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>
Margaret O'Brien tested for the role of Judy but was rejected by Nicholas Ray after he described her answers to his probing questions as "too pat." Jayne Mansfield also tested but Ray declined to film her audition, considering her "an hallucination" from the Warners casting department. See more »
In the first scene inside the planetarium, the stars on the dome are shown to be moving, quite fast, yet the Zeiss projector (from which the stars are coming) isn't moving at all, and it should be. 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 »
This film bears watching once every 5 years or so. It is astonishing on many levels, not least of which is the exploration of the underbelly of the happy suburban post-war years in middle class America.
Yes, we all rave about the beautiful and sadly short lived life of James Dean who died before this movie opened. To die also in a manner highlit in this movie - he was co-incidentally a promo for it. Fast driving and fast cars. Poor James.
What I enjoy most though in all of it is the afore-mentioned exploration of hitherto fairly underdeveloped film themes in the America of the fifties. For one, there is the underlying homosexual element to the Sal Mineo character and his obsession with James. And here James is allowed to indulge and return this love, not overtly, but it is there, the tolerance and acknowledgment of it.
The character of Judy, played by Natalie Wood is also of tremendous interest. Here there is an incestuous component in her relationship to her father. It seems to me that the father is terrified of his attraction to his gorgeous daughter and keeps pushing her away to the degree that at one point he slaps her as she tries to kiss him. She escapes from home at every chance seeking male attention from wherever she can get it.
James' parents are a little overblown and too quickly resolved at the end. But the appearance of an "emasculated" Jim Backus (he wears an apron in case we don't quite get it!) is a sight for sore eyes. A little dated in the world of today but so far ahead of its time in 1955.
9 out 10. Satisfying on many levels.
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