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James Dean (TV) More at IMDbPro »

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32 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

James Franco IS James Dean

Author: Wayne119
7 August 2001

"East of Eden" came out when I was 21 and very impressionable, and from then on I was a James Dean fanatic. So were most of my friends, but we didn't see his other two films until after his death. We identified with the roles he played. Cal Trask, Jim Stark, and Jett Rink were just as mixed up and insecure as we were, and James Dean could play those guys because he was mixed up, too. After we saw "Rebel," all of us wanted red jackets like the one he wore in that movie.

In this new movie, a young actor named James Franco plays James Dean, and he beautifully conveys not only the angst and many of the distinctive mannerisms but also some of James Dean's offbeat humor. I suppose one reason Franco was chosen to play Dean is that he looks like him. Not a lot, but there is a resemblance. He could have done a caricature of Dean, but happily he didn't fall into that trap.

Some of the writing was disappointing. The actress who plays Pier Angeli is beautiful and quite good, but what can you do with lines like "You don't understand" and "My mama won't let me"? Those are not her exact lines, but you get what I'm saying.

Dean's relationship with Jack Warner is well done. Also his relationship, or rather his lack of a relationship, with his father. But I kept wishing they'd show more about the making of the films. How did he relate to Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, Carol Baker, Sal Mineo, Natalie Wood? And what were the films about? If I didn't already know James Dean's films, I still wouldn't know much about them after seeing this biography. But maybe I would be inspired to check them out.

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19 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

A Legend Revisited

10/10
Author: (reedo-3)
6 August 2001

James Dean is portrayed by James Franco with a remarkable resemblance in physical appearance and great sensitivity. As the events of James Dean's life unfold in the made for cable film, insight is gained into the enigmatic and tragically short life of the brilliant film star. This production takes in many of the well known accomplishments of James Dean's career and includes significant personal events in his life. The interface with James Dean's father, excellently played by Michael Moriarty, is central to this story. The recognition and appreciation by film industry giants contrasts with the father's lack of regard for his son. A moving performance by James Franco who steps into the shoes of James Dean and makes us love him all the more.

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18 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Marvelous Performances

8/10
Author: Daniel L. Miley from Collegeville, PA
6 August 2001

James Franco gives a marvelous performance as the ultimate anti-hero James Dean. He not only looks like James Dean, he ACTS like James Dean. Michael Moriarty does a good job as James Dean's distant father. The rest of the cast gives solid performances. And the period recreation is realistic. My only complaint is that is the telemovie is a too short, but then again, so was James Dean's life. 8/10

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15 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

A great Interpretation of A Legend

Author: Audrey (emmiemonroe@eminem.com) from Minnesota, USA
5 July 2002

The movie in itself could have been much better. Many of the facts weren't quite right and I agree that it should have been longer. But I don't look at this movie that way, and so I am able to deeply enjoy this movie. For me, what makes this movie work is the way they portray James Dean. I am yet another James Franco admirer for his incredible job in playing Dean, and I also like the way he was looked upon. Since watching this movie I have found myself deeply interested in the Icon and watching all his movies, and even reading a bio on him. And I have found it interesting that everyone who knew him, and even people that didn't know him, all have different interpretations on who James Dean really was. They all see him in a different way. I really like the way he was seen in this TV movie. The writers could have done a better job with the story but did a GREAT job in creating James Dean as they saw him.

This is a good movie for getting a whole new generation of people watching James Dean. This isn't the best movie for people who want to know more about him. For that, go read a book on him, but try not to get too much of a biased one. This is a good movie for going more inside the personality and mind of James Dean. I think whoever chose which way to go with the interpretation must have really liked James Dean when everything comes down to it, as well as the director Mark Rydell.

Great acting by everyone, especially Franco, Mark Rydell (as Jack Warner), and Rydell's daughter Amy Rydell (as Christine). She seemed incredibly likeable, like someone I would want to be friends with. And that's how it seems she really was.

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14 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Bit Off

7/10
Author: james_dean9800
5 August 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

For any of us true James Dean fans obvious it was great to see the story of our icon. When watching this T.V. event it was just as easy to see the things that actually happened compared to the stuff TNT obviously made up.

THE FLAWS- a true James Dean historian as myself would know that the end meeting between Jim and his father never did happen. Another major part the movie never touched upon was his childhood life (9-18) with his aunt and uncle. The major part of James life they never touched upon was his bisexuality. The movie only slightly addresses the point indirectly. In real life he obviously going both ways were he was with both men and omen( even his first sexual experience was with a man, when he was a child in Indiana (which was also his priest)). THE GOODS- despite the flaws the movie also had parts that were true to life. The one seen when he was making Eden and he was working with Raymond Massey were he was told to kiss him was true. All the cars used in the movie were also true, along with the motorcycles he drove.

