He starred in only three films, and yet he is a silver screen icon; a Hollywood legend. He died at 24 (Sept. 30, 1955) and yet books, movies and more (art, legend, tales, etc.) have been devoted to his influence on generations that may even lack a cohesive understanding of what the young man was all about.
We are speaking of James Dean, the star of East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant … and the subject of writer/director Matthew Mishory’s first feature film (after three noteworthy short films, including Delphinium: A Childhood Portrait of Derek Jarman).
The film in question, which is heading to DVD from Wolfe Video on June 4, is Joshua Tree, 1951: A Portrait of James Dean. Using elements from the actor’s pre-New York TV and stage work and his college days at UCLA, Mishory has fashioned a sexually-charged tale about a brief moment in the future icon’s life prior to his flash of fame … and immortality.
James Preston plays the young actor in this stylized, dream-like — even surreal — glimpse into what life (and experimentation) might have been like for a 1950s college student and thespian. We know from his biography that he had a torrid affair with Pier Angeli once he gained notoriety and fame … and we also know that he had an exceptionally “close” relationship with his college roommate and future screenwriter William Bast (based on two books written by Bast).
From these sexual threads, Mishory has sculpted a “might-have-been” story that, quite frankly, it is one that James Dean would not have objected to. The relationships, the sexual encounters and experimentation all seem to fit … and in an odd way the story spun here (“roommate” without a name, etc.) is neither gay, nor bi-sexual, but just a “what if” moment lost to time.
Included as a bonus feature is the aforementioned short film from Matthew Mishory, Delphinium: A Childhood Portrait of Derek Jarman.
To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report: DVD & Blu-ray Release Report