The more I looked at this photograph of James Dean, the more fascinating I found it. It looks like it was shot in New York City, most likely in the early to mid 1950’s before Dean made any of his three iconic films. Unfortunately, I do not know who the photographer is but it could be Dennis Stock, (please see comment below from Peter. L. Winker who clears this up. Peter is the editor of the forthcoming book, The Real James Dean: Intimate Memories From Those Who Knew Him Best, to be published later this year). Stock became a friend of Dean’s early on and was one of several photographers who photgraphed Dean during those early times. The painted ad in the background for the 1948 film Brute Force reflects it’s age.
What’s fascinating I felt was the connection the photo makes between the old Hollywood of Burt Lancaster who starred in the film and that of an actor on the verge of stardom. Not just any up and coming actor but someone who would come to represent the beginning of the New Hollywood and the Youth Culture that would explode within a few years.
You can read about Brute Force in my e-book Lessons in the Dark available at Amazon.