47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2005
I've anxiously anticipated this collection of James Dean's films, together in a complete set. Each of the films is presented in a two-disc package, with extras.
"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. I would have preferred to have seen this film released in it's original full-frame image, with a clean mono soundtrack. That aside, there is a wealth of extras here.
All in all, a very nice set, not totally perfect, but the best to date, by far.
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2005
For someone who had such a small, cinematic output-only three feature films-James Dean left behind an impressive legacy. Along with Marlon Brando, he best personified the Method style of acting where the individual would go to great lengths to feel and act as their character did. There is something about Dean's brief career and persona that has made him a revered icon. Perhaps it is because he died so young and so tragically. Perhaps it is that he never had the chance to age and his death has immortalized his youthful good looks. Regardless, this year marks the 50th anniversary of his tragic death and in observance, Warner Bros. has released The Complete James Dean Collection, a box set that packages all three of his movies in 2-DVD special editions loaded with extras.
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. Like The Catcher in the Rye, there is something timeless and universal that Rebel Without A Cause taps into (anyone can relate to Jim, Judy or Plato's feelings) and explains its enduring legacy.
In Giant, Dean plays Jett Rink, a hired hand at the Benedict ranch. His portrayal hints at the versatility he was developing. Finally, Dean doesn't play some angst-ridden youth-although, he still is an outsider, always looking at the action from a distance. Jett is jealous of Bick because his family didn't have the savvy to get rich like the Benedicts and so he resents being their hired help and is determined to become rich. This sets up the opposition between Bick who was born into money and Jett, a self-made man who strikes it rich when he discovers oil.
The East of Eden DVD features an audio commentary by Time magazine film critic Richard Schickel. He delivers all the requisite information (mini-bios on cast members, how people were cast, etc.) but in such a mundane, passionless way.
"Forever James Dean" is an hour-long documentary on the contradictions of Dean's life with interviews with friends and colleagues. The doc also does a nice job tracing Dean's life and his development as an actor with the only blemish being an awfully cheesy `80s song that dates it instantly.
"East of Eden: Art in Search of Life" examines the Steinbeck's novel and how it was not just his take on the Cain and Abel myth but also a commentary on his relationship with his father and family.
In "Wardrobe Tests," we see the cast try on various outfits for the camera in order to see what works and what doesn't. It's interesting to watch Dean's behaviour during these tests: sullen in one segment, goofy in another and serious in yet another.
The Rebel Without A Cause DVD features an audio commentary by Douglas L. Rathgeb, author of The Making of Rebel Without A Cause. The writer speaks very knowledgeably about many aspects (casting, visuals, acting, themes and anecdotes) of the movie in this very informative track.
"James Dean Remembered" is an hour-long look at Dean that was made in the `70s. Co-stars Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo talk about their experiences working with the actor on and off-screen. Even Sammy Davis, Jr., who was with Dean shortly before he died, tells an amusing anecdote about Dean and Marlon Brando meeting at a party.
"Rebel Without A Cause: Defiant Innocents" traces the film's origins from director Nicholas Ray's fascination with juvenile delinquency to the film's legacy. The film's screenplay was very autobiographical of its author, Stewart Stern, in particular, the dynamic of Jim Stark's family and his own. This is an excellent, in-depth look at how this classic movie came together.
There are "Screen Tests" of Wood, Dean and Mineo together that shows early on the terrific chemistry they had.
"Wardrobe Tests" features Dean with the actors who would play Buzz and his gang. Dean goofs around with some of them as he meets them all for the first time.
Also included are 16 deleted scenes without sound, some in black and white and some in colour. There is a lot of boring stuff, here, like kids leaving the Planetarium, complete alternate angles, kids driving up to the school and so on.
The Giant DVD is an existing special edition that came out a few years ago.
56 of 65 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2005
On Sept. 30, 2005, we mark the 50th anniversary of the death of James Dean. While baby-boomers may find that incredible, what's even more incredible is that throughout those 50 years, Dean's status as the icon of disaffected youth and rebellious adolescence has not only held up, but burnishes itself anew every time it is displayed before our eyes.
