19 August 2001 | Deaner99
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly!
Mark Rydell's "James Dean" has some good things going for it. It also has some serious flaws because it ventured into areas which were completely speculative and inaccurate. Going for this TNT movie is the performance of young James Franco as James Dean. Franco's performance was more imitation than interpretation, but Franco had Dean's mannerisms and motions down pat. Michael Moriarity as Winton Dean and Sam Gould as Martin Landau also gave strong performances. The film captured the pathos of Dean's early life due to the death of his mother and rejection by his father-- emotional blows from which Dean never fully recovered. The "bad" and downright "ugly" about this production are the many glaring inaccuracies about Dean's life. Any serious Dean researcher could rip this production to shreds on that basis. (But I won't!) I'll even resist the temptation to write a laundry list of inaccuracies because I don't want to spoil this movie for anyone. (If you want to know, email me.)
I agree with others comments that this should have been a two part (or more) miniseries. With the plethora of commercials, the length couldn't have been more than 90 minutes of actual footage. Many interesting and important parts of Dean's life were given short shrift by this production. However, if this TV movie can ignite interest in Dean among people who have no idea about him, then it has served its purpose. I do hope that people will not take this Hollywood production at face value. Dean's real life was far more interesting than this production showed and he was a far more complex , talented, and tormented individual than he was depicted in this movie. I hope that this movie will serve as a springboard for others to discover through reading, viewing Dean's movies, and researching, the life of this fascinating American Icon.