“Nig came round in the evening. watched a programme on James Dean – damn good!”
(Pic nabbed from the official James Dean website. Hopefully they won’t me using it here? Especially as I have mentioned the official James Dean website. Twice.)
Long before the phrase “man crush” came into existence, I – like many other disgruntled teenage boys of the 60’s and 70’s – had a man crush on James Dean.
I don’t know if the TV programme I mention here was responsible for my initial fascination or if I was already infatuated at this point, but I do know that over several years I consumed everything there was to consume about the guy. I hunted down and read just about every book I could find, going so far as to obtaining frame by frame ‘picture scripts’ of all three of his movies and (perhaps gruesomely) building a plastic replica of a Porsche Spyder, the same car he crashed and died in back in 1955.
Back then the media wasn’t quite as powerful as it has become these days so his life was far more of an enigma, his death not reported on in the same depth – or with the same mawkish enthusiasm – as, for instance, someone like Health Ledger’s was.
I think the ‘legend’ status of Dean is assured, his contribution to film history immense. Whenever one of his trio of starring roles turns up on a television listing here I will almost always record or watch it. “Rebel without a Cause” used to be my favourite – that angry young man perhaps reminding me of myself? – but as I grow older and wiser I can see that his consummate performance was actually in “Giant” outshining Liz Taylor and Rock Hudson in every scene he appears. “East of Eden” has always been bottom of my list, but when that list is just three titles strong it’s not falling very far from grace is it?!