Looking back over half a century to the meteoric career of James Dean, the one thing that now seems obvious is that the boy was as queer as a coot. It wouldn’t matter a scrap if he hadn’t also been groomed to perform vulnerable young male innocence, tormented by inchoate yearnings for heroism, freedom, and true love with the right girl. The studio made sure that he acted it out in real life by supplying him with starlets to be seen with in public.
After he wrote himself off, 50 years ago this September, in his new Porsche 550 Spyder at the age of 24 on a highway near Salinas, there was no reality left to intrude on the myth. Robert Altman, then a naive outsider in Hollywood, was given the job of making a black-and-white pseudo-documentary based on the account of Dean’s life, fashioned by William Bast, Dean’s “closest friend and room-mate for five years”. Altman’s film presents Dean as the studios wanted him to be remembered. He is adolescent torment personified, his the loneliness of every male trapped between childhood and manhood. Dean would be forever the boy who “belonged to no one”.
by The Punjapit Alliance