Brick, an alcoholic ex-football player, drinks his days away and resists the affections of his wife, Maggie. His reunion with his father, Big Daddy, who is dying of cancer, jogs a host of memories and revelations for both father and son.
Jim Stark is the new kid in town. He has been in trouble elsewhere; that's why his family has had to move before. Here he hopes to find the love he doesn't get from his middle-class family. Though he finds some of this in his relation with Judy, and a form of it in both Plato's adulation and Ray's real concern for him, Jim must still prove himself to his peers in switchblade knife fights and "chickie" games in which cars race toward a seaside cliff.Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
When Jim takes the ammunition clip out of Plato's pistol, he fails to remove the round that would have already been housed in the chamber. See more »
First police officer:
Get up, get up. Mixed up in that beating on 12th street, huh?
Second police officer:
No. Plain drunkenness.
See more »
To receive a UK cinema certificate the film was extensively cut by the BBFC. The entire knife fight scene between Jim & Buzz was removed, and heavy edits were made to the chicken race scene, shots of Jim attempting to throttle his father, and the fight between Jim and probation officer Fremick. Although the distributors initially wanted an 'A' certificate they were told that further cuts would have to be made, so the above print was released as an 'X'. All later UK releases were fully uncut and since 1986 the film has been PG rated. See more »
Like any film that strives to be current, "Rebel Without a Cause" has inevitably become dated since its release over fifty years ago. Therefore, you have to make allowances for this and take it in the context of its time. Those willing to do so will recognize the film as a substantial offering, especially for a film about young people.
Certain aspects of the plot may be dated but the emotions are timeless. Each of the teens is looking for something different from their parents. Jim is hounded by the question of what it takes to be a man but gets no help from his hen-pecked father. Judy justifiably feels unloved due to her father's suddenly frigid demeanor. Plato, meanwhile, doesn't even have his parents around at all, therefore he feels lonely and abandoned. These problems (and a multitude of others) haven't vanished in the time since this film was released.
The direction by Nicholas Ray brings this story to life and shows some interesting touches along the way. The opening credits with Jim drunkenly messing around with a toy monkey is just one memorable scene. The 'chickie run' scene is perhaps the film's most memorable set-piece.
The movie also benefits from a legendary performance from James Dean, who didn't even live long enough to see the film hit theatres. His performance here is angst-ridden and filled with nuance. Perhaps his best scene is the one in which he confronts his parents when he returns from the chicken run. Puzzlingly, though, he never got an Oscar nomination while both Mineo & Wood did. Mineo was certainly deserving but to me Wood's performance was nothing particularly special. Also notable was Jim Backus who turned in a fine performance as Jim's father.
The film contains a wealth of deeper meaning and, depending on who you ask, possibly some taboo-defying sexual undertones. After seeing the film a few times I'm no longer so sure about the supposed homosexual subtext of Jim & Plato's friendship; that may be more of a by-product of their respective issues stemming from missing or ineffective father figures. Judy's relationship to her father is also not without sexual undertones but, again, this may be a by-product of the issue at hand; that is, her father's lack of overt affection as she blossoms into maturity. Regardless of whether or not any of this was the intent of the film-makers they were nevertheless daring to present such provocative material while the production code was still in effect.
All in all, a fine film that is deservedly lauded as a classic decades later. Check it out but be sure to put yourself in a fifties state of mind.
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