Great tilters of cinema

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Last updated on March 6th, 2018 at 12:31 am

Compassionate head-tilting has a rich cinematic history:

Head-tilting was a signature cue of method actor, James Dean. Dean’s head-tilts seemed to say, as East of Eden director Elia Kazan put it, “Pity me, I’m too sensitive for the world”.

Tiltiness remains popular among leftist politicians in cinema-crazed France.

(Via Andrew R.)

Posted by Tim B. on 01/30/2007 at 09:41 AM
    1. There is this quote from the first article linked: “In Spain, tilting the head sideways and resting the cheek in the palm of the hand is a deliberate signal which says, ‘Sissy!’ “

      Posted by paco on 2007 01 30 at 09:48 AM • permalink


    1. BTW, did anybody else out there find James Dean’s method-acting in Rebel Without a Cause to be an annoying affectation? Just askin’ . . .

      Posted by paco on 2007 01 30 at 09:53 AM • permalink


    1. Paco—couldn’t say, I’ve never been able to sit through it.  The Wild Ones, it ain’t…

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 2007 01 30 at 10:57 AM • permalink


    1. #2 Yes I did Paco. But then again, I find all ‘message movies’ boring and self indulgent. Give me a Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, type western any old time. Or a good historical movie, provided it is well produced and does not bend the truth too much.

      Posted by BJM on 2007 01 30 at 10:57 AM • permalink


    1. Dean, schmean.

      I’ve already traced this phenomenon back to artist Amedeo Modigliani.

      Posted by C.L. on 2007 01 30 at 11:06 AM • permalink


    1. #2 I’m not a big fan of Dean but his Jett Rink was a pretty compelling contrast to the (then) ultra-manly screen persona of Rock Hudson. His portrayal of the older, richer Rink in Giant, however, was not convincing – IMO.

      Posted by C.L. on 2007 01 30 at 11:12 AM • permalink


    1. #5: Fascinating piece on Modigliani, C.L.

      Posted by paco on 2007 01 30 at 11:34 AM • permalink


    1. Nobody tilts like the late Saddam. Did you see that final picture of him assuming room temp?

      Posted by Latino on 2007 01 30 at 11:50 AM • permalink


    1. Yes, but his half-brother rather overdid it.

      Posted by ErnieG on 2007 01 30 at 12:05 PM • permalink


    1. Sibling rivalry – always have to top the brother.

      Posted by Latino on 2007 01 30 at 12:38 PM • permalink


    1. #2 paco –

      did anybody else out there find James Dean’s method-acting in Rebel Without a Cause to be an annoying affectation?

      I don’t know about that.  But personally I did not appreciate how he yelled at Mr. Howell.  I’m sure he upset Lovey.  Damn ingrate.

      Posted by wronwright on 2007 01 30 at 02:14 PM • permalink


    1. Tiltiness remains popular among leftist politicians in cinema-crazed France.

      Actually, the head tilt is for further impacting of ear wax, in the opposite, or upper ear. This of course is done to make sure that nothing coming close to making sense is heard, or understood.

      Posted by El Cid on 2007 01 30 at 02:38 PM • permalink


    1. #11: There’s a weird little story about some of the dialogue between Dean and Jim Backus in this Wikipedia article. I think it’s the eleventh bullet point under the “Trivia” heading.

      Posted by paco on 2007 01 30 at 03:19 PM • permalink


    1. I never understood the cult that grew up around James Dean.  The guy made four movies and then was killed in a car crash.  And he mumbled, like Marlon Brando.  And he’s been dead since 1955.

      You know whose head-tilting is a constant annoyance?  That guy David Caruso, the little red-headed leprechaun on CSI: Miami.  If you in Australia have not yet experienced this gem of a show… just wait.  Heh.

