Thursday, July 17, 2014

"James Dean: Born Cool", a documentary of the charismatic actor

James Dean: Born Cool” is a 57-minute documentary about the famous actor made in 2001 by Denn Pietro and Denver Rochon. 
The documentary, just in 4:3 aspect ratio without modern hi-def (which the filmmaker says is simply because he used the technology of the time) has lots of stills and many brief interviews of descendants of the family as well as various movie people.  James went to live with his aunt and uncle (near Fairmount, Indiana) after his mother died of ovarian cancer, as the father wasn’t able to raise him alone.  He became an accomplished basketball player (without the advantage of height) and found acting his calling early in adulthood.  There’s a scene where he rehearses Hamlet.
Toward the end, the film present’s Dean’s experience in New York in the early 50s, as troubled. It mentions his appearance in a play called “The Immoralist”.  Dean is quoted as saying “being a man is harder than being an actor”.
The documentary does not get into his personal life or bisexuality (see the film “Joshua Tree” June 26).  He seems to have been very assertive and charismatic in person.  However the film does cover the accounts of the tragic racing car crash that ended his life at age 24.  

The film is available free on YouTube now, but a DVD is for sale (Whatantics Productions).  

Picture: Mother's estate: I think it's near Cleveland, Ohio (1940 or so).  

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