Rebel Without a Cause

Rebel Without a Cause

4.8 16
Director: Nicholas Ray

Cast: James Dean, Natalie Wood, Corey Allen

     
 

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This landmark juvenile-delinquent drama scrupulously follows the classic theatrical disciplines, telling all within a 24-hour period. Teenager Jimmy Stark (James Dean) can't help but get into trouble, a problem that has forced his appearance-conscious parents (Jim Backus and Ann Doran) to move from one town toSee more details below

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Overview

This landmark juvenile-delinquent drama scrupulously follows the classic theatrical disciplines, telling all within a 24-hour period. Teenager Jimmy Stark (James Dean) can't help but get into trouble, a problem that has forced his appearance-conscious parents (Jim Backus and Ann Doran) to move from one town to another. The film's tormented central characters are all introduced during a single night-court session, presided over by well-meaning social worker Ray (Edward Platt). Jimmy, arrested on a drunk-and-disorderly charge, screams "You're tearing me apart!" as his blind-sided parents bicker with one another over how best to handle the situation. Judy (Natalie Wood) is basically a good kid but behaves wildly out of frustration over her inability to communicate with her deliberately distant father (William Hopper). (The incestuous subtext of this relationship is discreetly handled, but the audience knows what's going on in the minds of Judy and her dad at all times.) And Plato (Sal Mineo), who is so sensitive that he threatens to break apart like porcelain, has taken to killing puppies as a desperate bid for attention from his wealthy, always absent parents.

The next morning, Jimmy tries to start clean at a new high school, only to run afoul of local gang leader Buzz (Corey Allen), who happens to be Judy's boyfriend. Anxious to fit in, Jimmy agrees to settle his differences with a nocturnal "Chickie Run": he and Buzz are to hop into separate stolen cars, then race toward the edge of a cliff; whoever jumps out of the car first is the "chickie." When asked if he's done this sort of thing before, Jimmy lies, "That's all I ever do." This wins him the undying devotion of fellow misfit Plato. At the appointed hour, the Chickie Run takes place, inaugurated by a wave of the arms from Judy. The cars roar toward the cliff; Jimmy is able to jump clear, but Buzz, trapped in the driver's set when his coat gets caught on the door handle, plummets to his death. In the convoluted logic of Buzz' gang, Jimmy is held responsible for the boy's death. For the rest of the evening, he is mercilessly tormented by Buzz' pals, even at his own doorstep. After unsuccessfully trying to sort things out with his weak-willed father, Jimmy runs off into the night. He links up with fellow "lost souls" Judy and Plato, hiding out in an abandoned palatial home and enacting the roles of father, mother, and son. For the first time, these three have found kindred spirits -- but the adults and kids who have made their lives miserable haven't given up yet, leading to tragedy. Out of the bleakness of the finale comes a ray of hope that, at last, Jimmy will be truly understood.

Rebel Without a Cause began as a case history, written in 1944 by Dr. Robert Lindner. Originally intended as a vehicle for Marlon Brando, the property was shelved until Brando's The Wild One (1953) opened floodgates for films about crazy mixed-up teens. Director Nicholas Ray, then working on a similar project, was brought in to helm the film version. His star was James Dean, fresh from Warners' East of Eden. Ray's low budget dictated that the new film be lensed in black-and-white, but when East of Eden really took off at the box office, the existing footage was scrapped and reshot in color. This was great, so far as Ray was concerned, inasmuch as he had a predilection for symbolic color schemes. James Dean's hot red jacket, for example, indicated rebellion, while his very blue blue jeans created a near luminescent effect (Ray had previously used the same vivid color combination on Joan Crawford in Johnny Guitar). As part of an overall bid for authenticity, real-life gang member Frank Mazzola was hired as technical advisor for the fight scenes. To extract as natural a performance as possible from Dean, Ray redesigned the Stark family's living room set to resemble Ray's own home, where Dean did most of his rehearsing. Speaking of interior sets, the mansion where the three troubled teens hide out had previously been seen as the home of Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard. Of the reams of on-set trivia concerning Rebel, one of the more amusing tidbits involves Dean's quickie in-joke impression of cartoon character Mr. Magoo -- whose voice was, of course, supplied by Jim Backus, who played Jimmy's father. Viewing the rushes of this improvisation, a clueless Warner Bros. executive took Dean to task, saying in effect that if he must imitate an animated character, why not Warners' own Bugs Bunny? Released right after James Dean's untimely death, Rebel Without a Cause netted an enormous profit. The film almost seems like a eulogy when seen today, since so many of its cast members -- James Dean, Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo, Nick Adams -- died young.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
A clenched fist of teenage alienation and cultural disillusion, Rebel Without a Cause questioned the complacent state of 1950s American society with the subtlety of a blow to the jaw. A truly landmark film, Rebel went where almost no Hollywood film had dared, exposing the anger and discontent beneath the prosperity and confidence of post-war America, picking at family values that dictated that happiness was best found in the nuclear family's well-appointed suburban home. The alienated kids in Rebel were part and parcel of these homes -- angry, wounded animals who rejected the very comforts that were supposed to make America superior to the rest of the world. If the notion that comfortable, middle-class white kids could harbor such feelings of anger and nameless yearning wasn't discomforting enough, even more so was the notion that their parents were ill-equipped to understand or help them. From Plato's neglectful mother and father to Jim's ineffectual parents to Judy's pathologically repressed father, all of the film's parents are seen as people whose conformity to the values of 1950s society masks their own discontent and -- in the case of Judy's father and Plato's parents -- underlying deviance. Thus, the teenagers are not so much the problem themselves as heirs to the problems created by the older and supposedly wiser generation. As the film was defined by the burning performances of its teenage leads, it is sadly ironic that their flames were extinguished before their time, so that Rebel has become as much eulogy as angry declaration. Sal Mineo, sad and touching as the lost boy infatuated with Dean's Jim Stark, was murdered near his Hollywood home, while Natalie Wood, who brought female sexual yearning to the screen in ways that had never before been seen, drowned in a mysterious boating accident. And, of course, Dean, at his most iconic in blue jeans and red jacket, died in a car accident before the film was even released. That Rebel Without a Cause remains a classic is in no small part due to Dean's raw, soulful performance, made more timeless by his mortality. Although the problems of the film's teenagers may seem trifling when compared to those of their modern-day counterparts, Rebel's anger still throbs with conviction, a brooding reminder that, beneath complacency, there is chaos trying to break free.

