About the Blog..

My blog title, Ossessione, American Style, is taken from a movie by Count Luchino Visconti, who borrowed the plot of his astonishing debut film, Ossessione, from James M. Cain's novel, The Postman Always Rings Twice. Unfortunately, Visconti never paid for the rights and his film was not shown in the U.S. until many years after its release. The star of the movie, Massimo Girotti, would be People's "Sexiest Man Alive" many years running had the zine been around at the time. We first see him as a truck driver in a filthy sleeveless athletic undershirt, another of my obsessions: remember Paul Newman in an a-shirt (e.g. Hud or Cool Hand Luke)? Nowadays, they cheapen this garment who confuse it with something tank troops wore in World War I. The a-shirt is an undershirt, usually with thin bands over the shoulders; a tank top is a shirt without sleeves, akin to a "muscle shirt," only with wider bands over the shoulders. But, I digress....)

The purpose of this photo/comment column is to present a record of my obsessions. These are wide-ranging and diverse. This blog is not intended to be pornographic. The only pornography today is in politics.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

James Dean, "Gadge," and Mr. Ray

James Dean with Dick Davalos in East of Eden
James Dean, as much an American icon as Presley or Brando, worked with three American film directors whose personalities could not have been more contradictory.  As far as I know, only Nicholas Ray (Rebel Without a Cause) had a seemingly bisexual instinct, but the director who, knowingly or not, got closest to that element in Dean's makeup was Elia Kazan.  (George Stevens had to work with a miscasting, as it is easier to cast an older man to play a younger one than vice-versa, but in the early scenes, Jett Rink is an earthy, seethingly sexual beast.)  East of Eden by Steinbeck was made for Dean, whose most played type was the misunderstood youth.  This made him accessible and appealing to youth in general, just as it played to the fantasies of gay and bisexual youth in particular.

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.

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