Happy Birthday James Dean

tumblr_nbuj61SjqY1rerml7o1_128084 years ago today James Dean was born. He would go on to be one of the most successful actors in Hollywood and yet he only made three films in under two years. All though his career was short lived due to his untimely death at the age of 24 he became a star that the young people of the 50’s could relate to. The film Rebel Without a Cause still strikes a chord with the youth of today. Dean’s style would become iconic and his short life would be looked at time and time again in relation to his sexual orientation and his memorable style. He is truly a legend in his own rights, achieving in five years what many actors didn’t in their entire careers. He earned the respect of his fellow actors and crews and of his fans both young and old.

The 50’s really was the best time for Dean to be an actor on the big screen. His three staring films are practically classics and I hope that everyone has watched at least one.

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3786205157_591149762b_o1East of Eden was the first he got main billing for in 1955. Aged 24 he starred in this take of John Steinbeck’s book of the same name. As a young guy himself he really showed his maturity in this film as it is loosely based on the Biblical story of Cain and Abel. We see Dean go through love and hate towards his father and brother. He tries his hardest to gain his fathers approval and it is so very convincing that when, at the end, he achieves the approval and love he craves you can’t help but smile. Many reviewers said this was Dean’s best ever performance and the Academy Awards saw fit to award him an Oscar for his acting role in 1956. He was the first person to receive a posthumous nomination.

Soon after in 1955 he’d star in another film where he’d be vying after the affections andMV5BMTg2ODcxOTU1OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzA3ODI1MDE@._V1_SX640_SY720_ attentions of a father figure. Rebel Without a Cause will be his most recognisable film where he played teenager Jim Stark opposite teenage stars Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo. The film is a masterpiece and sees Dean portray eerily perfectly the raw feelings felt by the middle class youth. He has such an expressive face and way of acting that works perfectly in all the high emotion scenes. His red jacket and quiff became staple requirements for many men of the 50’s. The story works well for Dean because of his age and he works wonderfully onscreen with Wood and Mineo making this a performance that will never be forgotten. Unfortunately Dean never saw the completed film, Warner Brothers released it less than a month after he’d died.

 

tumblr_n2uhd90gcu1s0lxi0o1_500His last film was released in 1956 and took a completely different road to his previous two films. Giant saw him play a stable hand who strikes it rich with oil, not the young person he feared he’d be typecast as. In Giant you see Dean’s dedication to the film and the art of acting by actually dying his hair grey to portray the ageing of his character. He stars opposite stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson in the film and he bounces off them perfectly. Giant itself was released around a year after his death and someone had to dub some of his lines in production because of his sudden death. Again he received a posthumous Academy Award and if you watch the film you’ll agree it was well deserved.

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Even though James Dean only starred in three films he made three films that can be watched by anyone. His talent was a massive part of his short success and so was his iconic image. He will be remembered for a very long time and hopefully his films will be remembered as well as his fast life and tragic death have been.

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Happy Birthday Natalie Wood!

tumblr_n46rh73juW1qa70eyo1_500Today would have been Natalie Wood’s 76th birthday! I love this woman and not just because I was named after her.

She started acting at an early age and there is so much more to her than the suspicious circumstances surrounding her early death by drowning in 1981. She was her own woman with a life very much lived in the limelight. Her marriages to Robert Wagner never took away from her stardom.

Natalie was a true beauty of the golden era and all the way through her career. She remained professional in her work and Orson Welles once commented that Wood’s professionalism when she was a child was “so good, she was terrifying.”

In celebration of her birthday I’m going to tell you about some of my favourite parts she played throughout her career.

 

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

In Natalie’s first ever starring role, aged 9, she plays Susan Walker a girl brought up not to tumblr_n842dtGJZf1snmmclo1_500believe in fairytales but when she meets Kris Kringle at Macy’s Department store finds that Santa could actually be real. I doubt I need to tell you much about the storyline. Miracle on 34th Street is a Thanksgiving and Christmas classic. You’ve probably all watched the 1994 version with Mara Wilson playing Susan but this version is just as magical. Wood’s performance is heartfelt and very real.

