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James Dean Discussion

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James Dean would have been 83 years old today. Was watching East of Eden again and marvel at how exceptional he was in that film. I think he had great acting ability and wonder what types of roles he could have played as he grew older. Unfortunately, we'll never know. I think he had a lot of talent and really could have become one of the greatest. Wonder what he would have looked like at 83 years old. Amazing to think that almost 60 years after his passing, he is still remembered as a legend and icon. What are your thoughts of this actor?

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Who doesn't like James Dean?

But unfortunately for him, it's difficult to think of Dean the actor and separate that idea from Dean the icon. Dying young and suddenly always makes for a good story around actors who've not yet had a chance to fully develop their potential talent.

Add the "dying young" mystique to his good looks, his "outsider" image, and the body of work he did leave behind (in none of his films does he play just an ordinary guy) and you have the formula for "legend". (Of course, it wasn't a "formula" back then.)

 

So, in answer to your question, I do like James Dean. But you can only watch the few movies he made so many times. I've seen all three of his starring pictures several times, and will probably enjoy the next time I see them more after taking a long break from them.

 

(Anyway - not Dean's fault, but I tire of *Giant*, one of those 50s melo-dramas that goes on and on...)

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Happy Birthday , Jimmy.

 

If he had only listened to the CHP cop, he would probably still be alive today.

 

Jimmy might of became a big time movie director or done broadway work like Sal Mineo. He had the talent. It's too bad his life ended the way it did.

 

Edited by: classiccinemafan on Feb 8, 2014 3:05 PM

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Wow, can't believe James Dean would have been 83 years old today. RIP. I thought he was a "one-of-a-kind" type actor. He was great. Of his 3 films, I liked East of Eden the best. He really was Cal Trask. He had it all, acting talent, charisma, good looks, etc.....too bad his life was so short. Would have loved to see what else he would have done.

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I loved "Rebel Without a Cause," that was my favorite of the James Dean trilogy. I think he probably would have made a couple more of the angsty teen type roles, and then he would have searched for a different type part. I think he would have tired of playing that role over and over-- especially since he wasn't even a teen when he made his first three films.

 

I would hope he would have evolved into more of a Paul Newman career versus a Marlon Brando career. Don't get me wrong, Marlon Brando left a very good body of work; but he kind of went off the deep end for me after "The Godfather." I think it would have also been interesting to see if James Dean would be effective in a genre like comedy. He seems like he'd have a pretty decent sense of humor.

 

I'm trying to decide what I would see Dean doing as he aged and was obviously too old for the role of the tormented teen. I could see Dean going behind the scenes and trying his hand at directing, like Warren Beatty and Clint Eastwood. Perhaps Dean would have taken on some "Dirty Harry-esque" roles? That'd be interesting.

 

It's a shame that Dean left the world so soon. I think he was given a speeding ticket prior to his accident. He was speeding down the highway; but ultimately, it was a driver making a left turn onto the highway in front of him that killed him. Dean tried to make a maneuver to get out of the way; but there wasn't enough time and the cars hit head on. I think both parties are at fault here. Can you imagine living your life as the guy who accidentally killed James Dean?

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I don't think Dean was speeding. I read he was given a speeding ticket shortly before the accident. He also had the right of way and that other driver didn't see the small gray car as it blended into the horizon and he made a left turn in front of Dean's car. I don't think Dean was wearing a seat belt either. Does anyone know? Dean had the right of way - don't think he was at fault - but it was a tragic accident.

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I've heard both ways. Some say he was speeding and others say he wasn't. What is for sure though, is that the other party involved made a left turn in front of Dean. Despite how fast James Dean may or may not have been going, isn't the point, he did have the right of way. I think in the initial investigation, authorities concluded that James Dean was speeding at 85mph. The other driver was cleared of any wrong doing. I guess within recent years (I'm not sure when exactly), a computer simulation recreated the investigation and concluded that Dean was not speeding and was only going about 55mph.

 

I think even if Dean were wearing a seat belt, it wouldn't have saved him. He hit the other guy head on and seeing what the Porsche looked like after the wreck, there's no way he would have lived through that. It's amazing that his passenger survived.

 

A couple years ago, enroute from Monterey to Anaheim, my husband and I were actually driving on Highway 41 (or 46, I don't remember), but I saw the sign saying "Chloame, pop xx" and I was like "oh, this is where James Dean died!" I was looking for the James Dean Memorial sign; but I think I was on the wrong side of the highway. I was heading west toward Anaheim, I think Dean may have been heading east toward Paso Robles.

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Great post speedracer.

 

The Porsche Dean was driving was like a tin can, coupled with him not wearing a seatbelt and the brunt of the collision was on the driver's side - he didn't have a chance. The passenger was thrown clear of the car, while Dean was trapped in the car and had a broken neck and other severe injuries. I never understood how the other driver was cleared of wrongdoing. Sure, it was an accident, but Dean had right of way and the other driver made a turn in front of him - clearly the other driver was at fault.

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Given the lack of safety features built into automobiles of that time, you didn't necessarily have to be going fast to have a fatal accident. And a sports car like Dean was in was even less crashworthy. The car he crashed head on into was a typical American sedan of the day that was larger and heavier than Dean's car. The fact that Dean's car crumpled so badly under the impact may have spared the other driver from a serious injury.

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>A couple years ago, enroute from Monterey to Anaheim, my husband and I were actually driving on Highway 41 (or 46, I don't remember), but I saw the sign saying "Chloame, pop xx" and I was like "oh, this is where James Dean died!" I was looking for the James Dean Memorial sign; but I think I was on the wrong side of the highway. I was heading west toward Anaheim, I think Dean may have been heading east toward Paso Robles.

