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James Dean - The First American Teenager [DVD]
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James Dean was one of the greatest icons of the 20th Century, and his legend still lives on today Filmed by Ray Connolly and David Puttnam, this essential documentary features footage from Dean s greatest films and interviews with screen icons such as Sammy Davis Jnr, Dennis Hopper, and Natalie Wood. The soundtrack to the film features David Bowie, The Eagles, Lou Reed, Eric Clapton, and Elton John Also included in the DVD release is a 24 page booklet featuring contributions from Dean worshippers such as Morrissey, The Killers, Billy Joel, Joan Jett and rare photos of the man himself.
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Top Customer Reviews
James Dean: The First American Teenager was made in 1975, long enough after Dean's death to get some perspective on his fame and close enough to Dean's generation to visit the vital locations of his life and times; to contact his peers, his friends and relatives and his drama coach, and get exclusive comments from people like Dennis Hopper, Sal Mineo, Nicholas Ray and Leonard Rosenman.
Some interviewees don't buy Dean's image, and you're trusted to make up your own mind.
It's understated, giving Dean the space to define himself, which he does, in clips and candid photos and anecdotes.
There is some cool montage of Dean on film: beyond the obligatory scenes that everyone includes, there are telling observations that glimpse something of the essence of the man in a second. Sat on a sidewalk minding his own broody business, Dean doesn't notice a woman walk by behind him -- but actually he does, furtively, and this documentary catches his awareness. The clip is Cal shadowing his estranged mother in East of Eden.
The montage spreads out a Dean monologue across several clips from all three films. Ray Connolly artfully puts these pieces together and puts the pacing through the gear changes of an ace. He's after the essence of the actor, because if he can catch that then Dean's influence on the culture will follow automatically.
Incidentally, James Dean: The First American Teenager now documents another layer: it's a documentary on Dean's iconic influence on the mid-Seventies. The early-Seventies rock soundtrack fits Dean's image amazingly well: dynamic, edgy, cool.Read more ›
The music was one of the most enduring memories for me. The image of Dean with the gun across his back, and sitting in the car wearing his cowboy hat, with the piano section of Eric Clapton's Layla playing has been embedded in my head ever since I first watched it.
A fitting tribute to such an enigmatic and mysterious young man.