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Rebel Without A Cause (1955)

tumblr_n5kpba5vMR1rerml7o1_1280.pngThis is one of my all time favourite films and one of the very few that stars James Dean. The film is about teenagers, rebellion and a time of decay for American teenagers. When you watch it it’s eerie how true some of the situations seem to be, even today. Wood plays Judy who we see in the Police Station with Jim (Dean) at the beginning of the film. Their relationship grows slowly but the portrayal is perfect for delinquent teenagers. Rebel Without A Cause is one of the first films where we see Wood flung into varying emotional scenes and still at such a young age, she was only 17 at the time.

 

West Side Story (1961)

Okay I know she doesn’t sing herself but this is probably one of the films everyone tumblr_n02kmiI17k1s5bh5uo1_500associates with Natalie Wood. West Side Story is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, Natalie plays Maria against Richard Beymer’s Tony. Tensions erupt between Maria’s brothers gang the Sharks and the gang Tony is part of the Jets. The characters are portrayed very well and Wood’s acting is quite similar to her work in Rebel Without A Cause. Even her dancing and dubbing for her singing seems realistic. The emotion though out the film seems to make her role stronger, especially with the end tragedy.

 

There are other fantastic films Natalie Wood starred in so if you get chance have a watch of Gypsy (1962), Sex and the Single Girl (1964), Marjorie Morningstar (1958) and The Great Race (1965). You won’t be disappointed with the comedy, drama and cast involved in each.

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Arts Spotlight: Dawn Leadbitter

Inspiration strikes artists in very different ways. Their past can take hold and influence what they create while the current surroundings can also be an impact. This all rings true for Doncaster artist Dawn Leadbitter who quite possibly wouldn’t have … Continue reading

What a Hollywood birthday weekend!

This is a belated birthday announcement! This weekend (8th-10th) as seen some great Hollywood stars celebrate their birthdays (or would have been birthdays.) Continue reading

Updates- What’s on, “Well Did You Evah’s.” To do List- January/February

Christmas is now officially out of the way… For some people, I’ve just witnessed mince pies been baked and eaten a piece of Christmas cake so it is debatable.

This post is about somethings that are on the Well Did You Evah’s team’s agenda’s. Some of them there will be a blog posted about them, or they could just be important dates related to this blog.

1. Meet Mutter Oskar. 

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This project has been talked about a lot. Mutter Oskar is going to be Well Did You Evah’s Agony Aunt… Only Mutter Oskar is a fox. Get in contact with your questions, they can be anything, from films to see to relationship issues. She along with research will answer them as best as she can.

2. Valentines Day

Yes that day, where couples are supposed to get all lovey dovey and single people are expected to be depressed… Valentine’s day is basically named after a guy who was killed so I think being depressed may be a relevant expression.

        On Well Did You Evah’s list we are focusing on fictional couples (Are there any better type of couple?) for Valentines day. We will be giving you an overall review on each of the couples relationship, How it worked as a story, how it was effective, what could have been changed etc. On our preliminary list we have planned two blog posts. 1. Which focuses on fictional BOOK couples. Sneak peek at the list- Dimitri and Rose, (Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy) Hades and Persephone (Kaitlin Bevis’ Persephone) ImageAlexander and Raven (Ellen Schreiber’s Vampire Kisses), Pierce and John (Meg Cabot’s Underworld) and Christian and Ana (E.L. James’ Fifty Shades (Oh Yes I am going there)) Are all on the list for our Valentine themed review. 2. Film Couples- This is going to be our Valentine’s day post. We are picking couples from and in films- possibly TV series- and doing the same as book couples. Sneak peek at the list? Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, Howl and Sophie (Howl’s Moving Castle) Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler (Doctor Who) Are just a few on the current list.

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3. Berlin related stuffs. 

Natalie and me are going to Berlin for 5 days on Monday (21st of January) So hopefully we will come back with a few things to tell you about.

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4. Important, Well Did You Evah, Dates. 

20th January- 20 years since Actress Audrey Hepburn died

1st February- Actor Clark Gable’s Birthday

2nd February- 17 years since Gene Kelly died

5th February- Studio Ghibli creator/director Hayao Miyazaki’s Birthday

8th February- Actor James Dean’s Birthday

19th February- 30 years since Silent Film Actress Alice White Died.      MY birthday!

27th February- 20 years since Actress Lillian Gish died

That’s the main 4 things discussed, basically when our holiday is over (on Friday 25th) and we get back we have a fair few things to write about.

If you want to get involved either to

  • Ask Mutter Oskar questions
  • Add suggestions about what we can review, about the blog etc
  • Or even to write your own review for this blog

Get in touch!