Character actor Michael Shannon has been nominated for his second Oscar for his role in the 2016 thriller Nocturnal Animals. "No Small Parts" takes a look at some of the other characters he's played in the past.
"The Cool and the Crazy" (1958) is a juvenile delinquent (JD) movie. Like its brethren, it's a b-movie. These minor movies are really not that good, but they still entertain through nostalgia for the 50s (music, youth, lingo, cars, culture, youth, family relationships) and sometimes performances. They're minor in that they don't pretend to be up there with "The Man with the Golden Arm" (1955) or "Rebel Without a Cause" (1955). They're much less classy and complete.
This one has a fairly strong drug theme to it in which "M" or marijuana is treated as a gateway to the needle and as something habit-forming on its own with withdrawal symptoms. The story has a strong sub-plot in which decent kid (Richard Bakalyan) falls in with straight arrow Gigi Perreau, avoiding drugs but seeing his pals involved.
The movie has an outstanding performance from Scott Marlowe. His part is written with amazing lines that go off the deep end into a mixture of moods and philosophies that's almost indescribable. You almost do not know what to make of his character, as his moods and behavior shift. And then on top of that written and scripted part, Marlowe takes it into another land, beyond James Dean. He's an aspiring drug pusher who is rebellious in class but in one scene shows his intelligent understanding of the subjunctive mood. He can be confident and then switch into being heavily gratified by being liked. He can be manipulative of the pals he's cultivating as potential addicts. He can turn violent, wielding a knife as if he's responding to the bullying of his father. One can easily imagine Dean stumbling and bumbling and meandering through this character too. But I wouldn't say that Marlowe is pure imitation. He's assimilated Dean and moved beyond, reaching into himself with his own creativity.
Dickie Jones also provides an interesting portrayal that's really exaggerated of a teenager who has smoked his first reefer. You have to see him banging his head on a table, dancing with a sign, and talking to a guy who's dead drunk on the sidewalk. Way over the top.
The film strays into noir territory a bit, especially in some on location shots as the cops get involved looking for the pusher who's the main supplier.
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