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Thursday, August 1, 2013

165 of 1001 Movies: Rebel Without a Cause (1954)

Bigger Than Life was the other Nicholas Ray movie I had watched, and so I knew that I should expect very stereotyped 1950's families, and lots of colors. The stereotypes he deal with though then are what make his films so good at analyzing the culture of the 50's though. He seems to be one of the few directors then trying to make movies about people then, and just what did drive them and the next generation. There is just something about the movies that show the 50's how we imagine them, and then a bit more into the harshness of being a teen at the time with all the levels of expectations. It does build the bridge I think though in helping the younger crowd understand that previous generations have through the same battles for responsibility and acceptance they have.

Summary: Jim's parents have moved once again to a new neighborhood in order to help their son try to find a group of people he can fit in with better, since he has had such a hard time with making friends before. He instantly finds trouble though with a new crowd who begins challenging him to switchblades fights and dangerous car games. He does find some positives though in this place though including a growing interest in a girl, Judy, and the very desperate friendship of a boy who feels abandon by all others, Plato.


Acting: The acting is a little over the top at times from Natalie Wood and James Dean, but as the movie goes on from the beginning they level out to be really good. I think it's just when Dean is doing Jim crying that it looks really odd to me. The perception that has always been in my mind before watching was that Dean was this completely, rebellious, motorcycle, riding troublemaker, and that really isn't what he is at all. He's a bit of a softy who just hates feeling that he could become his father one day who has become something of a coward in his eyes. I liked how he sort of plays him out that way to surprise you. Natalie Wood is Judy, and I think she does a good job of playing that transitioning phase of beginning to understand what attracts men, but also feeling torn of being that little girl and how her father sees her. Lastly, there is Sal Mineo as Plato, and he is really just creepy. I get he feels abandon, and I hated it for the dude, but I had a really hard time feeling for him because he was just so dang eerie! He was like the prelude to Psycho.

Filming: Color and color. That is what really stands out about the film, especially since it was filmed in the 50's. I haven't saw a movie that Ray did in black and white yet, which was pretty standard for the time.  Other than that though I would say the transitions are quite simple, and smooth. There isn't really anything over done as far as the shots that pop. The scenes do have a few shots from angles that give the movie as suspenseful but that is about it.

Plot:  The plot is a little more like Bigger than Life than I would have expected.  They aren't the same at all, but there is this intertwining psychological theme that Ray seems to like exploring in his films, which do add this innovative spin to what you are watching. Personally, Jim Stark is just a very likable guy. He seems to find trouble a little too easily, but it's mainly because he is a teen beginning to finally realize some things about his parents that as kids we probably just don't see. He really does try to treat others right though, especially he knows how it is to be judged so easy. The romance between him and Judy feels a little under developed though considering the magnitude of other disasters going on.

Rebel Without a Cause really ranks as one of the best from the decade of the 50's. It's cool, it has interesting themes, a likable lead character, and a whole lot more emotion than many other movies I've seen from that time. It does seem like a movie that really progressed movies in a new way of story telling and perceiving the characters with more depth than stereotyped cut outs. It analyzes also dated themes from that time of how the families were, but it's still good just to think about.

Rating 9 of 10.



Rebel Without a Cause (1955) on IMDb

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