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Old August 6th, 2011, 06:14 AM   #1

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Is James Dean over rated?

I've watched all of James Dean's motion pictures. They are good and he is good, but is he over rated? Does he and his work stand up to the test of time? "Rebel without a Cause" seems mild by today's standard.

I get the feeling that if he were alive today, he would be damn sick and tired of talking about "Rebel without a Cause" and would probably be dismissive of it (as some popular rockers are of some their own early efforts). On the other hand, after his death motion pictures became less inhibited, and he would have no doubt benefited from this. I believe he would have probably taken to darker and complex roles in the late 50s and 60s-70s and really would have achieved an incredible artistic level. Of course we will never know. All we have is this small body of work.

I am aware of the perils of judging old films by today's standards (Rebel is mild and quaint in comparison to some of the teen angst movies that have been released). Dean's best work was clearly ahead of him at the time of his death. Or he could have fell from favor. We will never know.

Is James Dean over rated?
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Old August 6th, 2011, 06:43 AM   #2
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As an actor and star, no not over rated. As for the persona that grew around what he did, with and doubt IMO, but I think in such circumstances people bathe in the potential of such people that has been lost.
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Old August 6th, 2011, 06:43 AM   #3

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My favorite is "East of Eden" and I do think this movie gives us a glimpse of what might have happened had he lived. Unfortunately, we'll never know and that is the tragedy.
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Old August 6th, 2011, 06:55 AM   #4

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Dying early always seems to create a permanent buzz about a person's career.
Dean having made only three movies obviously had great potential ahead of him.
But those movies came early in his movie career and they had a pretty solid lineup of
other actors.
I look at Sam Worthington as a semi parallel career. He acted in three decent movies in a row and I don't think anyone would be saying he's up in the 'great' level of acting.
But if he suddenly died after making "Clash of the Titans", I could see him being
moved up on that list based on 'what he might have done' in the future.
Movie careers are fickle. It is a fast ride up and a faster ride down.
I vote overrated, but not too much.
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Old August 8th, 2011, 02:18 AM   #5
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No I dont think so.
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Old August 8th, 2011, 11:40 AM   #6
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Yes, he is over rated. He only made a few films. They were good films, but they just were not enough of them to warrant his legend. If he hadn't died young, not many would have heard of him.
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 11:52 AM   #7
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I was watching another legendary method actor recently in a movie called The Wild One. I couldn't stop laughing.

However, Brando came into his own in the late 60's to early 70's, and gave a few amazing performances. He once said that when he saw On The Waterfront he was embarrassed at how bad he was. I agree. For some reason the method style of the 50's has not aged well, but some of the later method actors like De Niro did some impressive stuff.
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 12:06 PM   #8

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Originally Posted by Pomeroy41144 View Post
but is he over rated?
Oh God yes!
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 12:11 PM   #9

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Considering most younger folks today wouldn't know James Dean from James Carville, yeah, he was probably a bit overrated.

Trivia tidbit: He had terrible vision, which is why he squinted the way he always did.
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 05:32 PM   #10

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Originally Posted by okamido View Post
Oh God yes!

It's relative. Many great film actors (and films) have not dated well.

I think the main reason is acting styles in films as well as on stage have changed several times since silent film days.

As a teen I loved "The Wild One" :

Q (to Brando) "What are you rebelling AGAINST?"

Brando: "Wadya got?"

I loved James Dean in "Rebel Without A Cause"

Both films seem badly dated to me now,as indeed do some favourite films from say the 1930's,40's, 50's '60's and 70's. (No, I'm not THAT old; I saw a LOT of old films on TV as a teen in the 1960s)

Today I admire say Johnny Depp,as one of the best actors of his generation.

Is Depp 'better' than Dean? I don't know. I'd need to see them both acting in a film made in the year, using the same acting style.
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