General Electric Theater (1953–1962)
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I'm a Fool 

A man tells the story of his coming to adulthood when he left home at age 18 and learned the consequences of telling a lie to impress a girl.


Don Medford


Sherwood Anderson (short story), Arnold Schulman (adaptation)




Episode credited cast:
Eddie Albert ... Narrator
James Dean ... The Boy
Natalie Wood ... Lucy
Roy Glenn ... Burt
Eve March ... Mother
Leon Tyler Leon Tyler ... Wilbur
Gloria Castillo ... Elinor
Fiona Hale Fiona Hale ... Mildred
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ronald Reagan ... Self - Host


A man tells the story of his coming to adulthood when he left home at age 18 and learned the consequences of telling a lie to impress a girl.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama


Did You Know?


This is the first of two appearances James Dean did for "General Electric Theater" His second appearance was in the December 12, 1954 teleplay, "The Dark, Dark Hours", which co-starred future President of the United States, Ronald Reagan and Constance Ford. Ronald Reagan introduced James Dean both times. See more »


Burt: You better learn, this boy: You are what you are and they are what they are.
Burt: The look on your face when you seen that girl. Ha! Ha! Ha! You should have seen it boy.
The Boy: Burt. I don't want you to call me boy no more.
See more »


Version of I'm a Fool (1977) See more »

User Reviews

Bragging Rights and Wrongs
1 August 2008 | by wes-connorsSee all my reviews

In this short drama, James Dean takes on Sherwood Anderson's restless Ohio youth. Writer Anderson's "I'm a Fool" originally appeared in his collection "Horses and Men"; and, the author is known to have influenced John Steinbeck, who authored of "East of Eden". Mr. Dean completed the film version of writer Steinbeck's "Eden" over the summer (it was not yet released). Natalie Wood appears in this "Fool", cast as the young woman Dean falls in love with. Ms. Wood would soon start filming "Rebel Without a Cause"; so, this is almost a "try-out" for "Rebel". In a completely unrelated event, "Fool" was re-made for PBS, in 1976, with Ron Howard and Amy Irving; although, Ms. Irving appeared almost simultaneously in William Bast's biography "James Dean".

In "I'm a Fool", Dean plays "The Boy" aka "Walter Mathers" alongside Eddie Albert's on-screen narration of the same character. It's an interesting, but not altogether successful, juxtaposition. Although each performs well, Dean and Albert do not truly seem like the same character. The play is also "impressionistic" in technique; for example, you will see characters walking around partial and painted sets. This does, at times, distract from the story, which concerns the consequences of Dean's lying to impress Wood's "Lucy Wessen". Wood performs exceptionally well with Dean, and they look great together; this was not a commonly found feature with Dean's female TV co-stars. Wood was wisely signed to appear with Dean on the big screen.

Though rendered slightly inaccessible in its state and style, the story is a good one. Albert and Dean convey the tragedy of foolishness. Roy Glenn (as Burt) is terrific in his supporting role. When this teleplay was repeated, on November 18, 1956, then host Ronald Reagan appeared in a new introduction, which included him saying "those of us who worked with Jimmy Dean." It seems like a foolish enough claim to include in the script; but, Mr. Reagan did co-star with Dean, in another television drama.

****** I'm a Fool (11/14/54) Don Medford ~ James Dean, Eddie Albert, Natalie Wood, Roy Glenn

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Release Date:

14 November 1954 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

MCA See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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