually made me really sad. I can’t believe that used to look like this:

After a few hours of scouring the desert landscape for old movie sets, it was time to head home. As we were leaving the hotel, we noticed the door to James Dean’s room was open. I snapped this photo from the stair way:
James Dean's room, 223
  We had a wonderful time and a great anniversary, I won’t ever forget the time we stayed two doors down from Jimmy!

Check out Jessica's Blog! Jessica Ontiveros

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