Worthwhile for the wealth of hitherto unseen clips from many TV shows in which James Dean cut his acting teeth, “James Dean: Forever Young” is nevertheless the squarest and straightest (in both senses) possible telling of the still dazzling icon’s brief life. Like all other Dean bios, written and filmed, this one imparts a sadness over potential unfulfilled, but it’s a heavy whitewash where his personal life is concerned. World preemed in Cannes to mark 50th anni of the star’s death, docu will mostly be seen as part of Warner Bros.’ DVD package featuring its three stellar Dean titles.
Some of Dean’s tube work has been glimpsed before, but never to the significant extent provided here. Resulting impression is of a versatile young actor testing his range and stretching into areas that went well beyond the brooding image created by his bigscreen features. Aside from nice color footage of Dean racing cars, loads of candid photographs and a re-enactment of his fatal auto accident, the rest is airbrushed biography that avoids mention of his ambidextrous sexual life or personal peccadilloes. There are no interviews, and Martin Sheen’s narration is dullsville.