“Life imitates art around here, let me tell you.”
Teenager “Jimmy J.” (Richard Thomas) is devastated when he hears the news of James Dean’s untimely death. He and his ex-girlfriend (Lisa Blount) host a late-night vigil in Dean’s honor, which quickly turns to tragedy.
- James Bridges Films
- Obsessive Fans
- Untimely Death
Response to Peary’s Review:
While Peary claims that this “odd film” makes for “uncomfortable viewing”, I disagree. Unlike Peary, I didn’t find it “hard not to get exasperated with Jimmy J.” — and while the “concept of star-worship and star-identification” is indeed “scary”, I didn’t necessarily think that Jimmy could have controlled his grief any better. Indeed, Jimmy’s idolatry of Dean reflects the need we all have to project our fantasies and fears onto larger-than-life heroes; his grief rings true. As Peary notes, “What’s most striking is how the film conveys the sadness, loneliness, and frustration that a teenager feels when no one shares his emotions about something meaningful.” Particularly poignant scenes include the opening scene, as Jimmy J. is watching East of Eden for the third time:
and the final scene, when Jimmy J. describes Rebel Without a Cause to Billie Jean:
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Richard Thomas as Jimmy J.
- Fine cinematography and period detail
No, but it’s worth seeking out for one-time viewing.