 

Actually speedy, Dean was traveling west on CA State Route 466(now just named CA Hwy 46) and Donald Turnupseed(yeah, really) the driver of the Ford sedan traveling east on the same road. Turnupseed, by all indications, failing to see the small Porsche mid-engine race car, attempted to make a left turn onto CA State Route 41 which intersected at a diagonal to SR46 and to continue on in a northeasterly direction and on to Fresno. Unfortunately as we know, his maneuver impacted Dean's Spyder.

 

Btw, the Dean monument you sought is located in the parking lot of a roadhouse dinner located in the little town of Cholame, CA, and which sits just a few miles west on Hwy 46 of where the accident took place.

 

As a side note here, on Sept.30, 2005, the 50th anniversary of Dean's death, I traveled to that little dinner in order to glean some information on purchasing a replica 550 Spyder (they go for about $40K and as compared to the approx 45 of 95 ever made and remaining in existence of the real model, and which are now valued in the millions of dollar) as I had heard many people who owned them would be there with their replica Spyders while at this tribute. I would end up purchasing one a couple years later and still own it to this day. Man is it ever a beautiful AND fun little car to drive, but I ALWAYS remember that just like whenever I'm riding one of my motorcycles, "NOBODY sees you out there" and thus always drive VERY defensively while behind its wheel.

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Dargo, that's "diner" not "dinner" . There you go , dangling that participle again ! ;)

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Several documentaries I've seen state he was very interested in directing and spent much off-screen time with the ones he had asking questions and observing them at work when he was not part of the story. I'm thinking he realized that film acting popularity comes and goes at the will of the public and having a stage, directing, producing or writing career to fall back on was in his best interest. He might have been another Newman, Redford, Eastwood or Gibson.

 

From what I've read on this thread-much of which I wasn't aware of-this is something that could have happened to anybody with a sports car such as his. Whatever occurred, it cut short a great career.

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I don't find him compelling--he did his own brand of schtick. We'll never know how far or wide his influence would have been, but teen angst is teen angst to me.

 

Having seen plenty of teen angst from my own child to nieces and nephews, his "nobody gets me" act is not all that special to me.

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I found him very compelling. I'd say he was great and probably would have been even greater had he lived longer.

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I agree that he is very compelling. He was a student of the "Method" acting school and sometimes I find some of the actors from the Method to be tedious, Marlon Brando, for example. I like James Dean, however. There's just something about him that is enthralling. In my opinion, I don't think it's fair to write him off as a gimmick or just an example of a melodramatic "angsty" teenager.

 

James Dean came about during the time that teenagers were emerging as an influential segment of society. Teenagers no longer were expected to work full time to support their families. They could take the afterschool job at the malt shop or were given allowances. They had disposable income! This was a market companies could appeal to. With automobiles being easier to access or even buy, teenagers were mobile. The drive in movie and drive in restaurants popped up. They listened to a new genre of music, rock n' roll made popular by the likes of Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly. Some teenagers started rebelling against their parents' stodgy and rigid rules. When James Dean first appeared on movie screens in "East of Eden," and later his most iconic role, "Rebel Without a Cause," he was someone the teenagers could look up to. They identified with his dilemmas and emotions.

 

Like or dislike his films, acting style, characters, etc. he is an indelible symbol of 1950s American cinema and culture.

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James Dean seemed to be a very natural actor, I would liken him to Montgomery Clift as opposed to Mr Brando. The characters he played in that handful of films he was in were very right for him. Its pure speculation as to how he would have progressed as an actor as he would have gotten older, what kind of roles he could have played, what his range as an actor really was. We will never know these things.

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Just by looking at him , you can tell God only put him on this earth for a short time. He was never meant to get old and die . The same with Marilyn Monroe. They're all forever young in you minds. Jimmy is frozen in time at age 24 and Marilyn at 36 (correct me if I'm wrong)

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Not wanting to turn this into a religious discussion, I agree with you in the sense that James Dean and Marilyn Monroe's unfortunate deaths early in life keeps them young forever. Since we never saw them age, i.e Marlon Brando or Elizabeth Taylor, we'll always remember them as they were when they were young. Brando and Taylor aged in front of the public. As a result, the images of them old are more entrenched in the public's mind.

 

Some of the actors that died young, for example, Marilyn, Judy Garland, Montgomery Clift and my beloved Errol Flynn, are not surprising considering how many substance abuse and other issues they were experiencing. Especially Garland. Due to her alcoholism, she was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver in the 1950s. She was given only a short timeframe to live. Same thing with Flynn. When he died, while only 50, it was said he had the body of a 75 year old man. While sad, it is not surprising and what's worse is that it was their own doing.

 

Other stars like Jean Harlow, James Dean, Jayne Mansfield, Bruce Lee, Brandon Lee, Sharon Tate and Buddy Holly all died suddenly. Their deaths weren't expected or inevitable (aside from eventual mortality of course). These stars will always remain "forever young," as well.

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Yes! Carole Lombard too! I didn't mean to omit her. I doubt it was expected that she would die in a plane crash on her way home from a WWII war bond tour.

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I would say the Dean was anything but an 'natural' actor. i.e. his actions say to me 'here comes some some major acting'!'. Ok, a lot of that has to do with the characters he was asked to play; e.g. teens full of emotions. These characters don't appear 'natural' to me.

 

So as it relates to Dean has an actor at the end of the day I'm left with 'I don't know', since the limited films he made show a type of character that isn't very appealing to me BUT that doesn't mean that if Dean was given a subdued character to play he couldn't of pulled it off.

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