9-30-55

James Dean ornament by Kurt Adler Polonaise in our collection.

The holiday season

starts later here in Greece.  Most people don’t decorate their homes until after the 17th of December (or even Christmas movies on TV) …but all the festive lights DO stay up until the second week of January. 

(We just got our tree up, the day after I wrote this.)  I decided on a cake recipe for this posting; a unique and delicious cake that’s perfect for whenever people are gathering to celebrate the season. 

Richard Thomas’ Applesauce Cake with Whiskey Frosting!  It’s a spice cake, lush with raisins, walnuts, and apple goodness…sweetened with the subtle, warm flavors of bourbon.  This cake is a seasonal celebration, in and of itself!

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DEANERS-the Movie

DEANERS-THE MOVIE

There were several good reasons already this month to celebrate, but one of the biggest was the December 4th, worldwide release of David Garry’s award-winning, short documentary film Deaners-The Movie

After making a tour of 12 independent film festivals and winning multiple awards, Deaners is now available on YouTube for the world to see.  (The film was shot 2 years ago at the James Dean Festival in Fairmount, IN and I have a 20 second cameo in the middle!)  It’s a loving and beautiful tribute to the fans of James Dean (who call themselves “Deaners”).  Click the link above to watch it!  I HIGHLY recommend it!

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September 30, 1955

9-30-55

40 years before Deaners-The Movie, was a film about James Dean fans, written by a James Dean fan, which starred Richard Thomas (and first time, big-screen appearances by Lisa Blount and Dennis Quaid) called, September 30, 1955 (1977).  The script is based on a play, written by James Bridges, called How Many Times Have You Seen East of Eden?  The film and play are a fictionalized, semi-autobiographical account of Bridges’ youth.  Bridges also directed the film.

September 30, 1955 takes place in the small town of Conway, AK (James Bridges real life hometown).  The film opens with Jimmy J (played by Richard Thomas) sitting by himself at the Conway Theater, intently watching East of Eden (1955) for the 4th time.  His eyes get watery at the final scenes, as he self-consciously tries to hide the tears that run down his cheeks.  (A scene EVERY Deaner can identify with.)  He’s in the middle of football practice, when hears the news of James Dean’s death.  “The day that shook up a generation!” proclaims the movie poster.  His world starts to crumble…no one seems to understand the devastation…Dean was an actor, half-way across the country…whom Jimmy J had never even met.  Jimmy J robs a liquor store, holds a seance with his closest friends, interprets “signs” from beyond the grave, and transforms himself into a replica James Dean.

Soundtrack album cover to 9-30-55.

I love this film.  EVERY Deaner will relate to it… It’s a beautiful portrayal of the 1950s, without the kitsch and cliches of so many other movies.  Thomas’ performance is great.  I’d love to go into more plot details, but I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t seen it yet.  Alex and I watched it a couple of nights ago (with a piece of Richard Thomas’ Applesauce Cake); Alex really enjoyed it too.  He said he gained a whole new respect for the depth of Richard Thomas’ acting skills, “It’s the best thing I’ve ever seen him in.”  The end of the movie truly highlights Thomas’ subtleties.

September 30, 1955 (originally titled 9-30-55) did poorly at the box office in it’s initial release in 1977, even though a New York Times review called it, “Funny, solemn, dead-on accurate…”  Richard Thomas learned to ride a motorcycle for the role, but broke his ankle during the Homecoming parade scene…delaying production for a year.

It’s not an easy film to find.  You can rent it from a couple of online sources or buy the dvd from The James Dean Gallery.  Here’s the movie trailer:

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Dvd cover from September 30, 1955.

JAMES BRIDGES

James Bridges was born in Arkansas and went to school in Conway, AK (known as “The City of Colleges”) just like his character Jimmy J…  After the death of his idol, James Dean, Bridges packed up and moved to Hollywood, pursuing a career in acting and screen writing (just like his character Jimmy J).  He went on to direct 8 major films, including The Paper Chase (1973), The China Syndrome (1979), Urban Cowboy (1980), and Mike’s Murder (1984), as well as write more than 20 films for TV and big screen. He was nominated for 2 Academy Awards.  Bridges was active in theater, producing and directing many of the plays by his longtime partner Jack Larson (the actor who played Jimmy Olsen on TV’s Adventures of Superman (1952-58).

Bridges died of cancer at the age of 57 in 1993.  Larson followed him in 2015.  The James Bridges Theater at UCLA was dedicated to him in 1999.

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The “Rebel” jacket worn by Richard Thomas in September 30, 1955, on display at The James Dean Gallery.

RICHARD THOMAS

Richard Thomas began acting on Broadway at the age of 7.  He made his first, major, TV appearance at age 8, co-starring with Julie Harris and Hume Cronyn in A Dolls House (1959).  He has more than 118 film and TV credits and 13 Broadway credits.  His parents were both dancers at The New York City Ballet and owned the New York School of Ballet.  Richard is most remembered for his long running role as John-Boy Walton on the TV series The Waltons (1971-78, he won an Emmy for the role).

Thomas left The Waltons in 1977, after 112 episodes (although he made several comeback appearances after that).  He took on roles of murderers and misfits in an attempt to break his typecast role of “good boy” John-Boy Walton.  Jimmy J in September 30, 1955 was one of those roles.

The “Rebel Without a Cause” red jacket, worn by Thomas as his character Jimmy J transforms himself into James Dean is now enshrined at The James Dean Gallery in Fairmount Indiana.  David Loehr acquired it from a LA auction in September of 2016.  He was surprised at how small it is (Richard Thomas is 5’8″).

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THE RECIPE

Click to view larger or print.

This cake is a delicious ADULT treat that tastes like fall and the holiday season!  It’s dense and LUSH, full of walnuts, raisins, appley-goodness, heavy, warm spices, and the subtle, exciting flavor of bourbon.  Perfect for any social get-together this season.

ONCE AGAIN, I found myself without one of the key ingredients…  My local supermarket USED to carry applesauce…but no more it seems!  (Sometimes they carry items geared towards the British population that live here on the island…applesauce is a foreign thing in Greece.)  Sooooo…here I go making my own (it was Saltine crackers that I had to make last month, and sugar cubes the month before…).

My batch of applesauce.

I had never made applesauce before.  It wasn’t hard…actually kind of fun, especially since it brought back childhood memories of my mom and aunts all gathering together at apple harvest season to make jars and jars and jars of applesauce.  My house smelled great!  (…and I had enough left over to garnish Susan Strasberg’s Cheese Blintzes a week later…that was a treat!)  I imagine my cousin Angie still carries on the annual applesauce making tradition.

The walnuts came from the mountains nearby…a gift from the neighbor.  Shelling walnuts was another childhood memory.  The raisins were another gift…wine production is big here, so raisins, currents, and grape must (a byproduct of wine production, and my latest favorite ingredient…) are plentiful.

HERE’S A COUPLE NOTES ON RECIPE PREPARATION…

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HERE’S THE VIDEO:

 

 

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HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM RECIPES4REBELS!

 

2 Comments

  1. Looks great as always. Bet you would love to own that jacket.

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