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Stars as Icon and James Dean Phenomena

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Good morning. We have been talking about classic Hollywood period, remember?So, if my question remains that what is classic Hollywood period,and what are the major features of that period?What will be your answer?What are the features of classic Hollywood period?Student: When you talked about the studio system, major studio and also beginning ofstardom; how united all this stars, Clark Gable and James Dean, and who came later onbut primarily you talked about the studio system and later the stars.Stars system and how stars would be on the contract with major studios, remember that?So, where do stars figure during the 50’s? When we talk about 30’s and the 40’s,and also early part of the 50’s then stars were a huge drop. The position of directorsas a major box office magnet, that took place only during later part of the 60’s and theearly 70’s; ‘the director’s decade’ that is what we call the new Hollywood period.But fifties saw an up search in making of different kinds of hero.So, what was the 40’s hero and 50’s heroes all about, if you say that the heroes in the 50’s werethe different kind of hero; still, stardom mattered a lot, still stars were under contractwith studios but the studio hold was slackening by this time.And who were these heroes now?So, if you want to think about heroes of the fifties, then we have to look at the heroesof the forties and fifties also, and even before.So, there was the huge box office star during the silent period called Rudolph Velentino.Are you aware of Rudolph Velentino?Are you?No. Take down the name.See, you are doing the course like this; you ought to know Hollywood history,motion pictures history and only then you can understand any other cinema.Sandeep, who was Rudolph Valentino?Super star of the silent period, can you recall any movie?‘The sheik’; where he plays an abundant white boy, who is raised by the Arabs.So the sheik was a major major blockbuster of Rudolph Valentino. And he was of mixed race,extremely handsome but however the factor remains that, he was the first male super star.And basically, he was known for his looks rather than his history on it.So, those classic Greek god looks and silent star, so naturally he did not have to speak any lines.He had a strong ascent. His dialogue delivery was not very good and there was nothing, exceptyou know, his classic good looks, there was nothing much to recommend him, but still oneof the earlier great stars of the period of Hollywood. And therefore, his name figuresin the greatest stars or greatest you know in pantheon of Hollywood stardom.There was like a mass hysteria when Rudolf Valentino prematurely died; he was not welland he died, he was in is early 30’s, and fans just broke down. And there was a massivehysteria outside his house and people just went berserk, because a huge star die andthat went on to create something called; you know coin age of the term called ‘Fandom’.So now, fandom is the very common word, very commonly used word.We in Tamil Nadu, we have great act stars, actors, who have these fan clubs.So, we call them fandom;stars and their images they are bathed in milk and what not, they are weighted in gold etcWe may even in try to commit to suicide, when a major star dies that kind of phenomenon.But historically Valentino is one of the mostwell-known and the first documented star to have generated that kind of hysteria.After that, of course we had major actors, stars; Clark Gable, James Stewart.Cary Grant who had enormous fan followings, especially among ladies. Even, men wanted to be like Cary Grant.Cary Grant own sexuality is suspect, he was known by bisexual. Now, it is all out in theopen but he nevertheless married six times and so.We were talking the other day how to making of Hollywood star Elizabeth Taylor and also,many of these links up and romances and marriages would be like studio manufacture devices,just to keep the fans happy. And men and women alike and should warship that was the idea.Now, the hero in the fifty; so that those was the forties and the fifties, can you rememberany other major stars of the period, stars, actors?Fifties are symbolized majorly by two of our greatest method actors;James Dean as well as Marlon Brando, both come from New York school, rather than LA.So, they were not like manufacture stars, but they were trained actors.Elvis Presley another fifties phenomenon, not a star in sense of movie star,but huge star in terms of fan following, the beetles as well. So you have the beetles,close on the heels of we Presley phenomenon. And if you watch a movie called ‘Hard day’s night’,have you heard of?Heard of?We will be doing excerpt from that movie,so please make a note of it. Beetles' A Hard Day’s Night and ‘Help’, they starred in two movies,beautiful movies and movies; which are still fresh, still very young in approach.So, Elvis, James dean and Marlon Brando were heroes in the