13 April 2014 10:00 PM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

As newly restored versions of James Dean's three films come to BFI Southbank, John Patterson reflects on the star's enduring acting style

What if he'd lived, James Byron Dean? What if he'd never ploughed his Porsche Spyder into that oncoming station wagon, had won his auto race that afternoon in Paso Robles, and gone back to work after the weekend to reshoot his final drunk scene from Giant, the one he'd botched the week before?

Would he have had Paul Newman's career: expertly managed, disciplined, intelligent, building himself year upon year towards the iconic status he finally achieved, and two-page spread obits on his death? It's not implausible to think of Newman as someone who benefited directly from Dean's death he inherited Dean's role in the 1956 boxing picture Somebody Up There Likes Me or as an actor who many times in the late 50s and 60s played characters (Hud, »

- John Patterson

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