Some of the content was lifted, with permission, from The James Dean Story, a much earlier documentary in which Robert Altman had a hand. The interviews with the likes of Sal Mineo (smoking a cigarette and guzzling from a can of Schlitz), director Nicholas Ray, and Natalie Wood look current for the time, but might have been filmed for another project. A lot of grainy black-and-white photos and even grainier black-and-white Kinescopes fill us in on Dean’s youth and early appearances on live television, and scenes from his three major color films fill in the rest.
The narration by actor Stacy Keach falls back on clichés (Dean was the first American teenager, the first rebel, an acting genius, etc), and the whole thing reeks of something made directly for home video even though it was released before the introduction of the Betamax.
Brian W. Fairbanks
March 18, 2012
© 2011 Brian W. Fairbanks