fifties.Now, I will give you one minute exercise to just think over, who was the major star precedingBrando and Dean?Think about it,major Hollywood stars preceding Elvis Presley of course, but he was not an actor for sake.James dean and Marlon Brando, great actors’,phenomenal stars but who was there before them?Think all your favorite movies, think of the actors.We are still on heroes and not on heroines.Student: Humphrey BogartGood, Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant, Henry FondaStudent: Monty CliftMonty Clift, again a New York product, New York acting school product, trained by the legendry Lee Strasberg,Stella Adler, they were the proponents and exponents of method acting in New York;Monty Clift, James Dean, Brando.But Monty Clift never generated hysteria, Brando and Dean did that is the different.So, we agree Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant, Clark Gable.There were great stars during the thirties and the forties, who would invariablystar in all these gangster films; you remember his name?He was another major box office draw.James Cagney, not James Stewart. James Stewart was a favorite of who; Hitchcock and also Frank Capra,but then a Hitchcock’s movie is the Hitchcock movie, the director before or above the title, that kind of starring.Howard Hawks and Hitchcock were two directorsof the classic period whose name appeared above the title, the name above the title, remember.Whose autobiography?Student: Frank CapraGood, Frank Capra. So, hero in the fifties, so we will see,how there has been a mark shift from the heroes of the thirties, forties and the early fiftiesuntil Brando and Dean; and what brought about those change, what where those socio culturalchanges and the difference in acting style and major, and major trends in filmmaking.So, Brando, Dean and Elvis to an extend change the way young man could be seen in a popular culture.So, they were not the hyper masculine actors, the projected hyper masculinity aswas an evident in Clark Gable, in James Cagney,Humphrey Bogart.They were more in touch withfeminist aspect of their personality, not effeminate definitely but more sensitive,more brooding, gave an aura of introspections. And often appeared confused an ambiguous aboutmany things, including their sexual orientation. And this is the feature which is very common in Monty Clift also.So the word, the term that is coined for them is protest masculinity;protesting against the established norms of hyper masculinity, therefore they mark a shiftfrom those hyper masculine stars to this. Now, see, we saw the phenomenon again reoccurringduring the 80’s. Now see 70’s was again, all about the method acting remember; Al Pacino,Hoffman, Nicholson, De Niro, who else,Harvey Keitel, so these were the New York trained actors, trained in the method acting style.And then cinema was dominated by the directorswho are collectively known as the movie brats, movie brats;Scorsese, Paul Schrader,even Lucas and Spielberg, the movie brats.So that was the, those were of the 70’s, of courseSpielberg still survives but 80’s saw again a shift. Now look at, you watch these method actors in 70’s;Al Pacino in ‘Dog day Afternoon’, confused about his sexuality.He is married. He has fathered-children. He is still wants to give up the family and bewith a man, right, you remember the movie; Dog day afternoon.De Niro in a ‘Taxi Driver’;disillusion with war and therefore, all his problems, all this confusions basically eminentfrom the factor that his dissolution with the society around him.So, working class man protesting against established socio-political system in America.So, there was a protest.Jack Nicholson ‘One flow over the cuckoo’s Nest’,Harvey Keitel in ‘Mean Streets’and a couple of other movie as well. All these trained in method acting.But what happens in the 80’s, who were the heroes, who were the super stars of 80’?Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Stallone, and also to an extent Bruce Willis,to an extent what is his name, Seagal, Steven Seagal.So, those were the actors, who mark the 80’s. So there is always been a cycle; hyper masculinityfollowed by cycle of sensitive actors etcetera. And now what do we see 90’s onwards?Think of all our major actors, are they hyper masculine type?No, they do not embody that kind of masculinityas was illustrated by the Schwarzenegger and Seagal and StalloneDo you watch ‘Fight club’?It is a very different kind of hero or heroism or machismo you are talking about.‘There we will blood’, it is a subversion of hyper masculinity and patriarchy.Anything else?Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Punch-drunk love’, ‘Magnolia’, Tom Cruise in ‘Magnolia’;again interrogating a constructs of hyper-masculinity, so this is a feature. So, if you think everyera define certain kind of movies of course. Student: Same thing applies here for hypermasculine movies, like Tom Cruise ‘Collateral’ where he played hyper masculine character.But it still very confused, not confused about his identity but a man who is not an out anout an anti-hero. He is anti-hero but still not in the same ways as Bruce Willis or any,he is not taking on the establishment. It is not one man army against his enemies andfor Bruce Willis, Schwarzenegger, and Stallone the armies, the enemies are very clear, right.Very clearly defined, assigned them. So, they also embody the particular political ideology in America.Now, we do not have, there is lot of ambiguity. In all Paul Thomas Anderson’s movies you have that theme.In all David Fincher’s movies there the theme, the recurring theme, the enemy lies within.So, James Dean; we are going to analyze aphenomenal called James Dean and what brought about this phenomenon and then his legacy.So, James Dean (1931 -1955); some of you have are already familiar with his two great movies‘Rebel without cause’ and ’East of Eden’, those of you are not then please do watchthem, and third major movie is ‘Giant’ directed by George Stevens. Worked with threegreats; only three movies, three great directors Nicholas Ray, we already discussed NicolasRay, George Steven in Giant and Elia Kazan in ’East of Eden’. So I think, we havetried to cover all these three directors. Dean lost his mother at age nine and he wasa strange from his father. So, that was his background, a small town boy and then thoughtacting would be his profession for life and shifted to New York, got trained in methods school.He had this shuffling, mumbling style; and therefore because of that he was oftencompared to the great Brando. And was always called mixed up kid, I think Elia Kazan wasthe first to name him so. And the story goes that, when he was acting with the likes ofstars Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson who had nothing do with method acting both them in ‘Giant’,they could never follow what he is saying. They would never understand;Elizabeth Taylor of course had of some experience, some brush with method acting because shehad acted in ‘A Place in the sun’ with Montgomery Clift, so she knew what methodacting is all about but Rock Hudson another people in that crew had no idea of what methodacting is all about, they were very uncomfortable with having James Dean around.His characters are often inarticulate, what do you understand by inarticulacy?Not just, not been able to express but also extremely confused about what they want to express.This is the theme that runs through the works of the Daniel Day-Lewis also; inarticulacy,yes, people you know, characters who are not able to come to terms with what do they want to say.So, most of his characters, they are anxiety- ridden protagonist; almost like precursorto the great method actors of the 70’s. Misunderstood out cast;and in all his three movies, he is desperately craving approval from a father figure,just three movies but already.So these are the theme there running through, there is a thread that runs throughout his body of work.So, at Elia Kazan directed ‘East of Eden’ as we have already talked about it.‘Rebel without a cause’ and ‘Giant’, just three movies; Giant is by George Stevens.So, ‘East of Eden’ based on Johns Steinbeck’s novel.It is set in rural California, and was released after Dean’s death.Part of the movie; the movie that we have we see, we get to see is based on ‘The book of Genesis’,and Kazan was basically concerned with the father and son, and brothers, the conflictbetween the two brothers; the ‘can’ and ‘able’ section that was another theme,another motif in Kazan’s body of work also, conflicts between fathers and sons.So, remember therefore he director, he collaborated with Arthur Miller so well; ‘Death of Salesman’,‘All my sons, again the same story.Giant (1956); it is based on a novel by Edna Ferber,a monumental meandering novel based in Texas where Rock Hudson plays a rancherwho owns some 50 thousand acres of land and James Dean is a worker, a farmer and who fallsin love with Rock Hudson’s, his master’s wife as played by the beautiful Elizabeth Taylor.And Dean’s character, he is strikes oil; we are told during the, have you watch the movie?Do watch it, do watch it I am sure it is available online somewhere.If you do watch it, it is, it is a great study in a particular period in American history.So, here we are told that James Dean has been bequeaths a plot, you know a very small partof the land by Rock Hudson’s dead sister, who remains a spinster,and James Dean’s character has served her very well.So, before dying, she names a small section of plot ofland for him, and he strikes oil and then becomes a billionaire, richer than Rock Hudson.And then he ages 40 years, and then you actually find all these actors aging on screen, althoughthey were not old, they were not yet in their 40’s or 50’s. But they acted and it is very well acted movie.