With a mere three films and a short life of only 24 years, James Bryon Dean’s appeal as lasted through the decades as the ageless rebel. Dean has the androgynous appeal that attracts both sexes with his emotional performances and the method acting that can rival the rages of Montgomery Clift and Marlon Brando. And for the fashion industry, he is the epitome of the 1950s rebel with his red barracuda jacket. And according to the Gay Times, he is the male gay icon of our time. Mr. Dean has had that iconic status from the very beginning. And here’s his three essential films (and an added bonus).
East of Eden (1955)
East of Eden was Dean’s first Hollywood movie as it’s based on a pair of brothers (a la Cain and Abel) vying for the affection of their father during the turn of the 20th century. There’s so much pathos as Dean delivers a great first performance. Plus, Dean looks very chic in early 20th century casual attire.
Rebel Without A Cause (1955)
Rebel Without A Cause is undoubtedly the film that movie-goers will remember. And with good reason as James Dean plays the iconic rebel teen that deals with bullying peers and pestering parents behind the facade of the 1950s American portrait. His acting is heartbreaking as he screams for his frustration and his alienation.
Giant is a very long movie (over 200 minutes long) with James Dean playing a supporting role, but the movie is still very good nonetheless as it focus on the epic lives of rich Texans. Dean plays the poor farm boy who strikes gold with oil and becomes the famous millionaire playboy. His performance is only enhanced by the heroic Rock Hudson and the alluring Elizabeth Taylor. It’s a really good send-off for Dean as he gives an emotional performance (especially his last scene crying over the table by himself). We also get to see the actors age, which is perfect for people who wished James Dean never left us.
James Dean (2001)
If there ever was a perfect biography film on James Dean, then this made-for-tv movie is golden. James Franco plays James Dean with an uncanny resemblance and brings the emotional acting that most movie-goers will remember. This is a fantastic movie as we see behind the scenes of James Dean’s life, including his family problems, his acting career, his love life and supposed homosexual orientation. It’s very sad during the final days before his death. An absolute essential for Dean and Franco fans.
Thank you, Mr. James Bryon Dean.