Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Rebel Without A Cause you DIDN''T see

Ed here: I'd lost interest in James Dean over the years. His movie acting now struck me as labored and self-conscious and all the mythology about him overwrought. But last night I watched the cable documentary based on the lat five years of his life and he became interesting to me again. A sad strange guy and a real loss.

Then by coincidence, not at all looking for it, today I ran across this article about some of director Nicholas Ray's original plans for Rebel Without A Cause. Here are pieces of the long New York Times article by

Reclaiming Causes of a Filmmaking Rebel

Published: June 16, 2010

When Nicholas Ray, the pathbreaking filmmaker and director of “Rebel Without a Cause,” died from lung cancer in 1979, he left behind a substantial collection of artifacts that had never, or rarely, been seen. There is, for instance, the original typed treatment for “Rebel” with a bizarre twist that had Plato (played by Sal Mineo in the 1955 film) shoot Jim (James Dean) and commit suicide by falling on a live grenade.


“Rebel Without a Cause,” an emblem of adolescent disaffection, was his best known work. Though the grandiose ending in the treatment was scrapped, a series of 8 ½-by-11-inch storyboards — 53 of them — on which Ray scribbled notes in red ink about dialogue changes and camera positions reveal that his ideal finish was still different from the one that thrilled audiences.

Ray planned to have Plato shot by a sharpshooter from the roof of the planetarium. A close-up sketch of Dean’s face as he hangs onto a ladder and watches the body plummet head first shows the dramatic tension Ray sought to capture in the final frames.

Michael Chaiken, a film archivist, said this ending would have been much more expensive and difficult to shoot, and so Ray changed it at the last minute. Mr. Chaiken is working on the sale of the Ray material with the New York rare book dealer Glenn Horowitz.

for the entire article go here:


Fred Blosser said...

I missed the Dean generation by a few years, so personally he doesn't resonate with me. But seems to me his influence has lasted longer than Brando's, and still casts a long shadow over movie and TV types. All the pretty, somewhat androgynous actors who try to act sensitive, misunderstood, and tortured are obviously attempting to channel Dean, right down to the guys in TWILIGHT and the WB/CW shows aimed at young teen girls.

Ron Scheer said...

Saw GIANT recently and had the impression that if Dean had lived, his mannered and self-conscious performance in that movie would have ended his career. Probably need to see that cable doc.

Thanks for recommending WALTZ INTO DARKNESS a while ago. Really enjoying it.

Anonymous said...

I met him a few times when he was dating the L.A. TV personality Vampira and hanging at the Villa Capri. In person he was completely unaffected. I believe he was heavily influenced by Method acting, the rage then. I believe Ron Scheer is right. Had he lived he would have faded fast.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

James Dean was a bloody load of old rubbish.

Peter L. Winkler said...

I first became enamored of Dean while in college, when I discovered his films. I still think he is an amazingly authetic personality on screen, and though I have very little enthusiasm for films at all these days, I still think his performances are mesmerizing, transcending any of the shortcomings of his three starring vehicles. His premature death robbed us of a career of what would undobtedly have featured some intriguing performances.

Ed-do you have any details on the documentary. I'd like to track it down and see it.

Anonymous said...

I fell much the same way about Dean. I mean, I like him, but yes, he was over-hyped.

I will say this, however. I think if he had lived he might have actually grown into one of those truly elite actors who are memorable more for their work, than for who they are.