Jim Stark is the new kid in town. He has been in trouble elsewhere; that's why his family has had to move before. Here he hopes to find the love he doesn't get from his middle-class family. Though he finds some of this in his relation with Judy, and a form of it in both Plato's adulation and Ray's real concern for him, Jim must still prove himself to his peers in switchblade knife fights and "chickie" games in which cars race toward a seaside cliff. Written by
Ed Stephan <[email protected]>
Marlon Brando filmed a screen test in New York City for an earlier, eventually abandoned, version of the film in 1947 on a break in rehearsals for the original Broadway production of "A Streetcar Named Desire". See more »
During the race scene there's a shot of buzz's left hand cuff caught on a door handle that faces forward. The very next shot shows his left hand on the wheel and his right hand trying to free himself from a completely different door handle that faces backwards. The first door has a stripped upholstery and the next is just plain gray. See more »
First police officer:
Get up, get up. Mixed up in that beating on 12th street, huh?
Second police officer:
No. Plain drunkenness.
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James Dean Cult-Classic about "misunderstood" teens in 1950s
Brilliant cast of well-known Hollywood icons in hard-hitting treatment of story that focuses on the hopelessness exhibited by many middle-class teenagers who were too young to recall the pains of WWII, but saw daily reminders of the threat of "the bomb", as well as inequities around them.
James Dean stands out as the troubled kid whose parents keep "moving" to escape their community's effects of their son's strange behavior. Equally great are the performances of Natalie Wood as a "wanna-be-bad-girl" who is hurt by her parents' implications that she is a "tramp"; and the child-like Sal Mineo, who lives in a mansion with a maid, but feels the pains of neglect from never-present parents.
The trio first meet at a police station, where they all see a well-meaning officer who is genuinely interested in getting these troubled kids back on the right track rather than throwing the book at them. He does seem to reach James Dean, who seeks help after getting into more trouble.
The relationship between the James Dean character and that of Sal Mineo is somewhat elusive. At times a more than friendly association is suggested, then the appearance of Natalie Wood makes it look like an odd threesome. 1950s America was definitely unprepared for any "spelling out" of suggested terms, so for nearly 50 years now anyone's guess as to what was going on here is as good as the next.
The supporting cast include Jim Backus as James Dean's well-to-do yet wimpish and henpecked father as well as a young Dennis Hopper as a member of a greaser gang. The parade of big name stars in itself is eye-candy of the highest caliber! References to scientific findings are still awe-inspiring today. Showing young college students' reactions to film footage during a lecture shows that humans can't fully grasp the insignificance of earthly life compared to the vastness of the universe. Carefully watch the final scene as the end credits are shown, when this "point" is driven home.
Rebel Without A Cause is one of the great classics with a sociological impact that has seldom been reached by any film, and likely never surpassed. This film is a ceaseless source of discussions. I recommend this film also for high school History, Sociology or Language Arts classes.
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