From the novel written by: John Steinbeck
Director: Eliza Kazan
Stars: James Dean Julie Harris Raymond Massey
The story unfolds just before WWI Cal (Dean) and his brother Aron Trask lie with their father in a small town Cal is a troubled young man who believes quite rightly that his father loves his brother(Aron) more than him.
He is the black sheep of their family constantly having to compete with Aron, it’s almost the reworking of Cain and Abel, the novel obviously goes into more detail, but you can feel the pain Cal feels at every rebuff from his father in favour of Aron.
Their father Adam, makes a huge business mistake by attempting to ship frozen lettuce wich fails and he loses everything, Cal seeing this as a chance to finally get the approval he craves, sets himself up in business and is successful he goes to his father to share with him is yet again rebuffed.
Cal also finds out that his mother is alive, his father having told both boys she was dead, Cal finds her working as a madame in brothel, her beauty faded, and still not caring about the sons she left behind.
Cal through anger pushes Aron into meeting their mother, the scene is ugly and powerful and has tragic results for all concerned.
Dean in this played the tortured young man convincingly, but with an underlying sensitivity, making the film not only watchable but also believable.
Directed by: Nicholas Ray
Stars: James Dean Natalie Wood Sal Mineo
Jim Stark the new kid in town his parents having moved there because of problems with him elsewhere.
This film in many ways depicts the emergence of the teenage, who challenged the old order of parents having absolute control, and for the first time parent s had to consider their children’s wants and needs, and the conflicts that ensues, music and fashions changed, music still being blamed even in 2012 for teenage delinquency.
Jim can’t talk to his parents or would like to try but his father is completely cowed by his mother and never really allowing the dialogue between the two to take place.
At his new school he’s an outsider but he meets Plato(Mineo) who forms an attachment to Jim.
Jim is challenged by Judy’s (Wood) to a “chikkie run”, whereby they race to the edge of a cliff and see who jumps out of their car first, Buzz gets his sleeve caught and flies of the edge of the cliff but Jim survives.
The code of silence is put into place and all the kids scatter, though Jim Plato Judy hide out in an old mansion, where they all form a bond, and for the first time Jim feels he can open up.
The other kids sure that Jim has told on them spend the night looking for them to shut them up and here we have a dramatic ending that’s played out when one of them is killed.
It must be noted that the then fifteen Natalie Wood plays such a pivotal role (Judy) firstly as a teenage femme fatale desperate for her father’s approval, to her own rebellion hanging out with the bad boys to finally showing she is a sensitive girl just trying to fit in, the film peels way many layers, and it’s a satisfying movie to watch.
Director: George Stevens
Stars: James Dean Elizabeth Taylor Rock Hudson
Giant set in the early twenties, Texas Bick (Hudson) Brings his new bride Leslie (Taylor) to his sprawling Texas Ranch (Rheta) Leslie a modern woman is at first appalled by the vastness the attitudes towards women and the racism she finds in and around her new life.
Leslie also has to contend with Luz (Mercedes Macambridge) co-owner of the ranch who is just one of the boys and is jealous and completely at odds with Leslie’s girlish ways.
On a foray on the ranch Leslie first meets Jett (Dean), who just seems to be there but the reason why is never fully explained, and only Luz seems to like him. Jet falls in live with Leslie somehow wanting to improve himself in he eyes as she treated him with kindness and took a genuine interest in him.
Luz dies and leaves a tract of land to Jett who strikes oil, he gloats to Bric who had tried to buy the land from him and remove him from his land, Jet of course gloats and the hatred between the two men deepen.
As they years go by Jet becomes more and more disillusioned with his life he’s still in love with Leslie but will never win her from Bric, who has his own issues none of his children want the land, and want to live their own lives encouraged by their mother.
Sal Mineo has agreat role here as the first baby born on the ranch soon after Lslies arrival and she takes a special interest in him, also he is the first man from the ranch to join up for WWII.
The scenes in which Dennis Hoppers Mexican wife is refused in a hair salon because of her race, makes Bric realise it’s a changing world and he gradually accepts the multicultural side of his family pinning his hopes on the future of his beloved Rheta on them.
Jet a drunk with nothing but his money to keep him company, has one last fight with Brick and loses, not just the fight but what little self-respect he has left Luz Brics daughter sees this and finally realises her father is the better man.
James Dean died during the making of this film aged 24.
As he died young we’ll never know what further impact he would have made in the movie industry, however his talent thus far at the time was well showcased in his three films