      Posted by RebeccaH on 2007 01 30 at 03:24 PM • permalink


    1. Never underestimate the power of “carroty good looks” (Carrottop, perhaps, excluded).  I noticed about 10 or so one-liners in that Caruso apparently is incapable of both speaking an replacing his sunglasses at the same time.  Plus, he uses that pregnant pause just before delivering the ‘twist’ to his one-liner.  Comparatively, the head tilting is almost soothing.  (I like CSI: Miami, I’m just way less wild about Caruso’s affectations.)

      Posted by JorgXMcKie on 2007 01 30 at 04:11 PM • permalink


    1. If James Dean survived to be old and fat, I don’t think he would have the cult following. He was the new breed of anti-hero, the sensitive male. Still doesn’t stand up to John Wayne or Clint Eastwood, imo.

      Posted by Latino on 2007 01 30 at 04:59 PM • permalink


    1. #16: Or Bob Mitchum, who was the original cool anti-hero (without all the quirky method-acting gimmicks).

      Posted by paco on 2007 01 30 at 05:13 PM • permalink


    1. Paco #17
      Shouldn’t Buster Keaton be the original anti-hero?


      Posted by J.M. Heinrichs on 2007 01 30 at 06:24 PM • permalink


    1. Tiltiness remains popular among leftist politicians in cinema-crazed France

      Looks like a strong wind blowing from right to left. If only they had vertebrae, eh?

      Posted by Contrail on 2007 01 30 at 08:02 PM • permalink


    1. Ah, James Dean. Or, as I like to call him, The Human Ashtray.

      Posted by Daniel San on 2007 01 30 at 08:46 PM • permalink


    1. There’s a PhD in this somewhere, if anyone’s fool enough to write it.

      Posted by roger on 2007 01 30 at 08:59 PM • permalink


    1. Could this shot of George Clooney be described as a ‘classic head tilt’?

      Posted by Bonmot on 2007 01 30 at 09:04 PM • permalink


    1. For the last couple of minutes I have been sitting here practicing head tilting and have discovered that I am obviously an arrogant prick as I can’t tilt at all and I also have to have some serious physio work done.

      Posted by allan on 2007 01 30 at 09:06 PM • permalink


    1. #22 Bonmot: Looks like he’s trying to hypnotize a dog.

      Posted by paco on 2007 01 30 at 09:10 PM • permalink


    1. #22 Bonmot, I think you’ll find Al Gore’s head just below his hand.

      Posted by Infidel Tiger on 2007 01 30 at 09:25 PM • permalink


    1. Also those snail munching, garlic reeking, white flag waving frog felchers think Jerry Lewis is a comic genius, Daft Punk are musicians and Renaults are motor cars, not barbeque briqettes on wheels.

      Posted by Habib on 2007 01 30 at 10:06 PM • permalink


    1. Okay, so you think this is funny, you callous bastards.

      Posted by Margos Maid on 2007 01 30 at 11:40 PM • permalink


    1. Re sick bunny stuff: aww! My head is tilting in sorrow as I write. Well actually, I’m just tired.

      Posted by Andrea Harris, Administrator on 2007 01 31 at 12:04 AM • permalink


    1. #27: Oh no! I am a callous bastard!

      Posted by paco on 2007 01 31 at 12:13 AM • permalink


    1. #27, Oh goodness.  You know, I was never interested in having a rabbit for a pet before.

      Now I’m extremely not interested.

      Posted by Steve Skubinna on 2007 01 31 at 12:47 AM • permalink


    1. #30- I think you’ll find you can have lots of fun with Mopsy, Flopsy and Cottontail (bring duct tape however).

      Keep in mind that male rabbits can be agressive and territorial when looking for a hoppity pal.

      Posted by Habib on 2007 01 31 at 02:09 AM • permalink


    1. #5, nope the original tiler was surely He Who Tilted at Windmills, one Don Quixote, invented for our fictional and tilting pleasure by Cervantes.

      Spanish dude – hang on! Was he implying The Don was a sissy!?

      Posted by carpefraise on 2007 01 31 at 05:46 AM • permalink


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