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Plot: A rebellious young man with a troubled past comes to a new town, finding friends and enemies. Runtime: 111 mins Release Date: 29 Oct 1955
Nicholas Ray may be the most distinctive American director of the 1950s, and certainly the most deeply romantic. His career was marked by indiosyncratic stories about characters driven by deep internal conflicts, inward violence and outward sexual confusion. Rebel Without A Cause is the film where all of his themes meet, and slightly edges out Johnny Guitar and In A Lonely Place as my favorite Ray film.Some people will certainly find the dialogue here to be rather stilted, and the performances melodramatic. I won't argue. Ray's films in general opposed 'realism' that most <more>
unreal of artistic concepts in favor of the mythic.What's particularly satisfying about the film is its cohesiveness, binding together its many disparate events and characters with highly parallel themes and motifs. All of its central characters seem caught in psychosexual conflicts rife with familial gender conflict. Jim James Dean is caught between a weakling, effeminated father and a domineering but inneffectual mother. Judy Natalie Wood and her father are seperated by his uncomfortable relation to her sexuality. Plato Sal Mineo , worst of all, is a practical orphan, who suffers all the more for his just under the surface homosexuality. It's interesting to note here that Plato may be Hollywood's first sympathetic of a gay character. All of them are driven by internal demons springing from these conflicts.As usual, Ray is a remarkably sensitive photographer. And here he proves himself a master of color. There are too many beautiful scenes to mention here, but the planetarium scene with the recorded voiceover about human loneliness beginning of the 'chickie run' are both stunning.The film seems divided between claustrophobic nightmares and utopian fantasies. The skewed camera angles of Jim's scenes with his parents contrast with the heavenly dream of teenage paradise in the abandoned house. The staircase motif seems to mark several of these transitions.In any case, this is a stunning film by a consummate artist, and should certainly be viewed apart from the distorting lens of the James Dean myth. Dean, for his part, is remarkable here, although, as I stated above, the performances here are in a style far removed from what today's audiences are accustomed to.It's quite silly to say, as several people have here, that this film's themes are 'dated'. They seem to be the constant themes of youth: idealism vs. cynicism, the turmoil of sexual awakening, the desire to fit in, and the internal violence that constantly threatens to become external. To say that these no longer apply because these kids have never heard of ecstasy or the crips is like saying that "Hamlet" no longer rings true because nobody swordfights anymore.My one complaint about this film is with the title. Certainly quite dramatic, it sounds more like a marketing tagline than any kind of description of the goings on of this film. Jim seems less like a rebel than a young man caught in an inescapable turmoil, and his reaction to the final tragedy belies his lack of a cause. But this is a minor complaint, and I can recommend this film without reservation.
The teenage years are a confusing time for anyone. You start to act different, think different, and realize that you are growing up and there is nothing you can do about it. For Jim Stark this is more than he can handle.Nicholas Ray's classic Rebel Without a Cause is a look into the life of Jim Stark James Dean and his attempt to try and figure out what he wants to do with his life. Should he try to become an adult or should he enjoy what little time he has left and cut loose?The movie opens with Jim after he has had a few too many drinks. After being taken to the police station his <more>
parents are brought in to help find out what he did and why he did it. His parents Jim Backus and Ann Doran are torn over what to do with him. The father is understanding but the mother wants him to learn his lesson and make sure it does not happen again. Their fighting is "tearing him apart!".Also at the station is Judy Natalie Wood and John "Plato" Crawford Sal Mineo . Jim offers his coat to Plato but he refuses. It was just a kind gesture, but given Plato's emotional state, it is a justified response.The next day is Jim's first day at his new school. He leaves the house in a good mood, telling his parents how this might be it for him. After meeting Judy, who appears to be unfazed by the incident she had in the police station, Jim is off to school where he learns of a field trip for that afternoon to the planetarium.It is hear where he encounters Buzz, the leader of the "cool" crowd. After slashing Jim's tires, it's "examination time", or a little knife fight. No jabbing, just sticking. Jim almost loses it but keeps his cool. Buzz challenges Jim to a "chicee race" at the bluffs. Jim accepts having no idea what that is.The events that follow are like a wild goose chase for Jim and his new friends. They go everywhere from the bluffs, to an abandoned mansion, and the planetarium. It's a wonderfully written script using great dialogue between Jim and his parents. The camera work is also a magnificent display, using great angles and unique shots. Ray had the perfect vision of what he wanted his film to look like.Color is often used to showcase significance or symbolize a certain aspect of the film. Jim's red jacket, Judy's red coat in the beginning, and Buzz and all his cronies where black leather coats.Dean's performance is remarkable. It is a shame he was only featured in 3 films, none the less, he is one of America's icons. He symbolizes what every guy wants to be. He is not the only good performer. Backus gives a tremendous performance as the father, the understanding, somewhat lenient parent of Jim Stark. Wood and Mineo both received Oscar nominations and both were well deserved.As mentioned earlier, these are the most confusing years for a teenager. One scene that says it perfectly is after the knife incident when Jim comes home. He walks up the stairs to find what appears to be his mother in an apron cleaning up. It turns out to be his father cleaning up the food he spilled for his wife who is a little under the weather. They both laugh and Jim tells him to leave the food so she can see it. The father doesn't understand and Jim just keeps telling him to. He gets flustered and walks away. He stutters and just can't give a straight answer to his father. This is a perfect comparison to much of Jim's life. He does something but cannot explain it.Rebel Without a Cause is a classic from the 1950's. A movie that to this day is a perfect example of how each new generation is as rebellious as the one before it.
