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James Dean: The First American Teenager (1975)

Explores the myth and the man behind it.


Ray Connolly




Cast overview, first billed only:
James Dean ... Self (archive footage)
Stacy Keach ... Narrator (voice)
Carroll Baker ... Self
Leslie Caron ... Self
Adeline Nall Adeline Nall ... Self
Maila Nurmi ... Self
Gene Owen Gene Owen ... Self
Christine White ... Self
Natalie Wood ... Self
Corey Allen ... Self
Sammy Davis Jr. ... Self (as Sammy Davis Jnr)
Dennis Hopper ... Self
Kenneth Kendall Kenneth Kendall ... Self
Jack Larson ... Self
Sal Mineo ... Self


This is a compilation documentary about James Dean and his effect upon succeeding generations of young people over the past twenty years. It is aimed at relating the social significance of James Dean, whilst at the same time giving as thorough an account as is possible of his life. There is no nostalgia here since Dean is as much a hero today as he was in the late 1950's. The film has exclusive rights to sections of Dean's three films for Warner Brothers: East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant; in addition, it contains the first screen test he did for Elia Kazan and other rare film footage, and literally hundreds of still photographs. It also contains interviews with many actors and friends including Caroll Baker, Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo, Dennis Hopper, director Nicholas Ray, Sammy Davis Jr. amongst others. In keeping in view of Dean as a contemporary cultural symbol, the music for the film draws upon material by Elton John, David Bowie, Lou Reed and The Eagles.

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User Reviews

Good Documentary on Dean
21 September 2017 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

James Dean: The First American Teenager (1975)

*** (out of 4)

Dennis Hopper, Maila Nurmi, Carroll Baker, Natalie Wood, Sammy Davis, Jr., Sal Mineo, Jack Larson and Corey Allen are just a few of the people who are interviewed here. This made-for-television documentary takes a look at the quick life of James Dean and the three main films that he made.

For the most part this here is a pretty good documentary on the actor. It's clear that he was a troubled person and several members of those interviewed discuss how even he seems to have been confused by himself. The greatest thing about this documentary is the fact that we get first-hand accounts from people who knew him, dated him and worked with him. THese types of stories are wonderful to hear and especially since a lot of the people are no longer with us.

I would say that the weakest part of this was the fact that there were so many film and television clips. I'm sure in 1975 some of this footage was hard to see but today when all of it is easily available it's rather boring sitting through it here. I'd also argue that using current rock music didn't really help matters. With that said, anyone with interest of Dean should certainly check this out for the interviews.

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Release Date:

30 September 1975 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

James Dean - Ein amerikanisches Idol See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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