People You Should Know About: James Dean

james dean

James Dean was born February 8, 1931 in Fairmount, Indiana.

In 1955, he starred in the movies East of Eden and Rebel Without A Cause.

He would only live to see the release of one of these films.

On September 30, 1955, he was killed in a car accident.  He was only 24 years old.

The year after, 1956, his last film Giant was released and he became the first actor to be nominated for an Academy Award posthumously.

Even though his career and his life were tragically short, the impact that Dean has had on popular culture is absolutely amazing.

Today, he would have been 82 years old.  But it’s hard to imagine what James Dean would have looked like had he lived to an old age.  He will forever be immortalized as the rebel without a cause, the lost boy.

He was a damn good actor, and today, I honor his memory by reviewing East of Eden, Rebel Without A Cause, and Giant.

Happy Birthday, James Dean!

Advertisements

Movies You Should Know About: Psycho (1960)

Can you imagine my surprise upon finding out that my American Themes class was going to be dedicated to the study of American horror movies this semester?  This is just perfect, especially since Halloween is coming round the bend pretty soon.  And what was the first movie we had to watch for class?  If you guessed Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, you would be correct!

Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), an office secretary, sees an opportunity and takes it.  What is this opportunity?  Stealing $40,000 from her employer.  As she is driving with the money to meet her boyfriend in California, she stops at the Bates Motel to rest and meets the awkward, lanky, momma’s boy Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins).

 

Hitchcock had this thing where he loved to control and manipulate his audience.  Some of the ways he did this were:

  1. By not allowing people who showed up late in to see the movie.
  2. The whole beginning of the movie, basically.

If you’ve never seen Psycho and don’t know anything at all about it, chances are you’ll think this movie is about a woman who steals $40,000 and is on the run.  But then OH MY GOD Janet Leigh is murdered a half-hour into the movie and the $40,000 is completely unimportant to any aspect of the plot now!  This is actually pretty amazing, when you think about it and how it completely shocked audiences in 1960.

For the small part that she has in the movie, Janet Leigh is great.  I mean, come on, that shower scene is completely iconic now!

Anthony Perkins was creepy as Norman Bates.  The ironic thing about this is that apparently before he made this movie, he was considered a teen heartthrob.  After the movie, he was type casted as Norman Bates, which was unfortunate.  However he made the character a film icon.

I have to give a nod out to Bernard Herrmann because this movie wouldn’t have had the effect that it did on people without his score.  It adds to the atmosphere of the movie and literally screams at you.  It was also one of my favorite aspects of this movie.

The shower scene speaks for itself.  The silence that endures afterwards is eerie and unnerving.

The parlor scene before that with Marion and Norman is one of my favorites to!  Anthony Perkins is great in this scene.  It’s very creepy with all the shots of the taxidermy birds (it’s worth mentioning that all those birds just so happen to prey on other animals).  There’s also a portrait of “The Rape of Lucretia” and behind that is a peephole that Norman looks through into Marion’s room, which lends to the whole voyeuristic aspect of the movie.  Perkins is very creepy in this scene when his character starts talking about his mother.  There’s so much involved here and it creates a lot of suspense.  It’s definitely one of my favorites.

One thing that I could do without is the scene at the end of the movie where the doctor’s are explaining Norman’s condition.  To me it was too long and took away from the atmosphere of the movie.  A very brief explanation and then a cut to Norman at the very end of the movie would’ve sufficed.

Speaking of the end of the movie, the scene with Norman wrapped in the blanket and “Mother’s” voice over, it is also one of my favorites in the movie.  Every time I watch it, I can’t take my eyes off of the screen.  And that smile that he gives us at the end- so unnerving!

Bottom line is that Psycho is a classic and it’s been an influence to horror (specifically slasher movies) to this day.  If you haven’t had a chance to see it, what are you waiting for?

 

People You Should Know About: Gene Kelly

I don’t know what it is about Gene Kelly- maybe the fact that we share the same last name (no, it’s definitely more than that)- but one thing is for sure, this man has always been able to put a smile on my face.

Gene Kelly was born today, August 23, 1912, in Pittsburgh, PA.  He arrived in Hollywood in 1941 and from there on, he starred in, directed, and choreographed movies such as The Pirate (1948), Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949), An American In Paris (1951), and, probably his most well known film, Singin’ In The Rain (1952).

I’ve heard that Gene was a bit of a pain in the ass to work with- people were miserable, afraid to make mistakes in his presence.  He was quite the perfectionist I guess you could say.  But there’s no doubt (at least in my mind) that he was passionate about what he did, and anybody that he did work with always said that they owed a lot to Gene for bringing out the best possible performances in them.

For me, Gene Kelly has been able to fill me with joy when I feel down.  I always said that I wished I could dance like he could, or be as passionate about my work as he was about his.

So, in honor of his birthday, Hollywood Fix will be reviewing a few of Gene Kelly’s movies today.

Happy 100th Birthday, Mr. Kelly!