Sunday, January 21, 2007

Sal Mineo and James Dean

from a publicity still for Rebel Without a Cause

James Dean has nothing on Sal Mineo; at least not the Sal Mineo of Who Killed Teddy Bear. The opening credits are followed by a parade of sounds and images worthy of Kenneth Anger--a fetishization not only of Mineo's body (seen from the neck down and completely objectified), with its skinny ribs and languid poses, but of the various objects around his apartment, each imbued with the forbidden (to the film's 1965 audience) symbols of auto-eroticism. A rotary dial telephone whose receiver Mineo seems to briefly caress before grabbing firmly; a stack of dirty magazines; a scummy mirror dreamier than Narcissus' pool. The click of the phone is sounds canned--it gives us even more of a sensation of a dream, an idealized fantasy of dirty phone calls at odds with the squarely framed, ordinary world of the girl he calls up, who wanders back to her bed in a perfectly ordinary tracking shot while he, we can imagine, remains lying there in his dreamy haze.

1 comment:

Rob said...

This is the second place I've read about this movie, and now I want to see it even more. In some weird way your description reminds me of "Lady in a Cage." Ever seen it?