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The Complete James Dean Collection (East of Eden / Giant / Rebel Without a Cause Special Edition)
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East of Eden is an acknowledged classic, and the starring debut of James Dean lifts it to legendary status. John Steinbeck's novel gave director Elia Kazan a perfect Cain-and-Abel showcase for Dean's iconic screen persona, casting the brooding star as Cal, the younger of two brothers vying for the love of their Bible-thumping father (Raymond Massey) in Monterey, California, at the dawn of World War I. Massey is a lettuce farmer, striving for market domination with an ill-fated refrigeration scheme. Having discovered that his presumed-dead mother (Oscar winner Jo Van Fleet) is a brothel owner in nearby Salinas, Cal convinces her to finance an investment that will restore his father's lost fortune, but neither money nor the tenderness of his brother's fiancée (Julie Harris) can assuage Cal's anguished need for paternal acceptance that comes nearly too late. Kazan's oblique camera angles and Dean's tortured emoting may seem extreme by latter-day standards, but their theatrics make East of Eden a timeless tale of family secrets and hard-won affection.
When people think of James Dean, they probably think first of the troubled teen from Rebel Without a Cause: nervous, volatile, soulful, a kid lost in a world that does not understand him. Made between his only other starring roles, in East of Eden and Giant, Rebel sums up the jangly, alienated image of Dean, but also happens to be one of the key films of the 1950s. Director Nicholas Ray takes a strikingly sympathetic look at the teenagers standing outside the white-picket-fence '50s dream of America: juvenile delinquent (that's what they called them then) Jim Stark (Dean), fast girl Judy (Natalie Wood), lost boy Plato (Sal Mineo), slick hot-rodder Buzz (Corey Allen). At the time, it was unusual for a movie to endorse the point of view of teenagers, but Ray and screenwriter Stewart Stern captured the youthful angst that was erupting at the same time in rock & roll. Dean is heartbreaking, following the method acting style of Marlon Brando but staking out a nakedly emotional honesty of his own. Going too fast, in every way, he was killed in a car crash on September 30, 1955, a month before Rebel opened. He was no longer an actor, but an icon, and Rebel is a lasting monument.
Giant got its name because everything in the picture is big, from the generous running time (more than 200 minutes) to the sprawling ranch location (a horizon-to-horizon plain with a lonely, modest mansion dropped in the middle) to the high-powered stars. Stocky Rock Hudson stars as the confident, stubborn young ranch baron Bick Benedict, who woos and wins the hand of Southern belle Elizabeth Taylor, a seemingly demure young beauty who proves to be Hudson's match after she settles into the family homestead. For many the film is chiefly remembered for James Dean's final performance, as poor former ranch hand Jett Rink, who strikes oil and transforms himself into a flamboyant millionaire playboy. Director George Stevens won his second Oscar for this ambitious, grandly realized (if sometimes slow moving) epic of the changing socioeconomic (and physical) landscape of modern Texas, based on Edna Ferber's bestselling novel. The talented supporting cast includes Mercedes McCambridge as Bick's frustrated sister, put out by the new "woman of the house"; Chill Wills as the Benedicts' garrulous rancher neighbor; Carroll Baker and Dennis Hopper as the Benedicts' rebellious children; and Earl Holliman and Sal Mineo as dedicated ranch hands.
Top Customer Reviews
"East of Eden" is, for me, the most welcome film in this set, simply because it has been so difficult to obtain a copy of it in recent years. The anamorphic transfer here is stunning, with crisp color and detail. The stereo soundtrack is fine. There is an audio commentary, as well as a wealth of bonus materials. Some of the material here includes screen tests, and wardrobe tests, although strangely some footage included briefly in the included documentaries (Dean's test with Paul Newman, the playful "pinching" footage of Dean and Julie Harris) is not included here.
"Rebel Without a Cause", like "Eden" offers a stunning anamorphic transfer with strong surround sound. The extras include a commentary, deleted scenes for the film (both in the original black and white, and the final color version), and screen tests. There is a very funny and insightful screen test here with Dean, Mineo and Wood. The previous DVD release of this film had only shown portions of this clip, but this release offers the full (some may say 'uncensored') version. There is also a documentary reflecting on Dean's spectacular, but brief career.
Dean's final film, "Giant" is featured here in a very clean, but oddly NOT-anamorphic transfer. This would not be an issue, if the film was not presented in a letterbox transfer. I would imagine this is the same transfer that was done several years back. However, I don't think it's acceptable that any recent widescreen DVD release not be presented in an anamorphic transfer. Additionally, the film's soundtrack has been remastered in a 5.1 mix, that sounds weak at best.Read more ›
We first see Dean in East of Eden sporting what would become his trademark look: disheveled hair, sitting hunched over on a street curb with his head bowed slightly like some kind of shy, troubled person. His performance oscillates between internalized torment and explosive anguish. It is a very stylized Method performance with Dean sometimes mumbling his dialogue but also a very emoting like crazy. For the time, it was quite realistic and a revelation but now seems, at times, exaggerated. However, no one conveys angst and emotional turmoil quite like Dean, especially when he pleads, "Talk to me!" to his estranged mother at one point in the movie.
Dean expands on the angst and frustration he displayed in East of Eden with a more complex performance in Rebel Without A Cause. Jim just wants to have a strong father figure to admire and not the emasculated one he has (the polar opposite of his dad in Eden) to deal with. Dean conveys a wide range of emotions and even showcases a capacity for comedy.Read more ›
In a film career which spanned only 16 months and included only three films, James Dean defined the disorientation of disaffected youth, as one strives to carve out one's identity, separate from one's parents, and discover what values truly define and shape that identity and self. The remarkable thing about his movie roles is that they did this not only for his generation, but speak for each succeeding generation down to the present day. In no small part due to his tragic death at the age of 24, he never ages, and therefore remains the icon of all that is cool to all generations, whether you identify with Elvis, the Beatles, Sting or Kurt Cobain. Onscreen, James Dean remains the Real Thing in a way few other movie stars have ever been.
Bringing what Marlon Brando called "a subtle energy and a sense of intangible injury" to each of his roles, Dean created a cinematic presence which was so compelling, it had few, if any equals. He became at once the gravitational center and the propulsive force of every scene he was in. It did not matter if he was acting with Raymond Massey, Julie Harris, Natalie Wood, Rock Hudson or Elizabeth Taylor. For each and every moment he was onscreen, you could not take your eyes off him and what he was doing.
In the process, Dean managed to encapsulate and project all the conflicts and contradictions of youth in a manner and to a degree which remains unparalleled.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fantastic James Dean dvd collection. Delivered when and what was expected.Published 1 month ago by MyReview4U
James Dean was one of my favorites. Glad to find these movies still available!Published 1 month ago by Judith Walter
I recently re-watched both Rebel Without a Cause and East of Eden. I've seen Giant a fair amount of times as well. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Louc0517
A short but exciting career, James Dean was a bit ahead of his time. Though 'Giant' is included in this pack, it is neither his best, nor does he have a leading role. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Mandy Sparks
I'm a huge JD fan and I love all his movies and I just had to purchase this collection of all three of his movies cuz I missed seeing his movies, I saw them long time ago in vhs... Read morePublished 6 months ago by maria martin
I recommend this absolutely beautiful James Dean Collection to all "Dean-agers" as well as to all the young people who want to know something important in movie history as... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Elizabeth A. Dubay
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