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The James Dean Story [+DVD and Booklet] Special Edition

Price: £11.46 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
Includes FREE MP3 version of this album.
Does not apply to gift orders. See Terms and Conditions for important information about costs that may apply for the MP3 version in case of returns and cancellations.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Looking out for Jimmy 31 Dec. 2009
By Robin Benson - Published on
Format: Audio CD
For Dean fans this would seem to be a bargain for two CDs, a DVD and an eighty-two page CD size book.

I was primarily interested in the DVD with Robert Altman's seventy-nine minute docu `The James Dean Story'. Made in 1957, two years after Dean's death and more or less at the start of Altman's creative career (he was thirty-two). The problem with the movie is that Dean was only young himself with three movies, some TV and Broadway work but hardly enough to paint a picture of a creative personality. Altman therefore concentrates on everyone who might have known him while growing up, friends, neighbors, a farmer, his school teacher and waiters for example. What is revealed in these interviews is not much, though they are actually quite well done with the questions asked off-screen by the movies narrator: Martin Gabel. JD was quite average. Oddly, I thought, there are no interviews with the professionals he worked with while in Hollywood. The rest of the DVD has three TV plays from 1953, '54 and '55 (lasting eighty-two minutes and predictably of varying image quality) and it's here that you can get a glimpse of Dean's potential. The final items on the disc are trailers to his three movies.

Of the two CDs, one is the soundtrack to the Altman documentary, composed by Leith Stevens. I thought it very uninspiring and it's interesting that in the movie you hardly notice most of it in the background. In parts it seemed rather reminiscent of Hugo Friedhofer's brilliant 1946 score for 'The best years of our lives' movie.

The other CD has the music from Dean's three movies, East of Eden and Rebel composed by Leonard Rosenman and Giant by Dimitri Tiomkin. Again I didn't think these are truly memorable scores. The remainder of the disc is some rather maudlin songs and tributes. To complete the package the booklet is the usual collection of film stills, grainy snaps and text that is really a repeat of the Altman work in words but it is reasonably produced.

Why the box set was originated by a Spanish record company in 2005 is beyond me but as the price is remarkable low I wouldn't be surprised if someone totally miscalculated the interest in Dean and overproduced. Had it been a US production I bet there would have been more contributions from show biz personalities and movie folk.
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