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James Dean / Paul Newman Screen Test

James Dean and Paul Newman try out for East of Eden (1955)

Elia Kazan directs this rather amazing screen test with Paul Newman and James Dean, both young, relaxed, and obviously at ease in front of the camera, despite Elia Kazan’s offscreen hectoring. Dean, toying with a switchblade knife through much of this test, which is in two sections, got the part, his first major screen role; Newman didn’t make the cut, for one reason or another.

My favorite exchange: Dean to Newman: “Kiss me.” Newman: “Can’t here.”

Click on the image above, or here, to see the test.

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About the Author

Wheeler Winston Dixon

Wheeler Winston Dixon, Ryan Professor of Film Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is an internationally recognized scholar and writer of film history, theory and criticism. He is the author of numerous books and more than 70 articles on film and appears regularly in national media outlets discussing film and culture trends. Frame by Frame is a collection of his thoughts on a number of those topics. To contact Prof. Dixon for an interview, reach him at 402.472.6064 or wdixon1@unl.edu.

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