Friday, December 18, 2009


An exhibit in Madrid showcasing the original Engineer Boots James Dean wore on Rebel Without a Cause suggests they were a pair of 1940's/Early 1950's Chippewa's. Movie and wardrobe stills, lobby cards and posters, lends doubt to the fact these are the actual boots worn in the film.

The still of James Dean and Sal Mineo during a break from the chicken race (in my own opinion) doesn't remind me of any 40's/50's Chippewa's that I've ever seen. In fact, they kind of look like western toe's were slapped on to a pair of Wesco Boss'. In no way am I suggesting they are Wesco's (Brando allegedly wore Wesco's on The Wild One); however, they do not look like Chippewa's.

Although an amazing pair of Chippewa Engineer Boots, it is extremely unfortunate the inset straps were removed - who would do such a blasphemous thing?!?. A good cobler could re-attach a strap and buckle, but getting the leather to match a sixty-year-old pair of boots would prove extremely difficult. Even without the inset strap, I'd venture to say they could bring in no less than $350. I can't begin to imagine what they would bring in with proof of authenticity that they were THE boots from the film.

Notice the awesome stacked heels. It's obvious they have been (at least) re-heeled as the wear is inconsistent with the overall boot.

The below promo photo shows a pair of stacked heel boots (possibly even cowboy boots as he wore them off screen); however, as indicated on the toe of the left boot, they definitely aren't the same as the "original" boots or the the boots shown above with Sal Mineo. One would think "well, toe shape changes over years and years of wear and tear." From personal experiences with many vintage engineer boots, toe shape does not change. Motorcycle shift wear is non-existent, so that can be ruled out.

Could it be possible that there were more than one pair of Engineer boots worn in the film by the lead character? Perhaps, but I sure would like to know if the Madrid exhibit that displayed the boots as belonging to James Dean were only one of a few worn on the film.

Still... an amazing pair of boots.

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