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Something for an Empty Briefcase

We were privileged to view a television show from the fifties, unseen since it was first televised. For more information, contact David Loehr at the James Dean Memorial Gallery.

Here are some photos I took as we watched, on a huge rented TV, the drama "Something For An Empty Suitcase." I did fiddle with the pictures, for they aren't all that clear. I hope you can feel the awe we all felt as we became the only audience to see this performance in over 40 years.

The plot revolved around Joe, played by Dean, a 23 year-old ex-con, drifting along in life. His roommate, played by Don Hanmer, urges Joe to continue to commit crimes with him, for their gangster boss, played by Robert Middleton. Joe attempts to rob a young woman on the street, Noli, played by Susan Douglas. She is so naive she believes he needs the money for his sick mother. As a policeman motors up, she tells him there is nothing wrong. Joe is impressed. He goes to Noli's apartment, since he heard her give the address to the policeman.

In the apartment, he falls in instant love. He bares his soul to Noli. The briefcase is Joe's talisman for a better life. He succeeds in buying an empty briefcase and carries it with him. Noli tells Joe to buy a book to keep in it. The book apparently was a Bible, because what he reads in it convinces him that he can change his occupation from thief to something better.

Not long thereafter. Joe goes home one evening to find that the boss has a string of robberies planned for that night. He objects, meets with threats, continues to resist, gets the stuffing beat out of him, and as the play ends, he clings to Noli and we are left believing he will try to make a fresh start, with Noli at his side.

The play, although somewhat dated by our current standards, shows Dean to advantage. It seemed he was overacting, although I thought it was a result of his being used to the stage, where all gestures are exaggerated, to reach the entire house. His body movements showed the influence of his dance teacher at that time. If the director had wanted Dean to tone down his movements, he would have said so. The movie was a lot like a filmed play, rather than what we see today. That was the way it was in the fifties, with television. We are so lucky to have had this haunting experience in Fairmount.

Dean on phone

Dean with Susan

Dean sad

Dean faces the Boss

in blue




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Image Map Welcome Fans Our cook-out Something For An Empty Briefcase James Dean trivia more fans & gallery additions banquet

Here are the pages planned for this weekend's pictures:
At the Gallery
At the Dinner Friday
Something for an Empty Briefcase
The Jeopardy-style trivia contest
This and That on a Fairmount Dean Weekend

Mark Kinnaman reports on the Saturday Banquet in Marion, Indiana
Enjoy the 1998 Fan Appreciation Weekend
The James Dean Deaner pages index
Tell-Mama roots music magazine
You can go to the cover of Our Tentative Times any time. It's the mother of the five magazines I provide.

Logo graphics by Mark K. Kinnaman, artist to the fans.

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