Combustible Celluloid
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With: James Dean, Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo, Jim Backus, Ann Doran, Corey Allen, William Hopper, Rochelle Hudson, Dennis Hopper, Edward Platt, Steffi Sidney, Marietta Canty, Virginia Brissac, Beverly Long, Ian Wolfe
Written by: Stewart Stern, Irving Shulman, Nicholas Ray
Directed by: Nicholas Ray
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence and thematic elements
Running Time: 111
Date: 27/10/1955

Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Tearing Me Apart

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

James Dean clicked with director Nicholas Ray in a big way on Rebel Without a Cause (1955); Dean may have received Oscar nominations for his other two major performances, but this is his signature role. You may remember that Dean wears a leather jacket in this film, like all good rebels should, but you'd be incorrect; he wears a heart-on-his-sleeve red jacket, far more tormented than cool.

Ray had a talent for finding life's most desperate emotions and expressing them visually. Hence this full-color, widescreen masterpiece gives us remarkable images like the toy gorilla and Jim Backus' apron, the hot rod race and the Planetarium at night.

Natalie Wood is the good girl who is smitten by Dean's Jimmy Stark, and Sal Mineo is the sensitive kid Plato, who latches onto the new couple like a set of surrogate parents he desperately needs.

The film received three Oscar nominations: Mineo for Best Supporting Actor, Wood for Best Supporting Actress and Ray for Best Story. In the early 1980s, it was selected as one of Joe Bob Briggs' 32 Greatest Drive-In Movies of All Time.

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