‘Rebel without a cause’, one of is most defining film.I mean, if you look at his, the way he is clothed in that movie, so that is started a trend; blue jeans, red jacket.So, his famous dialogue, ‘you are tearing me apart’, who does this he say to?His father, basically; and you say one thing,and he say another, everybody changes back again. So, that typical teen pic, that iswhat we call them today but not teen pic in along the lines of clueless.So, it is very serious kind of teen pic which gave went to the anx of the teenagers those days, and thentitle says it all; ‘Rebel without a cause’, they do not know against whom they are protesting,they feel they are being very cool when they protest but it, so this is the background.Jewnite delicate movies were extremely popular in that era. There was a movie called, ‘Blackboard Jungle’where students protest against teachers, the very popular film.And ‘Rebel without a cause’, takes its cues from the ‘Blackboard Jungle’So in in Rebel, Deans stars as Jim Stark along with Natalie Woodand Sal Mineo who was the another method actor.Sal Mineo is the boy who plays hoodie, the kid hoodies in the movie.And Brando was initially considered for the role but then he was thought to be too old to play a teenager.And if you watch the movie, I just assumed that some of you have watched the movie,and his performance does show distinctive influences of Brando.So, ‘Rebel without a cause’ was coined, the term itself was coined in 1944 before the movie came out bypsychologist, sociologist called Robert Linder who had written a book in 1946and a Warner brothers had bought the right to the book.And I am quoting something from the novel, from the book, sorry‘The psychopath is a rebel, a religious disobeyer of prevailing quotes and standards,a rebel without a cause, an agitator without a slogan, a revolutionary without a program’.So, that is what defines a rebel according to Robert Linder.So, who is a rebel? Rebel is the milestone in the creating of new ideas about young people.The novel as well, the book as well the movie, basically deals with the concept of un focuses rage;these young people full of rage but they do not know who the rage is against,whether it is the teachers or the authority figures, you know the law maker etcetera or their parents.Precedents in cinematic histories from Marlon Brando’s role as a motor cyclegang leaders, you know it was one of those; today we call them bike flicks, right in the biker flicks.So, Marlon Brando played the role in ‘The wild One’ in the 1953.You know influences of Marlon Brando they are like far reaching; you watch a movie like‘Ghulam’, Aamir khan’s Ghulam, which movie is it based on?He is a boxer, he is asked to throw a game by his brother, and the brother is in league with these so calledyou know, small time goons and thugs. So which movie is it based on?And then the brother is killed; he is the peace maker between various people,he is also lawyer in the movie, right.And there is another activist who gets killed and then our hero, he turns into a rebel;so far he is a drifter but then when he watches his brother die and when he watches this activistdies then he turns into a revolutionary of sorts; the one man army against this army of goons.Which movie is it based on?‘On the Waterfront’.How many of you have watched ‘Ghulam’, Aamir Khan’s ‘Ghulam’?No? Do watch it, and watch it back to back with ‘On the Waterfront’, also ‘Rebel without a cause’.Now, why are we talking about Ghulam at this point,because ‘On the Waterfront’, there is no biker at gang,but in Ghulam there is one, do you remember? There is a group of biker who always arriveson the scene whenever there is some problem and they are always on bikes, so biker gang,and they help the hero out in one of his major moments of crises.So, that scene is total lift from ‘The wild one’. And also we had phenomenon called Elvis Presleyin 1950s and along with Brando and Presley, Dean created kind of role model that alterthe way young men were perceived. So, called enemies; is everyone who is in authority.There is a book called ‘Generation of vipers’ by Philip Wylie and the book coins a term called ‘Momism’;mama’s boys, mom’s and momism, so they want to rebel againstthe concept of momism because we have been like the striped off of our masculinity by our mothers,so momism.Henpecked father and bossy mother, and that something that you will find in ‘Rebel without a cause’.What can you do, when you have to be a man;James asks his father at one point in the movie, because why are you so dominated by my mother.So the cause; nothing really, he does not have any cause.It is a story which takes place within 24 hours; very tightly in its plot and a structure.And three teenagers from L.A;all brimming with undirected rage.What is the other guy’s problem,Sal Mineo’s?He is just brought up by governance, parents are never at home.He is the one of those upper middle class kind of boy and he livesin very comfortable surroundings, but then, you remember how the movie opens?In a police officer’s room, all these three have been arrested for some reason or the other, forjust causing some minor disturbance in the neighborhood. And James Dean, for James deanhis parents come to bail him out. For that girl, her