“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 (1955) 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.