(Turner, Osgood, A Queer Look About Him: Images of Male Beauty in the Cinema, 1997, p. 15-21)
As bizarre as the idea may seem today, James Dean’s film career was almost completely dormant when he met Andy Warhol in 1964. His first three starring roles—East of Eden, Rebel Without A Cause, and Giant—are properly legendary, but following Dean’s near-fatal 1955 car accident, shortly after wrapping Giant, his behavior became even more erratic than it already had been. With the lone exception of his critically acclaimed turn in the film adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (during which a frequently late and inebriated Dean feuded with co-stars Elizabeth Taylor and Burl Ives, director Richard Brooks, and even Williams himself), the once-golden star went from flop to flop and by 1961, was persona non grata in Hollywood. Jean-Luc Godard toyed with the idea of casting Dean in Le Mepris, but the role eventually went to Jack Palance after Dean failed to even catch the flight to Paris for the meeting (a slight which prompted several comments from Godard that were scathing even by his usual standard).
“He was like a beautiful ghost,” Warhol famously said of his first meeting with Dean, which happened to also be at the American Supermarket installation, the famous statement on the commodification of art. “I don’t know how Jimmy ended up there, or who invited him, unless it was God, because he could just as easily have been a piece in the show.”
Dean at the time was in the early stages of his long struggle with heroin addiction, and having blown through his earnings from his 50s stardom was supporting himself as a prostitute. Warhol was fascinated by him and spent the next several years shooting thousands upon thousands of feet of 16mm black & white footage of Dean, both alone and paired with other Warhol associates, primarily Edie Sedgwick and Nico, although the most famous sequence in what would become Warhol’s most celebrated film, Icon, was a smolderingly erotic improvised scene set in the Chelsea Hotel with transgender actress Candy Darling. One of the landmark moments in queer cinema history, the shot of Dean in a sleeveless undershirt at the foot of the bed, gaunt, wraith-like, with Darling’s foot (the only part of her visible) playfully teasing his hip is of equal stature in Dean’s iconography with the red jacket Rebel Without A Cause still.
Mainstream film work remained non-existent for the now-older Dean at the start of the 1970s, although he continued to be a central figure in the Warhol orbit and starred in Paul Morrissey’s cult favorite Whore, featuring an explicit (rumored to be unsimulated) sex scene with co-star Joe Dallesandro, and based on Dean’s own experiences in the mid-60s. The changing culture found Dean, while still a commercial non-entity, an even bigger celebrity than he had been at his 1955-6 peak. While Dean still steadfastly refused to label his sexuality, he was nontheless embraced by the emergent queer movement as one of their own, which Dean did nothing to actively discourage. He cultivated the enigmatic nature of his public persona, giving no public interviews (a policy dating back to the 50s), leaving writers and critics only to speculate on his motivations and the meaning of his work.
Dean’s last chance at a mainstream role came, following former rival Marlon Brando’s tragic New Year’s Day 1976 death in a Tahitian boating accident, when Francis Ford Coppola approached him to play the pivotal role of Kurtz in Apocalypse Now. Dean spent months agonizing over the decision to take the role or not, while Coppola anxiously waited, going over budget before even rolling camera, and then having to begin filming without having Dean under contract. The actor finally consented, to a notoriously lavish fee especially considering Dean not having appeared in a Hollywood film in almost fifteen years. The non-Dean-related aspects of the shoot were, to coin the most profound understatement in critical discourse, difficult. Dean did little to make things easier on the production, clashing with star Martin Sheen (whose breakthrough performance in Terrence Malick’s Badlands was based on Dean) over Dean’s introduction of homoerotic subtext into their concluding scenes. The documentary Hearts of Darkness captured one of the only extant instances of Dean explaining his creative process, insisting to Sheen that the terror Kurtz exerted over Willard was in part sexual: “Where’s Willard with a woman? Kurtz is who he wants, and he has to kill him rather than face that!”
Dean’s friendship with Warhol endured until the latter’s death in 1987. The famously reticent Dean spoke briefly at the funeral, crediting Warhol with giving him “a second chance at life.” Truly, Warhol’s efforts were almost wholly responsible for sustaining Dean’s status as a celebrity, rendering Dean into every bit as mythic an entity and as publicly traded a commodity as he had Marilyn Monroe. Upon Dean’s death from liver failure in 1991, the most-used image was of Warhol’s 1966 silkscreen “Jimmy,” of an exhausted, ravaged, yet still beautiful face, looking into the very soul of whoever looked into it, having seen the abyss up close yet desperately, insistently alive.
via Danny Bowes
I want a superhero movie where the hero dies in the first ten minutes and the woman who was supposed to be the love interest puts on his costume and becomes an even better hero.
I want all of the advertising to be for the hero and none of the marketing to even allude to this death.
imagine all the male tears
why does this have 32k notes? it’s just a picture of a knife in a ranch bottle, is there some unspoken joke that 32 thousand people share? what is going on here, i dont get it. it’s just a fucking picture of a knife in a ranch bottle. is there some spiritual connection people have to this picture? is there some ominous and mystical reasoning that this has 32 thousand notes? do people reblog this because it makes them look like some indie blogger? or is there just something funny to this? someone please explain
no one tell him