parents come, and then for the boy;for the other boy no one comes, except his governance. Parents are separate or divorcesomething like that, very wealthy but no affection.What is the girl’s problem?We are talking about, you know indirectly raged. So, what what yells the girl in movie?She wants, she is very affectionate towards her father but he is no mood to listen to her, and he saysafter a certain age girls have to be more reserved, more like, lady like, and she sayswhy; those kinds of issues. So, rebellions against emasculation of the father who lacksdecisiveness and strengthens; at one point James Dean says, ‘she eats him alive and he takes it’,so again you know a kind of protest masculinity, man have to be assertive.But then he is not a very assertive man. He is not the hyper masculine man but he is identifyinga certain problem that was identified by many people before him;that women are slowly emasculating men in American society.On being a man, that what his says about is father,’If he had guts to knock mom cold ones, then maybe she would be happy and she would starts picking on him’.So, the other issues were like Juvenile delinquency. And also the conclusionis that grown up also do not have solution to teenagers problems.James Dean phenomenon; we were talking about making of James dean phenomenon.So, just three movies and today he is immortal, why?One was the style; the way he was the styled in the movie.He is not basically remembered for ‘Giant’.In ‘Giant’ he ages 40 years by the end of the movie,you see him like the 50 year old or late fifty something like that.‘East of Eden’; yes, very respectable movie by the great a Elia Kazan,Kazan got the major chunk of credit and also based ona classic American novel, but ‘Rebel’ made James Dean what he was.And his iconic red jacket,the hair style; we are talking about making of the star here,and fast car, fast bikes, all these things you do not scene in ‘Giant’.The switch-blade scene, if you watch the movie please mark it, the switchbladescene where he is involved in knife scene and the Chickie run scene remember;Chickie run scene where they challenge the rival gang, you know that is lets run, lets race carsand whoever gets out fast, gets out before is the Chicken, is the Coward that is thescene replicated in ‘Ghulam’ as well, it is not there in ‘On the waterfront’,so Ghulam is many movies; and the cult world, the language, the jargon of the teenager.James Dean died in his Porsche which was called ‘little bastard’.‘Rebel without a cause’ was released after his death and the ‘Chickie run’ scene prefigured his own tragic death,his love for fast living and fast cars. It said and it is very yearly coincidental thatJames Dean also participated road safety campaign where he urged drivers not to drive rashly,remember; ‘the next life you saved could be mine’ that was the slogan.Now, who are fans? We are talking about fandoms and James Dean. So, who are fans?That is my question to you; are you a fan of any actor?Yes, Kranthi.Student: Daniel Day-Levis Okay, Daniel Day-Levis is a major actor,he may not be a star, he may not be a huge phenomenal star, because see; he never cultivated himself that way,he did not play the star game that is also one thing, he could have done butthere are some people who deliberately stay awaybut then there are some people who play that image of heroism.Daniel Day-Levis never repeated himself, never created an iconic image for himself.Same can be said about Benicio Del Toro, he never played those gamesbut there are certain people, who do these things. James Dean, perhaps we cannot saythat he played it up but by default, perhaps because of his very premature death.He has come to be a, come to become, you know all time role model, a star.So fans, who are fans; now here we see a picture where an actor in chains they want to institutionalize you,this is fan, this is becoming part of fandom, this is what the fandom does to you; institutionalize you.How do you institutionalize someone?We say right, he is not an actor; he is an institution by himself.How do you get institutionalized?I am sure all of you know, what are the practices, what do people do, what fans do.We have star great actor, a star, Shah Rukh Khan, and we see him always surrounded byfans.And also who plays up to their image?The media; fancies, popular magazines, media, nowadays you also have socialnetwork sites, like Twitter, Facebook and all those kinds of things.So, what do they do? They institutionalize you.Student: There are some stars have these followers.Can you give me some examples? Student: They build a temple.Yes, does that still exist; they re-built, good. I am sure that there are certain starsat least in our country who are institutionalized by religious tropes.Now, what does it meant to have, to have your own fandom, what is fandom?Fandom entices the meaning of being fan, group of people coming together and institutionalizing someone.Fandom studies investigates, how fans express their likes and dislikes; and nowadays