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Product Details

Release Date:
11/05/2013
UPC:
0883929278916
Original Release:
1955
Rating:
PG13
Source:
Warner Home Video
Region Code:
1
Time:
1:51:00
Sales rank:
3,095

Special Features

Closed Caption; Disc 1:; Digital transfer from restored picture and audio elements; Commentary by Douglas L. Rathgeb, author of The Making of Rebel Without a Cause; Theatrical trailer; ; Disc 2:; Rebel Without a Cause: Defiant Innocents documentary; Vintage documentary James Dean Remembered; Additional scenes (without sound); 3 segments from the Warner Bros. ; Presents TV series including Dean's famous Drive Safely commercial TV spot; Rare screen tests; Wardrobe tests

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
James Dean Jim Stark
Natalie Wood Judy
Corey Allen Buzz Gunderson
Sal Mineo Plato
Dennis Hopper Goon
Jim Backus Jim's father
William Hopper Judy's Father
Rochelle Hudson Judy's Mother
Virginia Brissac Jim's Grandma
Ann Doran Jim's Mother
Marietta Canty Plato's Nurse
Edward Platt Ray
Ian Wolfe Lecturer
Nick Adams Moose
Jack Grinnage Chick
Steffi Sidney Mil
Tom Bernard Harry
Louis Lane Woman Officer
Dick Wessel Guide
Beverly Long Helen
Frank Mazzola Crunch
Robert Foulk Gene
Dorothy Abbott Nurse
Jimmy Baird Beau
Paul Birch Police Chief
Paul Bryar Desk Sergeant
Nelson Leigh Sergeant
David McMahon Crunch's Father
Peter Miller Hoodlum
House Peters Officer
Nicholas Ray Man in last shot
Gus Schilling Attendant
Almira Sessions Old Lady Teacher
Robert B. Williams Moose's Father Ed

Technical Credits
Nicholas Ray Director,Screenwriter
Don Alvarado Asst. Director
Gordon Bau Makeup
Malcolm C. Bert Art Director
Robert Farfan Asst. Director
Ernest Haller Cinematographer
Stan Jones Sound/Sound Designer
Moss Mabry Costumes/Costume Designer
Leonard Rosenman Score Composer
Irving Shulman Screenwriter
Stewart Stern Screenwriter
William Wallace Production Designer,Set Decoration/Design
David Weisbart Producer
William H. Ziegler Editor

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Rebel Without a Cause
1. Drunken Credits
2. Judy's Dad Dilemma
3. Happy Birthday, Plato
4. Tearing Jim Apart
5. Need to Belong
6. Girl Next Door
7. New School, First Day
8. Planetarium Field Trip
9. "Let's Bring Him Down"
10. Peer and Tire Pressure
11. Knife Fight
12. Apron-Strung
13. Age Where Nothing Fits
14. No Answer How
15. Preliminaries with Buzz
16. Chickie Run
17. Home From Cliff's Edge
18. All Involved
19. "Dad, Stand Up For Me"
20. No One to Listen
21. "Your Lips are Soft"
22. Heartbroken - And Armed
23. Looking for Jim
24. Old Deserted Mansion
25. Happy Now
26. What It's Like to Love Somebody
27. Plato's Terror
28. Making Them Family
29. Return to the Planetarium
30. "I Think I Know My Son"
31. When the End Will Come
32. Friends Keep Promises
33. Plato's Death
34. "You Can Depend On Me"
35. Friends and Family
Disc #2 -- Rebel Without a Cause
1. Introduction [5:31]
2. Sammy Davis Jr. [7:37]
3. Getting Started [6:02]
4. Natalie Wood [11:48]
5. Sal Mineo [8:13]
6. Leonard Rosenman [11:17]
7. Giant [4:49]
8. Need for Speed [2:54]
9. Steve Allen [6:08]
10. Coda and End Credits [1:53]

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