If James Dean hadn’t tragically died in a car accident on September 30, 1955, the actor would have been celebrating his 83rd birthday today. With just three leading roles to his name — East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause, and Giant — his iconic status was immortalized, but if one wants to dive deeper into his life and career, we’ve rounded up three worthwhile documentaries.
The first documentary comes from directors Robert Altman and George W. George, released just two years after his death in 1957. Narrated by Martin Gabel, The James Dean Story collects little-seen images from his life and career, as well as compiles interviews with his family, including the aunt and uncle that raised him after his mother passed away when he was 9. There’s also a batch of outtakes from East of Eden, footage of the initial release of Giant, as well as a TV spot the actor did for safe driving.
The next documentary, James Dean Remembered is a little over an hour and aired on TV in 1974, but is also included on the Rebel Without a Cause home release. The film brings together a variety of his collaborators and friends, including Steve Allen, Sammy Davis Jr., Rock Hudson, Peter Lawford, Sal Mineo, Natalie Wood, and Leonard Rosenman. Lastly, we have a great 2002 documentary from Jack Walworth, which was made for A&E and takes another look at his early life and how he broke into the business, along with brief working time and legacy.
Check out all three below, and if you want to see more from the actor whose life was cut short, we highly recommend the recently released Blu-ray collection:
Update: The last two have been removed.
What’s your favorite performance from Dean?
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