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. Dean's characters were full of hurt and hubris, anger and uncertainty, confidence and vulnerability... all at once. Other young actors are merely young, and maybe heartfelt. Dean's characters are young with an experience which defies their years, thereby expressing an intensity of feeling and inner conflict that no one else could match.
This collection of all three of Dean's starring vehicles provides something of serious value to everyone who cares about movies and American culture. The DVD transfers are first rate, and it's hard to believe, for instance, that "East of Eden" has been unavailable to viewers in any format for the past 10 years. Take advantage, movie fans! Even 50 years later, James Dean remains as compelling, as fascinating and as powerful as he ever was, and... HE NEVER GETS OLD.
25 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2005
James Dean will have been dead for 50 years on September 30th, 2005, and seeing that death has only enhanced his iconic image, even if Dean only starred in three studio pictures, I don't think it too much to ask that these films finally get the recognition they deserve. In fact, fans have had to wait so long for a "Dean Collection" that these discs better be flawless as the films themselves almost are. "East of Eden", "Rebel Without A Cause", and "Giant" will be included in this set and the first two mentioned really are screen burners in every aspect.
James Dean made his starring debut in "East of Eden", based on the best-selling John Steinbeck novel which retells the Adam and Eve story, and he was a star from then on. Dean plays Cal Trask, the "Cain" character, to glorious, brooding perfection. In fact, when Steinbeck himself met Dean, he told director Elia Kazan "He is Cal".
"Rebel Without A Cause", probably Dean's best-known film, is a landmark of method acting. Dean as Jim Stark, a pseudonym of James and Trask (as in Cal Trask from Eden), is not the quintessential teenager that everyone paints him. He is so much deeper and older than he appears. "Rebel Without a Cause", directed by Nicholas Ray, is truly a magnum opus of a film. A must see!
"Giant" is a very lush and grand film. Perhaps a bit overdone, but entertaining none the less. Edna Ferber, who wrote the novel, also said Dean was a wonderful choice to play Jett Rink, a common salt of the earth man, who rises to great heights, only to be ruined by his own demons. Dean is the most fascinating thing about "Giant" and easily steals every scene he is in. "The Complete James Dean Collection" is long overdue in any format, let alone DVD. Now, a new generation will be able to experience the myth that is James Dean.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2009
It has been over half a century since, in the words of the Eagles song, "Along came a Spyder and picked up a rider, and took him down the road to eternity." Three films. That's all we have. Yet in three films Dean left behind a legacy that has burned in to the public conscienceness as deeply as film legends like Humphrey Bogart or Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift, Marlon Brando, Paul Newman --who left larger bodies or work, yet he is remembered as well as they. He is an Icon for generation after generation. His image is still worn proudly by young people whose own parents weren't even alive when he walked across the silver screen. Three motion pictures is all we have and what motion incredible motion pictures they are.
EAST OF EDEN. A powerful film version of Steinbeck, even though it only uses the last 3rd of the novel. The story of Cain and Abel. As Cal Trask, desperately seeking the love of his father, Dean pours his heart and soul into a deeply incredible performance that earned him an Oscar nomination. Supported by Julie Harris, Raymond Massey,Joan Van Fleet, Dick Davalos and Burl Ives. Directed by Elia Kazan, who also introduced the world to Marlon Brando.
REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE. Following in the footsteps of BLACKBOARD JUNGLE, this is another tale of youth out of control. Dean stars as tortured Jim Stark. Wanting to belong. The classic scene: "Boy, if I could have one day when I wasn't all confused... if I didn't have to feel that I was ashamed of everything ...if I felt like I belonged somewhere, you know?" Dean would be dead for two weeks before this film's release. Natalie Wood .. Sal Mineo .. Jim Backus .. Nick Adams .. Dennis Hopper. Despite it's age, teens today can still watch and feel a kinship.
