Saturday, June 8, 2013

Leslie Lynnton Benedict's House

Are you acquainted with Mrs. Benedict? Mrs. Jordan Benedict? Of the Reata Ranch in Texas? Heroine of Edna Ferber's novel Giant?

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Yes, they made a movie of Giant in 1956 and it is a magnificent film starring Elizabeth Taylor as Leslie Lynnton Benedict, and Rock Hudson as Jordan (Bick) Benedict.

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Some critics claim the movie is better than the book. Pooh! Some critics just don't like Ferber's writing. Who cares what critics say? Pulitzer Prize-winner Edna Ferber cried all the way to the bank.

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The film is one of my favorites and another actor, James Dean who played Jett Rink, gave the performance of his much too short life in it. But Ferber's book is the masterpiece. Much of both the movie and the book takes place in Texas at the cattle ranch called Reata, in an imposing but charmless ranch house run by the sister-in-law from hell, Luz Benedict. Thank heaven she goes on to her reward pretty quickly and leaves her brother Bick Benedict and his bride Leslie alone, or alone with the hordes of fellow Texans that seem to consider Reata their home away from home.

Mr. and Mrs. Jordan Benedict are a stunning couple, aren't they? The Hollywood version anyway?

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But let's not talk about Reata. Instead, let's talk about the charming home Leslie left behind in Virginia when she married Jordan. I know, the movie says it's in Maryland but Edna Ferber placed it in Virginia and that's good enough for me.

Bick Benedick went to Dr. Horace Lynnton's house to buy a horse by the name of My Mistake. He left not too long afterwards with the horse and with the filly named Leslie, one of Dr. Lynnton's three daughters. Don't believe it when the movie says there were two daughters or that Leslie and Jordan had three children, or that the horse's name was War Winds. But if Hollywood can make believe they had three children, then I can make believe that the house below is the house Ms. Ferber had the Lynntons reside in.

 I'll let Ferber's own words describe the house.

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"Though there was only a physician's income behind it,
profusion was characteristic of the Lynnton menage.

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"Horses in the weathered stables;

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"the most delicate and savory of American cooking in the kitchen...
Sweet-scented flowers in the rambling garden...

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"The two men entered the house...

[Emyl Jenkins' Southern Hospitality,
photographs by Walter Smalling, Jr.]
"They peered into the big living room.
Here was a feminine world, all crystal and flowers and faded yellow satin curtains.
Bits of jade. The ruby glow of Bohemian glass.

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"Stuck, he [Bick] thought as he entered his room, but then instantly
there came over him a sensation very strange--
a mingling of peace and exhilaration.
A large square high-ceilinged room, cool, quiet, Chintz curtains,
flowers in a vase, a fire in the fireplace,
a bathroom to himself,
shaving things and sweet-smelling stuff in bottles in the bathroom,
and big thick soft towels.

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"Breakfast at the Lynntons' was a pleasant thing...
A noble old room, high-ceilinged, many-windowed...

[Emyl Jenkins' Southern Hospitality,
photographs by Walter Smalling, Jr.]

"A brilliant bay at the south end led to a terrace and the haphazard garden.
Inside shone mahogany and silver and crystal.

[Emyl Jenkins' Southern Hospitality,
photographs by Walter Smalling, Jr.]
"Bick Benedict, entering the room rather diffidently,
noted that the napkins were neatly darned,
the flower-patterned carpet threadbare.
It's the luxuries that matter, Leslie had said.
Who cares about the necessities."

[from Edna Ferber's Giant]

And where was Leslie Lynnton when Jordan came down to breakfast? She had been upstairs in her own bedroom...

[ashandbelle.com]


Awake half the night reading every book in her father's library that she could find about Texas. She came down to breakfast to join Jordan Benedict and argue with him until he was so exasperated that...

Well, before Jordan could catch a deep breath they were aboard a train, on their way to Reata and Texas where Leslie Lynnton Benedict had a giant job ahead of her adapting to Texas, and Texas to her. I assume that before they left Virginia they stopped here first...