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly!

Author: Deaner99 from Scottsdale, AZ
19 August 2001

Mark Rydell's "James Dean" has some good things going for it. It also has some serious flaws because it ventured into areas which were completely speculative and inaccurate. Going for this TNT movie is the performance of young James Franco as James Dean. Franco's performance was more imitation than interpretation, but Franco had Dean's mannerisms and motions down pat. Michael Moriarity as Winton Dean and Sam Gould as Martin Landau also gave strong performances. The film captured the pathos of Dean's early life due to the death of his mother and rejection by his father-- emotional blows from which Dean never fully recovered. The "bad" and downright "ugly" about this production are the many glaring inaccuracies about Dean's life. Any serious Dean researcher could rip this production to shreds on that basis. (But I won't!) I'll even resist the temptation to write a laundry list of inaccuracies because I don't want to spoil this movie for anyone. (If you want to know, email me.)

I agree with others comments that this should have been a two part (or more) miniseries. With the plethora of commercials, the length couldn't have been more than 90 minutes of actual footage. Many interesting and important parts of Dean's life were given short shrift by this production. However, if this TV movie can ignite interest in Dean among people who have no idea about him, then it has served its purpose. I do hope that people will not take this Hollywood production at face value. Dean's real life was far more interesting than this production showed and he was a far more complex , talented, and tormented individual than he was depicted in this movie. I hope that this movie will serve as a springboard for others to discover through reading, viewing Dean's movies, and researching, the life of this fascinating American Icon.

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14 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

James Franco gave an AWESOME performance in James Dean

10/10
Author: A_E_W from Australia
26 November 2005

James Franco did a completely spectacular job in James Dean and with the performance he gave he has really set the bar for all actors everywhere, from the past and for years to come. I have a lot a trouble believing anyone will ever be able to beat that performance and he really made me open my eyes to him. In my opinion he is the greatest actor the world has ever seen and I have a feeling no one will ever be able to change that. Not only did he become my favourite actor after seeing the movie but at the same time I've become jealous that someone could have so much talent. Keep up the good work Jimmy, many people are excepting great things from you now. Three words - "James is King."

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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Wonderful

9/10
Author: Phoenix-107
5 August 2001

Wonderful. James Franco brilliantly channels James Dean in what is easily one of the best made-for-television movies ever made. Franco delivers a knockout performance in his portrayal of one of the most celebrated teen idols of all time.

The movie opens with Dean filming a scene from East of Eden, adding his own personal twist to the shot. A focused relationship of this film is the one between Dean and his father. After Dean's mother dies when Dean is only 9 years old, he is sent to live with his aunt and uncle. His father seems to be embarassed by him, and will not invite him into his home. Eventually, Dean's father will not see him at all.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with this movie, and hope that from beyond the grave, Dean is watching, and smiling. Franco's next big role is that of Peter Parker's best friend Harry Osborn in the big-budget superhero flick Spider-Man, and I for one cannot wait.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Hit and Miss

Author: RitchCS from Ft. Lauderdale, Fl.
5 August 2001

I watched this film with the idea I was going to hate it as I have all other attempts to recreate the life of James Dean, especially the one starring Casper Van Dien, which was deplorable. But the new TNT won me over more times than it missed. Without being aware, I discovered an occasional tear running down my cheek. James Franco did as well as anyone could to play James Dean. The times when he lost me were when Mark Rydell had him smile, full view with a horrible set of teeth. I realize this is picky, but if something is noticeable to break your concentration, then it is wrong. I wish Ted Turner had made this a two-nighter. There were scenes that could be expanded, especially with Lee Strasberg and Elia Kazan. I would've like to've seen more off-camera interaction between James and Julie Harris...and later on, when he became friends with Elizabeth Taylor and an enemy of Rock Hudson, two people that played predominant roles in the final days of James' life. Mark Rydell, who also directed, was marvelous a dead-ringer for Jack Warner. All and all I'd have to give it 2 1/2 stars out of four. It skimmed James's biography and could have had more depth, rather than playing on a sordid father-son relationship based on speculation. But thank God, Mark Rydell didn't spend to whole two hours exploiting James' relationship with Pier Angeli as the Van Dien version did, just to reinforce James Dean's preference for heterosexuality. I would love for Ted Turner to put out a three or four hour version of this same movie on DVD...I bet a lot of good scenes are lying on the editor's floor. All and all...pretty good show! (but could have been great without having to trim the movie for commercials).

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Typical TV Biography

5/10
Author: Lechuguilla from Dallas, Texas
18 December 2005

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.

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