Review: Giants and Toys (1958)
A truly astonishing film that satirizes the excesses of consumerism, Giants and Toys is one part A Face in the Crowd, one part Sweet Smell of Success, one part Japanese pop art. The result is something altogether powerful, surprising, and unsettling. This movie follows three rival candy companies and their struggle to be the dominant consumer brand. With characters dedicated to winning at all costs (this results in ulcers that cause them to cough up blood), we're rocketed into a world that doesn't feel dissimilar to Mad Men, and which includes dark satire, sardonic humor, and even a huge song-and-dance number near the end of the film. The standout star of Giants and Toys is Hitomi Nozoe, who, throughout the story, transforms from a wacky, rotten-mouthed (her teeth are ruined by caramels) corporate marketing tool into a stunning diva at the height of stardom. Equal parts scathing critique of mindless consumerism (there's a speech given by one of the characters about how companies see us, the customer, that would be echoed years later in Lumet's Network) and brightly-colored eye candy, Giants and Toys is somehow shockingly relevant over 60 years after it first hit theaters.