Rebel Without a Cause is a 1955 American drama film directed by Nicholas Ray. It stars James Dean, Sal Mineo, Natalie Wood and Dennis Hopper. The story is is about suburban middle class rebellious teenagers.
This film was groundbreaking in its attempt to portray the social decline of American youth, analyze parenting styles and explore the troubles and differences of generations.
This film is definitely one of, if not the best teen drama films of all time. It portrays rebellious teens and strict parents in the 1950s outstandingly. It shows how life was in for these kind of people back then. The kids wanted to do things their way, as did the adults and they clashed. The kids felt they were misunderstood by grownups, who just wanted to them to straighten up and follow the rules, do as their told to. The teens did as they pleased, which got them into trouble. Jim Stark (Dean) was a newcomer and just minding his own business, when Buzz (Corey Allen), Goon (Dennis Hopper) and their gang came along and started picking on him, first with insults, then slashing his tires, then beating him up. Jim befriends John “Plato” Crawford (Mineo), first meeting on a field trip to the planetarium, then standing up for him after the gang starts bullying him.
Jim falls for Judy (Wood), the moment he sees her, but she is part of Buzz’s gang. Eventually, she turns her back on them and starts falling for Jim herself. The two of them, along with Plato, try to hide from the gang, but are eventually found, so Jim and Plato try to fight them, but this gets them all arrested. Jim says to the police that the gang was after them and were going to hurt them, so he was defending them, so he set free, along with Plato.
This film is filled with car chases, bullying, violence, disobedience and vandalism. Most of it takes place outside at night. The acting is superb from all the main stars. This is an iconic film for Dean, because it’s the film that comes to mind when most people think of him with his equally iconic outfit, red jacket, white t-shirt and jeans, an ensemble that has been recreated since the film’s release and will be recreated for decades to come.
Not many teen dramas come close to the greatness of this one. So much of the time you get the same typical story where the good looking popular character falls for the outcast in the end. This one is unique in every way, that no remake would be nearly as good, nor should there ever be one, that is how special it is.
This isn’t a humorous film at all, it is an action packed teen drama with a little romance. The story is simple, but the entire production is outstanding. It takes place in a day or so and the movie is two hours long, but feels like two days. Never once is it boring, it is intense to the very end. This is one that will never cease to amaze you with how a simple plot can make for a masterpiece. 13+ 5/5