|James Dean with Dick Davalos in East of Eden|
I talked my mom into buying me a red nylon windbreaker because every male at school seemed to be getting one. Dean wore one in Rebel. "Chicken race" became the hottest topic of conversation in high school hallways. (Few if any kids actually tried it, one suspects.) And although the relationship of Dean and Sal Mineo in that film only hints at the latter's same sex orientation, there is nothing blatant about their scenes; the audience is focused on Dean, as Mineo is, merely as a matter of hero worship. This is an innate tendency of us all. But the photo above could have come out of a 21st century movie it is so suggestive: two young, good-looking men, perhaps after having sex, relax in their room. A young person unfamiliar with Dean -- or with this particular film -- might immediately leap to that conclusion. The recorder is so obviously phallic and it is in close vicinity to the crotch. Davalos looked well-fucked or merely exhausted from the fucking. I'd like to have the studio still.
Mineo met a tragic end when he got into S&M and was murdered by rough trade (or rough something). He did some remarkable work in theatre, e.g. mounting the Miguel Pinero play, Short Eyes, a harrowing tale of a child molester in general population of a prison. Mineo was an out gay male. That could easily explain his absence from the screen in later years. Perhaps, now that Obama has OK'd same sex marriages, Hollywood will drop its pretense to being a "family" industry and allow more LGBT actors better participation, even roles written with "normal" LGBT characters. No, "normal" doesn't mean "good." I'd love to see some really brilliant gay or lesbian antagonists.