Some time ago, we wrote blogs about James Dean, questioning his contemporary reputation as a Fifties enfant terrible who shocked the Hollywood establishment with his vast talent.
We then received a mixed response from readers, some passionately disagreeing and others expressing qualified agreement.
As repeatedly mentioned in these columns, we love email from readers. And we don’t especially care how long it takes to get to us. Today we open our “reader’s e-mail bag” feature with a response to our blog of Sept. 22, 2011, JAMES DEAN — really a good actor?
We expressed strong approval of Natalie Wood’s performance as an anxious high school girl in Nicholas Ray’s 1955 drama, Rebel Without A Cause. Dean costars as an angry, troubled student while Sal Mineo delivers as “Plato,” a mixed up teenager emotionally abandoned by his parents.
Our problem with Dean’s performance in the movie was that it comes across as its self-indulgent infantilism, and the fact that the actor (then 24) appears way too old to be playing a high schooler.
Here’s what we received from Jean:
One thing I wanted to say though, in ‘Rebel’ I didn’t feel it was Natalie Wood that out performed everyone, but Sal Mineo. He gets overlooked but his portrayal of an abandoned and confused teenager came off as psychologically…right somehow.
Other than that I agree that Dean just made me roll my eyes at his “troubles” and made me want to yell at him to grow up.
I am rather tired of all the James Dean brown nosing. I didn’t hate him, or think he was awful, but he hardly deserves the overblown great status he has gotten over the years. Oh, and he looked way older than 24. In ‘Rebel’ be looked 40 to me.
Thanks, Jean. Glad to see Mineo get his due. We welcome contrary points on view on Dean and his Rebel performance.
In our Jan. 22 blog (Star of the Week — BILL LUNDIGAN), we noted this hard-working but under-rated actor made some good pictures. Specifically, we recommended 1951’s The House On Telegraph Hill and, especially, 1953’s Inferno.
Regular reader Patricia Nolan-Hall has some additional recommendations:
I’d move ‘I’d Climb the Highest Mountain’ over to that recommendation list. Lundigan had such an adorable smile and a really nice voice. ‘Follow Me Quietly’ is dandy crime picture I’d recommend as well for anyone who wants to check out Mr. Lundigan.
Thanks, and keep those cards and letters coming.