Director: Matthew Mishory
Cast: James Preston,Dan Glenn,Dalilah Rain,Edward Singletary,Erin Daniels
“What ls essential ls lnvlslble to the eye.”
]OSHUA TREE, I95l is an intimate portrait ofjames Dean on the cusp of achieving notoriety as both a
great actor and an American icon. Set primarily in the early I950s and focusing on Dean’s experiences as an
up-and-coming actor in Los Angeles, the ?lm is a series of revealing and sometimes dreamlike vignettes that
blend biographical and ?ctionalized elements to present a pivotal moment in a remarkable life.
james Byron Dean was born in Marion, Indiana, in I93 I;when he was six, his father took a job that moved the
family to Los Angeles. In I940, Dean's mother died of cancer, and he was sent back to Indiana to live with his
aunt and uncle. As a teenager, Dean sought the counsel and friendship of Methodist pastor Rev.james
DeWeerd, who had a formative in?uence on him, helping to cultivate his interests in bull?ghting, car racing,
and the theater.
After graduating from high school in I949, Dean moved back to California to live with his father and
stepmother. He enrolled as a pre-law major at Santa Monica College, soon after transferring to the University
of California, Los Angeles, where he changed his major to drama—a choice that estranged him from his
father. While at UCLA, he beat out 350 actors to land the role of Malcolm in Macbeth. At that time, he also
began participating in james Whitmore‘s acting workshop. In january I95I, he dropped out of UCLA to pursue
a full-time career as an actor.
The ?lm's “present tense” is I95 I , as Dean is driving to the desert ofjoshua Tree, California, a few hours
journey from his Santa Monica apartment. Along for the ride is The Roommate, a struggling actor Dean has
sought out as much for his cultural re?nement (which Dean intends to siphon for his own career) as for his
friendship and the intimacy it provides._joining them is “chaperone” Violet, a past-her-prime would-be starlet in
the employ of the charming and oily producer/manager Roger. Isolating moments both in joshua Tree and in the
recent past, the story cuts back and forth in time to show us the Dean they know: a man singularly focused on
refashioning himself as the great American actor. The culmination of their trip is a series of illuminating
confrontations that changes each of their lives forever.
Part portrait of a great artist as a young man, part love story, part exploration of the postwar Hollywood
machine, ]OSHUA TREE, l95l presents a side ofjames Dean seldom glimpsed. Aware of his own potential
to be legendary, he is at once childlike and world-weary; a brute and a romantic; an intellectual and an Indiana
shit-kicker; a playboy and a man of great sensitivity. An un?inching and honest exploration of Dean's
complicated sexuality and formative reIationships,]OSHUA TREE, l95l rede?nes him for a new generation.