rebel-without-cause

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REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (1955)

Director Nicholas Ray's Oscar-nominated tale of teen anomie runs strikingly against the grain in its depiction of 1950s America. When rebellious teen Jim Stark (James Dean) comes to Los Angeles with his troubled family, he soon falls hard for girl-next-door Judy (Natalie Wood) – and forms a friendship with fellow-delinquent Plato (Sal Mineo). The three of them become surrogate family for each other, offering an unforgettable portrait of Eisenhower-era suburban alienation. An unintentionally deadly game of chicken sparks a downward spiral that ends in a fatal confrontation with police at the Griffith Park Observatory.

The cast includes: James Dean, Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo, William Hopper, Corey Allen, Nick Adams, and Dennis Hopper.

#59 on the AFI Top 100.

Director, Nicholas Ray, with "Rebel Without A Cause," made one of the first films that look realistically at teen life.

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The basic story involves a troubled teenager, Jim (James Dean) and his attempt to fit into his society. Eventually, when the bad boys won't leave him alone, thratening his honor, he takes part in an ill-fated car drag race, with tragic results.

A new kid, Jim Stark, moves to town with his middle class family, who finds himself often in trouble, as he tries to find love and acceptance that he can't find at home. He is spinning out of control, and his parents, (Jim Bacus and Anne Doran) are at their witts end, and don't know how to help him. While he partially finds what he needs from an equally troubled friend, Plato (Sal Moreno), who cares about him, and a rebellious, wanna-be bad girlfriend, Judy (Natalie Wood), who thinks she loves him, he still has the self-destructive tendency to get involved in such risky behavior as switchblade knife fights and "chickie" games, that involve car racing toward a cliff, when challenged by the local hoods to prove himself.

The film is a classic because of its still relevant story about the timeless problems teenagers have with themselves, peer pressure, bullies, parents and families, while trying to find their place in the world. It also relates to the problems parents face in raising teenagers, who are complicated people, striving for emotional independence, showing what doesn't work.

Inspiring direction, by Nicholas Ray, an insightful screenplay, by Stewart Stern, gives its talented cast plenty of motivation and material to work with. Especially good are James Dean, Natalie Wood, and Sal Mineo as the teenage threesome.

A favorite scene takes place in the Griffith Park Observatory. As Dean and Mineo and Wood watch the planetarium light show, their faces are illuminated by surreal lighting, as though THEY are the aliens.

A young Dennis Hopper is convincing as a young hood, hassling Jim Sark.

This film was really popular with teens, as it explores problems relevant to them. While a little dated, it still is relevant

If you enjoyed REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE, you may like WEST SIDE STORY, AMERICAN GRAFFITI ORDINARY PEOPLE, PARENTHOOD, UP THE DOWN STAIRCASE, THE BREAKFAST CLUB, and GIANT.

rebel-without-a-cause