Monday, September 26, 2005
This Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the death of James Dean.
I just finished watching a show called James Dean - Sense Memories on teevee... granted it didn't tell me a lot I didn't already know... I've been a James Dean fan pretty much since I was about 15 or 16... and I've seen and read just about it all... his movies, a couple of biographies, the teevee movie with James Franco... I've even watched a movie because it had his name in the title.
But what was interesting about this Sense Memories show was the whole thing was told by people who knew him. Friends, people who worked with him, people involved in making his movies... they let them tell their own stories... and that was kind of interesting.
What was more interesting than that though was to look at all these old faces as they told their stories... Martin Landau, Eartha Kitt and especially Dean's costar from Rebel, Corey Allen. I mean, Allen was hot back in the day... all fifties hair and leather jacket, but hot... and now... its almost a completely different face looking at you.
And it got me thinking about what might have happened if Dean had lived.... he'd be 74 this year... would he just be another old face? I mean, look at that face... so intense, so timeless... so beautiful. Seeing it changed so with age as to be unrecognisable just doesn't seem possible... even though he did undergo a makeup job to simulate it in Giant... it was still very obviously him underneath it all.
If he hadn't died, then the cult around his image and short career certainly wouldn't have sprung up... and I kind of wonder where he would have gone from there... maybe he would have left movies and taken up auto racing... maybe he would have met the love of his life and been a husband and father... we're never going to know.
Somehow I kind of doubt it... he really was a candle that burned hot and bright... but not for long.
Rest in peace Jimmy... to coin an old phrase... we hardly knew you.