Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

Rebel Without a Cause
Directed by Nicholas Ray
(number 477)

Skipped ahead a bit with this one, because I’ve had some trouble finding movies. Anyways, this is definitely one of those classic films which nobody seems to have seen. I was excited for it because of that and also because Hamish took me to see Giffiths Observatory in July and I was interested to see how it’s used. There’s a James Dean bust at the observatory now:

jennitalula james dean

This film is known as a James Dean vehicle, but more than that it’s Natalie Wood’s film as well. She’s amazing in it, displaying the same lonesome need for affection that Jim does, showing how much she wants.. and how uncertain she is about how to get what she wants.

The forerunner of American teen movies and what feels like the first display of the wise cracking, bad boy rebel (but secretly very hurt, emotional and loving) trope which I love so very much. This is a fantastic film. Dean’s Jim is funny, he’s tough and he’s sardonic. He is open about expressing himself to his father, and trying to shake the gang who has it in for him.

The character of Plato is an interesting third addition to the James and Natalie love story. He seems to adore Jim – and it didn’t go unnoticed by me or Ellen that he had a pin up of a male star in his locker at school. Plato is the character who would be played by Darren Criss now – all huge beautiful eyes and dark curls. I like to read homo-eroticism into things, but this seems pretty straight forward. There’s a scene where he falls asleep on the floor, Jim affectionately stroking his hair from the couch, where Judy is stroking James’s hair. Look… it’s just casual affection but…

well okay later Plato yells at Jim that he’s not his dad…

There are a lot of daddy issues in this movie, though. All three main teens have them. It’s good. Having daddy issues makes a good story 😄

Does it make me love the people? Absolutely. This is a top notch story, one that seems so familiar now because versions of it have been done over and over. The leads are all excellent, and you feel for them.

Bechdel test: No. There are a lot of named female characters who have large-ish roles in the film but they never speak to each other. Natalie Wood’s issues are all with her father, not her mother, although they are in scenes together.

Best line: Plato: Do you think the end of the world will happen at night time?
Jim: Nuh-uh, at dawn.

State of Mind: Love. Yeah this is awesome.

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