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James Dean (2001)

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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Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 5 wins & 22 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Pier Angeli
Elia Kazan
Raymond Massey
Hedda Hopper
Billy Rose
Daniel Mann
Samuel Gould ...
Martin Landau (as Sam Gould)
Julie Harris (as Wendy Benson)
Mrs. Pierangeli
David Parker ...
James Whitmore
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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 personal life, most notably the difficult relationship with his father. Written by Mario

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The stars that burn brightest burn quickest 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

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Technical Specs


| (DVD)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


James Dean is seen riding a 650cc Triumph Tiger T110 whilst in New York, a 500cc Triumph Trophy TR5T whilst in California and a Triumph dirt bike whilst at his uncle's farm. James Dean's actual TR5T was found and is on display at the James Dean Museum in Fairmount. See more »


The label on the box James Dean sends, reads "Santa Monica, CA". In the late forties/early fifties it would have read "Santa Monica, Calif." because the two-letter state abbreviations weren't used yet. See more »


Jack Warner: I love you and I hate you.
James Dean: I hate you and I hate you.
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

Excess of Myth Masks a Reality (spoilers)
15 February 2006 | by See all my reviews

The James Dean movie might have been done much better had it been a feature film rather than one susceptible to the limitations of a made for TV movie. That is, where the filmmakers have to be wary of time and probably, content constraints. What we have as a final product, despite a nice performance by James Franco as the legendary James Dean, is little more than celebration of the man as a mythical pop culture icon. Even the more "authentic" emotional moments such as the rocky relationship between the young actor and his estranged father are so tightly bound in overt dramatizations rather than something more lifelike. Everything about James Dean, as portrayed here, seems less like insight into his background and his rise from a poor, Indiana teen to iconic actor who's life was cut short mid-success, and more like James Dean as a piece of staged dramas only adding more to creating a mythical creature and less to explaining a real person.

Consider, for example, if you were a viewer who had known little about James Dean. Perhaps you had watched a few movies or, like Elvis, had always noticed him as the "understood" representation of juvenile disillusionment and delinquency (more the latter than the former, since our culture celebrates rebellion more so than simple dissatisfaction). But after having watched this film, what do you really learn about James Dean? I think the other dilemma of making a film about James Dean is that he was so young and still in the process of rising to fame when he died, that there doesn't seem to be many significant points of his life that can be stretched into an hour and a half film. Here, we do get a little, but not really much to play around with. Other than seeing bits about the girl at the studio he meets and becomes friendly with, the Italian actress he lives with for a while, befriending Martin Landau, and the relationship with his father, there really isn't much to go on. Not knowing much about James Dean, I don't know if there was much in his young life that could merit filling the time for a movie. It may be that those who were closest to him that could really give the trivia about his background have passed on. It seems that, if he was as distant as they claim him to be, maybe it was hard to get the story behind the man even by those who knew him in real life. But perhaps this is the reason why the subplot with his father seems so entirely forced.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of style, but very little substance. And it may not have entirely been the fault of the filmmakers.

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