GIANT. An epic from the novel by Edna Ferber and directed by legend George Stevens. Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean. An incredible cast all in their twenties. The tale of Texas and oil and generations this would be his final performance. Jett Rink, ranch hand whom fate gives a small plot of land and has an oil strike. Yet in this film he is a background character. It really is about Hudson and Taylor.
Each of these movies has tons of extras to satisfy any lover of James Dean.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2008
The Complete James Dean Collection is one of the best sets I've ever had pleasure to see. It is a loving tribute to one of the brightest stars of American cinema and culture in general who tragically died in a car accident at the age of 24 after only starring in three films. The performances he gave made one only imagine how far Dean could've gone and what heights he would've achieved in his profession. First of all, Marlon Brando and Paul Newman would have had a match and a competition, and it would have resulted in many more great movies with unforgettable performances. I also was thinking that maybe J.D Salinger would've changed his mind and allowed The Catcher in the Rye been adapted to the screen. I believe Dean was the only actor ever who would not have just played Holden Caulfield, he was Holden. Dean could have been Hamlet, Gatsby - anything seemed to be possible for him. He possessed the charming sense of humor. Just remember his scene with Abra (Julie Harris) in his very first movie, East of Eden where Harris confesses in having thrown a very expensive ring to the water out of anger at her father, and the ring was never found. Dean smiles with his truly magic smile and says, "Good!" The scene makes me smile and breaks my heart at the same time. Once again, as the ancient myth says, "those whom the gods love die young".
Dean had made three movies only but they all belong to the best of the 50s and they have their place in the history of movies. With this set, each picture comes digitally remastered on 2 discs including multiple commentaries, interesting documentaries, interviews, screen tests, trailers, and more. The set includes Dean's star making debut, "The East of Eden", the movie that made him a timeless idol, "The Rebel without the Cause" and the last one where he shared the screen with Rock Hudson and Liz Taylor, "The Giant". All three are fabulous, and Dean is incredible in all with his vulnerability, charisma, screen presence, and talent.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2005
I just bought the DVD collection today (the day it came out) and I've already rewatched East of Eden and it was an even better experience the second time. The quality is great and exponentially better than the video version. I only wanted EOE and RWAC but when I saw that it was only a few extra dollars for the whole collection I couldn't resist buying all three. Giant, unlike the other two movies, can at best be called a good movie with a lot of flaws, but being a James Dean fan I can overlook most of its short comings. The first half of the movie actually border on greatness but the final half almost bring the movie down to mediocrity. There are some good bonus features and having all three James Dean classics on DVD for a good price is well worth it and highly recommendable.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2009
Since the transfer quality is fantastic and the dvds are loaded with extras, there is nothing to complain about. The movies, obviously, are fantastic. Dean delivers three terrific performances. What's not to like?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2008
I'm a huge James Dean fan. When I was in LA and went to the observatory I could not believe I was walking where he had. This collection exceeded my expectations. The extra CD's to each move were just want I wanted. The one associated with East of Eden was my favorite. If you are a fan you will be happy with this. If you have not been exposed to him this is the best and you get all three extra's about him the making of the films, other performers and people who knew him talking about knowing him, and working with him. I am so happy I ordered this and what a future he could have had if he had lived. He would only have gotten better in time. It was said that had he lived that Brando would have had true completion. I am a fan of Method acting and he put himself body and soul into his characters. Irreplaceable.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2007
I am a big James Dean fan and have collected many books, documentaries and so forth on his life. The Complete James Dean Collection has to be the epitome of the finest collect of memorabilia about the various films in this set that I have ever seen. The films have been redone and are the finest renditions I have ever seen. I really noticed the quality in my home theatre on the wide screen. What a joy to see these films come to life again with such clarity and quality. The original elements for Rebel Without A Cause were destroyed or lost at the studio at some point so all the Rebel films are from a print, but my oh my what they have done with it just working from that 35MM print. Buy this collection , enjoy these films and celebrate James Dean's life and work for years to come.