Quick recap: Jim Stark is a troubled youth who moves into a new town to escape his troubled past. This lasts about 10 seconds before someone calls him chicken and then he’s ready to do anything to prove himself. And he TOTALLY has a cause, you guys.
Fun (?) fact: All of the main characters in this film met some horrible fate. James Dean was in a car accident, Natalie Wood ‘drowned’ and Sal Mineo was stabbed to death. Looking back, I guess that wasn’t such a fun fact.
My thoughts: As I approach the ripe old age of 30, I am reminded more and more that I am no longer a youth. I’d like to think I’m more hip than others (notice my use of the word ‘hip’), but my mentality is alas that of an adult. So, although I can rightly say that Rebel Without a Cause was an enjoyable movie, its effect was mostly lost on me. I think if these teens had just played by the rules by turning that music down and getting off of those lawns, everything would’ve been ok.
This was such a movie made for teens. James Dean was certainly an icon and he played the role of Stark better than anyone else could’ve. At the same time, 3/4 of the movie (my rough estimate) was spent leaning against something or posing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. Maybe leaning against stuff was the fad back then. Or maybe it’s what teen stars do. Back in my day, the teens were into Leonardo DiCaprio and Freddie Prinze Jr., who may or may not have leaned on stuff. But what they didn’t have that Dean did, was passion. Dean was a true teen. I also loved Natalie Wood, but I’d love her in whatever role she played.
At the same time teens could relate to this movie, so could parents. Stark’s life was messed up because of his parents, according to the movie. I really didn’t see the big deal, compared to, say, Judy, who’s father refused to show any sort of affection. In the end, it was the adults who were the true villains and these poor innocent teens were just misunderstood. Take Plato’s (played by Mineo) role. His story begins in the police station, when he is brought in for SHOOTING PUPPIES. But he only shoots puppies because his father abandoned him. So, if anything, this movie was one long PSA to adults to start paying attention to your kid or they will start shooting puppies.
Final review: 4/5. This is true American cinema, and so I really enjoyed the historical context. The plot was kind of silly and melodramatic, but what teen drama isn’t?
Up next: Salt of the Earth