A Classic; the Best-ever Film about Adolescence (by JamesHitchcock)
Contains spoilersFilms about juvenile delinquency were not new in 1955, but earlier films on the subject, such as 'Angels with Dirty Faces' from the late thirties, and even others from the same period, such as 'Blackboard Jungle' which also came out in 1955, had tended to locate the problem among the urban poor of the slums. 'Rebel Without a Cause' is different in that it focuses on delinquency among the teenagers of an affluent middle-class community.The film starts with a teenage boy named Jim Stark being arrested by the police for being drunk and disorderly and <more>
taken to the police station. His parents have recently moved to the area, and he is depressed because his parents move house frequently and he finds it difficult to make new friends. The school which he attends is dominated by a culture of swaggering masculine bravado and aggression. A premium is placed on displays of physical courage and on proving one's worth by fighting; the worst insult in this society is 'chicken'. Boys are expected to fit in with the prevailing ethos in order to gain the respect of their peers and to stand a chance of getting a girlfriend. Although Jim longs for friendship and acceptance, he is also skeptical of this ethos, which makes him something of an outsider. He quarrels with Buzz, the leader of the 'in-crowd', who accuses him of being a 'chicken'. Jim feels forced to prove his courage against Buzz, first in a knife-fight, and then in a 'Chickie Run', a ritualised test of nerve which involves driving stolen cars as close as possible to the edge of a cliff before jumping out. During the latter Buzz is killed when he is unable to escape from his car in time; it is Jim's feelings of guilt arising from this incident, and the desire of Buzz's friends for revenge, which provoke the film's tragic climax. Although much of the comment about this film has concentrated on the charismatic figure of Dean, the film is not just about Jim. It has at its heart a triangular relationship between Jim and two other teenagers, Judy and Plato, all of whom can be seen as a rebels- 'without a cause' in the sense that they are not motivated by any political or social ideal, but also 'with a cause' in the sense that there is a reason why they act as they do. Nevertheless, in each case the cause of their revolt is subtly different. Each has been brought up in a different way. Jim's parents are kindly and liberal, but are too indulgent. His father, in particular, is well-meaning but weak, unable to provide his son with intelligent advice or with a role-model of manliness. Plato whose real name is John, but who prefers to be called by his nickname, which suggests his intellectual nature is a strange, lonely boy. Our first view of him is at the police station, where he has been arrested for shooting some puppies. We do not learn any more about this incident, but what we hear is enough to suggest that Plato is emotionally disturbed. Plato's parents are separated; he never sees his father and his mother is frequently absent, leaving him to be brought up by an elderly maidservant. The shy, bookish Plato makes no attempt to fit in with the other students, who look down on him, but he sees Jim as a fellow-outsider and befriends him. I felt that there were hints that Plato is sexually attracted to Jim and jealous of his growing friendship with Judy, but in the moral climate of the fifties these hints could not be fully developed. If my theory is correct, Plato's nickname may also have ironic overtones, Plato being the philosopher who advocated sexless 'platonic' love between males .Whereas Jim's parents are over-liberal and Plato's absent, Judy's are cold and authoritarian. Unlike the boys, she starts off as a member of the 'in-crowd', as she is Buzz's girlfriend, but after Buzz's death a romance develops between Jim and herself. The main theme of the film is the choice between the desire