Archive for teenage angst

Rebel Without a Cause (1955) Review

Posted in Movie reviews - 1950s, Movies with tags , , , , , , on April 22, 2012 by They call me "Mephy"

Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

Warner Bros'. challenging drama of today's juvenile violence!

Promotional movie poster

There are things to be said about this particular movie. It helped James Dean achieve the status of a cultural icon, but also commentary to the supposed “rebel” teenager angst and a troubled, dysfunctional relationship between them and their folks. As Bob Dylan would say, “The times they are a-changin’ “ and this was a time when the generation gap between Baby-Boomers and the Older Generation was differing in music, in fashion, as well as lifestyle.


Jim Stark (James Dean) is a rebellious teenager who had just moved from another town; this was not the first time he had moved and thus he had trouble fitting in. He is troubled by the fact his father is unable to stand up for himself and be strong for his own son over his mother’s words. Meanwhile, Judy (Natalie Wood) is frustrated by her father’s unwillingness to show affection towards his own daughter; she runs away and ends up in the police station beside Jim. Also, John (‘Plato’ to his friends) (Sal Mineo) ends up there after shooting puppies; his father abandoned the family and his mother was never around.

The next day after a planetarium field trip, Jim is taunted by Buzz Gunderson (Corey Allen), a local bully who threatens him with a switchblade. The two engage in a knife fight, before being separated by the adults. Throughout the film, the trio goes through teenager angst because the adults don’t seem to understand them and never seems to listens to their reasons, feeling neglect and betrayal.

Jim Stark… a kid from a ‘good’ family – what makes him tick… like a bomb?


The film was released (October 27, 1995) after Dean’s fatal car crash (September 30, 1955) with the ‘Little Bastard’ (1955 Porsche 550 Spyder), directed by Nicholas Ray, is one of his most well known film by him with expressionistic color usage (a trademark of his films). The film became one of James Dean’s role of Jim Stark became most associated with James Dean, the other being his role in East of Eden (1955, before Rebel Without a Cause) and Giant (1956). Teenagers at the time identified themselves with the film, pointing out how accurate the conflicts between the characters were true to life, as the rock-and-roll scene was a spreading influence for the young generation who were progressively drifting from traditional family values and lifestyle. This generation of “hippies” (blogger prefers ‘flower children’) too, would later deal with the newer generation of “yuppies”. Rebel Without a Cause is no doubt, his most celebrated film that has grown in popularity over the years. It is a good film for introducing someone to James Dean!

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