Documentary (1953) 208 minutes ~ Black & White
“I used to fly around quite a bit. Took a lot of unnecessary chances on the highways. And I started racing. And now I drive on the highways, and I’m extra cautious.” – James Dean James Dean Era doesn’t really capture the Zeitgeist of the ’50s as it relates to actor James Dean, but it does have several items of interest to Dean’s fans and general nostalgia buffs. The compilation consists of a CD and DVD bundled together with colorful packaging and lengthy liner notes. The audio disc has an assortment of hits and obscurities drawn from varied sources: many of the rockabilly obscurities come from Lost Gold’s Original Historic Rockabilly Classics series; Elvis Presley’s live version of “That’s Alright Mama” is taken from his Louisiana Hayride performances; the Marilyn Monroe cut seems to have been lifted directly from a film soundtrack, as were the two bongo instrumentals performed by Dean himself. The songs are interspersed with brief soundbites of preachers and community leaders decrying rock & roll. The DVD contains three rare television theater pieces in which Dean appeared, several commercials and movie trailers, and a tragically ironic PSA in which Dean promotes safe driving. Unfortunately for Dean’s fans, James Dean Era was withdrawn from release when it turned out that the San Juan Music Group that supplied many of the recordings had no legal claim to the music; the company subsequently declared bankruptcy just before getting slapped with a multi-million dollar judgment for copyright infringement.
Director: Don Medford, Justus Addiss
Stars: James Dean, Natalie Wood, Eddie Albert, Ronald Reagan, Gig Young, Susan Douglas, Don Hanker, Robert Middletown, Frank Maxwell, Murvyn Vye, Edgar Stehli, Pat Hardy