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James Dean (2001)

TV Movie  |  PG  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  4 August 2001 (USA)
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A biopic about the actor James Dean, whose stardom of the ultimate teenage rebel as well as the premature death made him a legend. His roles are depicted having much in common with his ... See full summary »



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Title: James Dean (TV Movie 2001)

James Dean (TV Movie 2001) on IMDb 7.4/10

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Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 5 wins & 21 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Winton Dean
Raymond Massey
Billy Rose
Barry Primus ...
Daniel Mann
Martin Landau (as Sam Gould)
Amy Rydell ...
Christine White
Julie Harris (as Wendy Benson)
Mrs. Pierangeli
James Whitmore


A biopic about the actor James Dean, whose stardom of the ultimate teenage rebel as well as the premature death made him a legend. His roles are depicted having much in common with his personal life, most notably the difficult relationship with his father. Written by Mario

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Forever Young. See more »


Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for mild language | See all certifications »


Official Sites:



Release Date:

4 August 2001 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

James Dean: An Invented Life  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (DVD)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Brendan Fraser was considered for the role of James Dean. See more »


James Dean's mother seems to have been treated by a mechanical ventilator in what would have been 1940. The first positive pressure ventilators were not available until the 1950s. If mechanically ventilated, she would have been in a negative pressure "iron lung" as was used for polio victims of that era. See more »


[about an audition]
Martin Landau: You never know. I mean look at me; when I tried out for "Tennesse Williams" I thought I was terrible.
James Dean: You were terrible... you didn't get the part
Martin Landau: Just a detail.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Most of this film was based on fact... some was an educated guess. See more »


Referenced in Jersey Girl (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

Typical TV Biography
18 December 2005 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

This film biography of 1950's Hollywood legend James Dean highlights his public life and the estranged relationship that he had with his father. Other aspects of his private life are merely hinted at, probably because to cover them honestly and forthrightly might have alienated some TV viewers. And so, the cinematic result here is shallow and superficial.

The film stars James Franco, as Dean. Most viewers adore Franco's performance. Certainly, he has Dean's mannerisms down pat. Franco does a good imitation of Dean. But Franco's acting is a little too affecting, a little too shallow, to be persuasive, in my opinion. In addition, Franco seems too young and innocent, compared to the real James Dean, a person who looked older than his years, and more sophisticated.

Actually, it is the secondary performances that lift the film's overall acting quality. Edward Herrmann, Mark Rydell, and especially Michael Moriarty are terrific in their roles. Other secondary performances are also quite good.

Despite a superficial, and sanitized, script, and despite Franco's mannered performance, the film is mildly entertaining, thanks to great production design, realistic costumes, excellent film editing, and the acting in secondary roles. The photographic stills of Hollywood and Manhattan, when combined with the jazzy background music, add authenticity to the story's settings, and therefore depth and texture to the film.

For viewers who know little or nothing about the real James Dean, this superficial flick is worth watching, with the proviso that the film touches only on the most obvious aspects of Dean's life. A lot is left out. A longer, more in-depth, script would have perhaps yielded a more realistic, and therefore satisfying, film.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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