to conform to accepted values and the desire to rebel by finding one's own individual ones, a choice that seems particularly acute in one's teenage years. The film suggests that this choice is more complex than might be thought. Although the students are rebellious in the sense that they scorn the more peaceful values of adult life, they are also deeply conformist in the sense that they will tolerate no deviation from their own values. Jim, Judy and Plato can be seen as rebels against not only the older generation but also against the values of their contemporaries. Even Buzz, as much as Jim or Plato, can be seen as a victim of the students' system of values. A more attractive side to his character is shown in the scenes before the fateful 'chickie run' where he and Jim discover a respect, even a liking for one another; certainly, neither wishes any harm to befall the other, but for reasons of honour neither feels able to withdraw from their ritual duel.Throughout the film there is an atmosphere of heightened emotion- it has not one, but two, emotional climaxes, the 'chickie run' and the final scene where Jim, Judy and Plato are hiding in the planetarium from Buzz's friends and from the police. It is a film that needs fine acting, both to convey this emotional atmosphere and to do justice to its ambitious theme. Fortunately, all three leads are equal to the task. Sal Mineo as Plato and Natalie Wood as Judy are both good, but James Dean is better than good, making the anguished figure of Jim come vividly alive. Although Dean was twenty-four at the time, several years older than the supposed age of his character, he was brilliant at portraying a tormented adolescent. It is strange that he did not receive a 'Best Actor' Oscar nomination. He was, of course, nominated for his role in 'East of Eden'. Is there a rule which prevents the same actor from being nominated twice in one year? Some of the supporting cast are also excellent, particularly Jim Backus as Jim's weak but well-meaning father, and Corey Allen, who resists the temptation to play Buzz simply as an arrogant hooligan. 'Rebel Without a Cause' is, in my view, one of the best films of the fifties and probably the best-ever film about adolescence and 'coming of age'. I am surprised it has not made your top 250 films and that it was not nominated for 'Best Picture'. 10/10.
Just so far ahead of its time.... (by wisewebwoman)
This film bears watching once every 5 years or so. It is astonishing on many levels, not least of which is the exploration of the underbelly of the happy suburban post-war years in middle class America.Yes, we all rave about the beautiful and sadly short lived life of James Dean who died before this movie opened. To die also in a manner highlit in this movie - he was co-incidentally a promo for it. Fast driving and fast cars. Poor James.What I enjoy most though in all of it is the afore-mentioned exploration of hitherto fairly underdeveloped film themes in the America of the fifties. For one, <more>
there is the underlying homosexual element to the Sal Mineo character and his obsession with James. And here James is allowed to indulge and return this love, not overtly, but it is there, the tolerance and acknowledgment of it.The character of Judy, played by Natalie Wood is also of tremendous interest. Here there is an incestuous component in her relationship to her father. It seems to me that the father is terrified of his attraction to his gorgeous daughter and keeps pushing her away to the degree that at one point he slaps her as she tries to kiss him. She escapes from home at every chance seeking male attention from wherever she can get it.James' parents are a little overblown and too quickly resolved at the end. But the appearance of an "emasculated" Jim Backus he wears an apron in case we don't quite get it! is a sight for sore eyes. A little dated in the world of today but so far ahead of its time in 1955.9 out 10. Satisfying on many levels.
