Rebel Without a Cause (1955, Nicholas Ray)

Katy not too impressed with Natalie Wood for some reason. I’m always happy to watch Sal Mineo splash about and Dean defy his tough-guy reputation with this oddball super-sensitive role. Was telling Katy I think history has gotten Dean’s rebel confused with Brando’s wild one. But watching this so soon after the death of Dennis Hopper, I couldn’t look away from him when he was on screen. Not that he’s completely electrifying in the part of “goon,” it’s just the fascination of seeing a teenage Hopper taking it all in.

I still don’t get Nick Ray, but this has always been a helluva interesting movie. Senses of Cinema on the director:

Among [Ray’s guiding concerns] are the relations between individuals and cruel, unforgiving environments or authority – in particular, the marginal status of adolescents; the nature of masculinity; and violence as a defining attribute of social relations. To express and reinforce this thematic coherence, and corresponding to the emotional turbulence of characters and actions on the screen, his films also display a visual flair and recognisable style marked by restless camera movement and quick editing generally uncharacteristic of the widescreen formats favoured by the director.

The Times review says the kids hide out in the same mansion used as Norma Desmond’s home in Sunset Blvd. – must look for that next time. Dean, forever a 24-year-old teenager, died a month before the movie’s release, having already shot his role in Giant.

JD Slocum:

In the 50 years since it first appeared, the film has continued to serve as a touchstone for imagining anxieties over coming-of-age rituals, traditional values of family and community, the provocations of mass or consumer society, and even threats from abroad. The specific sources of individual and social insecurity have changed, the specific motivations for rebellion have shifted, and the role of cinema and its heroes in the United States and other societies have been forever altered. What has persisted is Rebel Without a Cause’s power to represent individual rebellion and the possibilities of social reconciliation, an affirmation of the cinema’s capacity to illuminate such realities and, through bold performance and bravura filmmaking, to serve as a bellwether of cultural change.

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