Saturday, September 29, 2012

Dean on Dean

I discovered James Dean my sophomore year of college. I was working at a video store and plowing through my obsessive list on Oscar-nominated movies, when I decided to give East of Eden a go. I'd loved the book when I read it in high school, which had been prompted by my earlier love for the miniseries with Jane Seymour (does anybody remember that? Man, I feel old). I knew the movie version would be different, but I didn't know by how much.

I fell in love.

Okay. I fell in obsession.

Do you know how hard it is to be obsessed with a dead actor from the 50s who only did three movies in a day and age before the Internet was widespread? I had to rely on finding books to fill in the gaps of my knowledge. In Michigan. Before Amazon. I did, of course, because I was just that determined.  At one point, I had such a huge Dean archive, I had to hide it from my then-boyfriend for fear of looking crazy. And it's weird, but neither of his other two movies got to me the way East of Eden did. For whatever reason, that one hit a chord at just the right time.

My love for Dean waned over the years. I broke up my Dean library before moving to the UK to get married (because there's nothing like evaluating your pack rat tendencies like paying for overseas shipping on your belongings), and my obsession became just a happy memory.

But I still smiled like a schoolgirl when I saw this gallery of Dean pictures from Life magazine. Some of them are cultural icons. A couple I'd never even seen before. All of them made me nostalgic, for my more carefree college years, for the young man whose life was cut too short, for simpler times gone by.