I was quite impressed with _Rebel Without a Cause_. I expected it to be quite standard, having only gathered its reputation because of the tragedy surrounding James Deans' death. Fortunately, it stood up on its own quite well. Its superficial situations are somewhat dated, which was inevitable, but its themes remain potent after many decades.The major theme is the burgeoning relationship between adults and their teenage children. All three of the main characters are at different stages in this process. Jim James Dean is surprisingly at the earliest stage of this. His mother is pretty <more>
distanced and unresponsive already, but he still seems to communicate well with his father Jim Backus, who is amazing. His character's relationship with his wife also provides an interesting view into 1950s gender politics; in one scene, Backus is wearing a cooking apron, which is very obviously meant for a woman . Judy Natalie Wood, whom I didn't even recognize here is almost completely rejected by her father, who feels that her affection is out of place in her teenage years. Worst of all is Plato, both of whose parents have left him alone in the world. He tries desperately to make Jim and Judy his parents although from this vantage point in time, Plato seems resoundingly sexually attracted to Jim, and he sees Judy as a threat to their relationship. Although the writer/director has denied that forever, no human being can watch it nowadays without that thought constantly crossing their mind .The reason that I say this film is flawed lies in the actions of Plato near the end of the film. I felt his escalating insanity was kind of a cop-out. Instead of actually delving into Plato's true character and motives by having intelligent and realistic dialogue and actions, he is just made to go batty, wherein he spouts off his thoughts as if he were some eight year old or man-child. Plato may have been sycophantic throughout the film, but he was anything but a moron. His actions provide an easy way for the director/writer to answer all questions about his character, and then to facilitate an ending which is tragic, but more than a little contrived.Despite what I feel is a cop-out ending, _Rebel Without a Cause remains a thoroughly powerful film. I liked it, and I'll never forget it. 9/10
The most emotional of films... (by Nazi_Fighter_David)
Jim Stark James Dean is a lonely desperate teenager, who supposedly hasn't a friend in the world when we first see him lying drunk in an L.A gutter... But his personality is such that within a twenty-four-hour period he makes friends with Plato Sal Mineo and Judy Natalie Wood , two misunderstood teenagers completely different from each other and himself...Every tempestuous young boy who considers himself friendless, confused, and aimless, can easily identify with Jim... For the youth of the middle 1950's, Dean's screen image was a symbol of loneliness, anger, and <more>
frustration...Jim's appealing characteristics are his sincerity, his warmth toward Judy, his concern for his friend Plato whom no one else likes his protectiveness, his shyness, his bravery, his good looks, his tender way of kissing, and his desperate need to be loved...Jim is a troubled new student in a high school in Los Angeles, who is not only willing to reveal that he loves his father, but also has the capacity to cry - which he does often... His one bad characteristic is his violent nature, but at least his fury is not directed at Judy or his friend Plato... He meets these two in jail, where he has been taken on a drunk and disorderly charge...Jim and Julie have an immediate connection, and Plato warns them against Julie's boyfriend, Buzz... Buzz and his gang slash the tires of Jim's cars and a fight ensues... The boys decide to settle their differences by having a 'chicken run.' Each will drive a stolen car toward the brink of a cliff, and the first to jump before the automobile lunges over will be a coward...In the 1950s, the two basic ways that youth could rebel seemed to be through acts of violence and delinquency and through gathering into groups and being directed by a group leader... Richard Brooks' "Blackboard Jungle" vividly described that situation...As teenagers we liked being called 'rebels.' At that age we weren't out to destroy the 'system,' but like Jim we wanted the 'system' to become more sensitive to our needs, to apologize for being careless, and to make us part of the existing order...At that age we recognized Jim's failure to communicate with his parents, and the way he mumbled when he thought no one was listening and started his sentences over, louder and clearer... He was our ideal... Everything he said was so right, so clever, so cool...When the unfriendly Judy calls him a YoYo and runs off to join her friends, he says softly, "I love you, too." When the now friendly Judy asks him why he kissed her on the forehead, he says simply: "I felt like it." When Buzz asks him if he knows what a "chickie run" is, he fibs, "That's all I ever do." When Plato asks him if he can keep his jacket, Jim exclaims, "Well, what do you think?"At that age Nicholas Ray's teenagers were hopelessly confused, seeking advice and getting no answers... Their confusion was symbolized by Plato's mismatched socks... Jim, Judy, and Plato pretend to be a family unit based on a mutual trust and understanding, the only structure which can combat the cosmic emptiness of 'man alone.''Rebel Without a Cause' is the first film to suggest that juvenile violence is not necessarily bred in the poor neighborhoods... It is the disenchanted cry of youth, neglected by their parents, and alienated from the adult world...Judy sobs that her father stops kissing her when she was sixteen, and causes her pain when he labels her a 'dirty tramp.' Plato is lost and in despair because his absent, divorced parents have left him completely in the care of a black housekeeper... During questioning, he asserts: "Nobody can help me."In watching 'Rebel Without a Cause,' we can see the desperate father-son relationship, the need to be loved and understood as an individual... That is why 'Rebel Without a Cause' is the best of the alienated-youth films of the period, and the most emotional of films...Dean's death in an automobile accident in 1955 was a crippling blow to one of the most characteristic elements of fifties cinema...