youhave all kinds of things, all kinds of medium to, for fans, all kinds of platform for fansto express their likes and dislikes. So, the moment a movie is released, next day therewould be millions of posts about that actor or about that movie because you have a fan following,fans are following you literally; nowadays on social media.Fans discuss comment and writes on films, perhaps they are not qualified to do that but they do that becausethey are fans, they have every right to do so.Fans of course; they can be manipulative and they can be manipulated as well by marketing forces.Can you give me some instance, how fans can be manipulating?Well, every time there is a new movie coming up, you just have to generate certain kind of story about a starthen you look at the hysteria that follows among the fans. NET leads to, there are numerous example,and if you watch it very carefully, you will find anywhere in the world, especiallyin our country whenever there is the major movie up for release, there is always somekind of controversy generally, because that generates interest. Thus the way media andstars manipulates fans, fans will be there but then it is another thing, it is anotherart to manipulate their emotions that will of course result in more foot false.Sometimes fans can also influence and control the film as a product. Can you give me some example?Student: There is a movie which is made in Kerala ten years back,it starring both Mohanlal and Mammootty and Juhi Chawla.So, thing is she has to choose between either of them,they actually came out with two endings for the movie;one she chooses Mohan Lal and the other one she chooses Mammootty.You cannot antagonize the fans.Student: So, they screened at different regions depending on whoever had more fan over there.Mani Ratnam’s ‘Thalapathy‘is based on which epic?Student: Mahabharatham Maha Bharth, and which role is Rajinikhanth,superstar Rajinikhanth as in?Karna’s, right?What happens to Karna in Mahabharath?Does he die in Thalapathi? Student: YesStudent: No, no mam. No, he does not.Why?How can you show Rajinikhanth the dying on screen?So, some fans control the film as a product.So, it does not matter to us what authenticity or being faithful to the epic,fans controls the way things are done. We were just talking about Coolie;Coolie original screenplay had Bachchan dying at the end, but because he had just come outnear death experience; how many of you are not familiar with Coolie accident,Mr. Bachchan almost died during the fight scene, during fight scene during an action scene,during the shooting of the movie.And he was hospitalized many months following that accident and sometimesrumors would having that he is already dead; and those we are talking about 1982,when we did not have all these media channel, and etcetera, television channels and so manynewspapers and magazines. But fans would throng the hospital throughout. And some occasionallythe rumor would be floating in the air that Mr. Bachchan is no longer alive, whatever.But then he came out of it. And the movie was eventually completed, and was released in 1983.The original screenplay had him dying at the end; because he has come out of thisnear death experience, the director had to the change the ending of movie,now you cannot show Bachchan dying on screen.And interestingly after Coolie, his careerstarted going down because see; you have been defy that extent, after that anything, anythingwhatever you do cannot measure up to that level. And the other movies that followed were just not there,I mean they just did not capture the phenomenon, they were very mediocre, products etcetera.And now, he has been defy to the extent of being, almost like God,he can even defeat death.The only movie as far as I can remember which had Bachchandying after the Coolie’s incident was ‘Agneepath’, and it was miserable flop, it was flop fora variety of reasons; but one of the reasons for its flopping was that people were, justnot interested in seeing him as hero one, and also the fact that he dies on screen becausepeople were no longer interested in watching him die. They was another lesser known moviecalled, ‘Main Aazaad hoo’ based on Frank Capra’s ‘Meet John Doe’ which again had him dying on screen,and the movie was not even released properly; a Bachchan movie not finding a release.So, the legend continues,we have a numerous James Dean appreciation society.Warner brothers even made a movie; a short documentary called the ‘The James Dean story’ in 1957.There are several biographies and he is also gay icon.His biographies; ‘The mutant king’, and ‘James Dean; Boulevard of broken dreams’.There another biography called, just called ‘James Dean’. And then ‘Silver screen-II: Mavericks’.And on the cover you can see James Dean, Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen and Johnny Depp.He also represents in cult of youth, eternally young, it eternally alive. And the only twodeaths that can match up to his legendry death, a phenomenal death on suit, one is death ofRudolph