[churchesofvirginia.org on Pinterest]

Have you read the book? Seen the movie? Which did you prefer?

While the book gets my vote, I've got to have them both. The movie makes me wish I were a Texan while the book persuades me that Leslie Lynnton Benedict stayed in Texas because she was deeply in love with Jordan. And if there's anything I love better than houses, even a charming Virginia house, it's a good love story.






















16 comments:

  1. I never read the book, Dewena, but I have seen the movie several times. You paid wonderful homage to the book with your series of pictures to match the descriptions given. What a fun post. I love those old movies AND books. xo Diana

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  2. Dewena thank you for sharing....I will get that book to add for my summer reading list! It is simply lovely to read about your fondness of the book and movie.
    Once again thank you for stopping by at my place a couple of days ago I had fun writing about my sister and the crayons....also had when I was at my sisters and while the kids and I were recycling the crayons!!!! Family is the backbone and I see you too have a lovely family as well!!!! Enjoy the weekend!!!!

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  3. I have not seen the movie or read the book. But I vote for reading the book every time. Then I can savor it at my leisure.
    Brenda

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  4. I remember the book and other Edna Ferber books. I read this one and others by Ferber. I also remember the movie. I saw it at theaters when I was 13 and I saw it on TV once or twice. For some reason, the movie is difficult for me to watch. I usually pass it up, if I see it in the listings.

    As always, I prefer the book.

    Wonderful post, Dewena.

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  5. I've never read the book, but I loved the movie...one of my all-time favorites. Did you think that the movie was a fair adaptation of the book?

    This is a beautiful post! LOVE it! You should link it to Literary Friday!

    xo,
    RJ

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  6. Trying to get caught up today....I haven't seen the movie in many, many years...and I like Edna Ferber, but never read the novel behind the book. Now maybe I'll look for it this week at the library!

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  7. how beautiful this post is! how lovely you've either aged or found vintage colored photos to take us into the pages or back on the screen. loved both.
    i've read and enjoyed most all of her books. cimarron ... the story of the settling of Oklahoma... and i liked the one about alaska too! but it's been ages since I've read any of them! who could forget the calf brains at the picnic and leslie fainting... and the terrible luz.
    texas is not just a state... it's another country! you feel it the minute you cross the border and you do not forget that!
    thank you for another trip out of my everyday life! XOXO dear friend!

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  8. I vaguely remember reading the book and watching that movie in the past. The photos in this post are so lovely...you've put everything together in such an interesting manner! :) I especially love that trailing flowering vine ( it is wisteria ? ) and the shot of the green door opening.

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  9. I think I remember seeing the movie years and years ago. Its on my list for Neflix now! Thank you, and have a great week ahead. Wonderful post!

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  10. Loved the photos! I've never read the book but I've seen the movie several times mainly because I'm a huge Elizabeth Taylor fan!

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  11. Dewena, you did an amazing job of putting the words into a visual for this post. I've never seen a movie that I liked better than the book, but this movie came pretty close. I'm like you. Love both the book and the movie. I loved seeing your interpretation of the house in pictures. Good post. laurie

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  12. Okay! I've seen the movie (I liked it.) Now after your creative description, I will add the novel to my long list of want-to-reads!

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  13. Never seen the movie...sounds interesting though!!! I may have to add the novel to my beach reading .. Thanks for sharing.

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  14. Hi Dewena,

    What a beautiful post! I love the picture with the table setting and the gorgeous bouquet and teapot. Haven't read the book or seen the movie, but after this wonderful tribute, I am looking forward to it.

    Poppy

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  15. I don't even know if you'll see this comment. but I've been roaming around across the way and lots of old posts and decided to let you know.
    I fell in love with this post all over again! it's wonderfully styled and written. one of my favorites. XO♥

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    Replies
    1. What a nice surprise to find you commenting on this old post the second time, Tam, 4 years later! I'd forgotten about this one, poured an awful lot of time into it so thanks for taking me back to it. I've probably read the book twice more since then and I never can resist watching the movie when it comes on TCM.

      Now to email you!

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