Rebel Still Visceral and Moody After All These Years (by movieman-200)
Nicholas Ray's "Rebel Without A Cause" 1955 is probably the film most closely associated with James Dean's iconic persona as the volatile, yet soulful teenager with a chip on his shoulder. Dean is Jim Stark a young man who's hen-pecked by an overbearing mother Ann Doran and compromised in his reference of adult masculinity by a weak father figure Jim Backus . Though it is suggested that Jim's relocation to a new school is the result of his wild run in with the law, the film begins on a night of drunken debauchery.While awaiting his family in the police <more>
station, Jim eyes fast girl, Judy Natalie Wood , but takes an invested interest in a young man in whom he sees varying shades of his former self the self-destructive, Plato Sal Mineo . Judy's association with greaser, Buzz Corey Allen ensures a volatile conflict between Buzz and Jim; and there are two. The first is a fight with switch blades outside the famed planetarium near Los Angeles. But, as this early attempt at asserting who's the leader of the pack is thwarted by police intervention, Buzz and Jim settle on another venue at another time; the justly celebrated game of chicken that has both men racing their automobiles towards a dangerous cliff. Given Dean's untimely death at the hands of the wheel, this sequence has particularly ominous significance for today's viewer. But in the film, at the last minute, good sense prevails and Jim bails out of his car. Buzz's sleeve gets caught on the door handle. He sails over the cliff and dies in a fiery explosion. From this point on, Jim spirals into an emotional whirlpool. He's distracted from total self destruction by Judy's kind and understanding way, their growing romantic affection for one another, and, Plato's looming and dangerous disdain for authority. Of course, you just know this is going to end badly.Like most sensationalist melodrama of the 1950s, "Rebel" is dated by today's standards. Its grasp on sexual politics and what it means to be a man, in a society that asks for conformity rather than self assertion, is an ominous precursor to the folly of wayward youth that was later embodied in such films as Blackboard Jungle and West Side Story. What the film does offer from the contemporary perspective, is a time capsule of 50s sensibilities that oddly enough, continue to resonate with teenagers and twenty-something's to this very day. This 2 disc edition of "Rebel" is a welcomed treat. Though the original single disc had a very nice looking transfer this newly minted DVD appears to have more subtle nuances in color fidelity, and, with the added treat of owing considerably less to film grain. Colors are rich, vibrant and bold. Blacks are solid and velvety deep. Whites are generally clean. Though there are some examples of fading between dissolves these are inherent shortcomings in all early Cinemascope productions and not the flaw of DVD mastering. The audio is a remix of the original magnetic six track that accompanied "Rebel's" roadshow engagement. It's remarkably bold and sonically stirring. Extras include a new documentary on the making of the film, as well as the original featurettes that were featured on the single disc, plus a James Dean bio that is very much a collector's item
REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE Aspect ratio: 2.55:1 CinemaScope Sound format: 4-track magnetic stereoA troubled teenager James Dean struggles to find his place in a new school, where he falls in love with a fellow student Natalie Wood and is forced into a confrontation with her bullying boyfriend Corey Allen , leading to unexpected tragedy...Nicholas Ray's quintessential Fifties melodrama arrived during a sea-change in American cinema, at a time when the glossy fantasies made popular during wartime were becoming supplemented by tougher movies offering a realistic depiction of contemporary <more>
society cf. THE NAKED CITY, BLACKBOARD JUNGLE, MARTY, EAST OF EDEN, etc. . Stewart Stern's coy script may seem a little dated now, but the drama still resonates with modern audiences, and there's a wealth of surprising subplots and subtexts, including Natalie Wood's impressive turn as an immature teenager who feels rejected by her father William Hopper because he refuses to indulge the kind of affections he lavished on her as a child, and Sal Mineo as the brittle interloper who keeps a picture of Alan Ladd in his school locker and develops an obvious crush on the dazzling new boy, played by Dean. A formidable young talent, Dean's signature red jacket affords him a visual prominence over his fellow actors, and he gauges the emotional honesty of each sequence with uncanny precision. Director Ray uses the scope frame in a wholly expressive manner, dividing his characters across the length and breadth of the panoramic screen and tilting the image at crucial dramatic moments. A-list production values, powerhouse supporting cast, including Jim Backus, Ann Doran, Edward Platt and Dennis Hopper.
This movie was certainly launched at the right time - it captures the mood and substance of the youth of the Fifties - it was a different time from any other and yet it has a poignancy that stands up well today. Beautifully acted by James Dean, Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo who would have to do it all so differently if this film was to be re-made in 2004. The parents were played by Ann Doran and Jim Backus in roles so different from what they did before and after. The final scenes are enthralling, and James Dean certainly shows what a fine talent was lost by his early death after only three <more>
films of note, but I feel that "Rebel" was his finest effort.