He only made three films worth mentioning and was dead at 24.
Sixty years later, something about James Dean remains alluring and even relevant – and it's not just the live-fast-die-young cliché. More likely, it's the on-screen attitude: that combination of poise and pained vulnerability, of wounded idealism curdling into epic disgust, in really great jeans.
Like the beats and the jazzers, he embodied rejection of the square world. And he used clothes to signify his rebellion: believe it or not, there was a time when a white T-shirt and a well-placed cigarette could start a revolution.