‘He died in his own rebellion’
James Dean and Rebel Without a Cause
in Screening the Hollywood rebels in 1950s Britain
Abstract only
Log-in for full text

Chapter 3 is concerned with the posthumous fame of James Dean, who predeceased the theatrical release of Rebel Without a Cause. Evoking the discourses of Americanisation, the chapter argues that the BBFC not only wanted to reduce excessive screen violence but also to remove the American vernacular from the film. They tried to mute the excessive emotionality of Dean’s interpretation of method acting, fully accommodated in his role as the high school rebel, Jim Stark. The chapter chronicles the protracted dispute between the BBFC, which believed that Dean’s portrayal of a middle-class delinquent was unnecessarily glamorous, and Hollywood producers who believed that the newly modified British version of the film did not warrant the restrictive X certificate. Furthermore, the chapter illustrates the ways in which the British media (reluctantly) accommodated the teenage fascination for the dead Hollywood star in a blaze of publicity, which matched, then surpassed, the reaction of Rudolph Valentino’s fans to his sudden death in 1927. By focusing on British Deanagers – as his fans were named –this chapter presents an alternative fan history. British teenagers expressed sincere, heartfelt reactions – even despair – for Dean’s loss. Planning pilgrimages to his birthplace, imitating his fashion and style, writing poetry and plays about him, British Deanagers adulated the dead American star in spite of the opposition (and bemusement) of an older generation. The chapter uncovers the British media’s determined ‘campaign’ to juxtapose American Deanagers as ‘morbidly obsessed’ and prurient whilst recasting British fan reaction as cool-headed, intellectual and non-sexual.


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 112 112 0
Full Text Views 1 1 0
PDF Downloads 1 1 0