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Rebel without a cause

Threat advisory: High - High risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

Teenage terror torn from today's headlines.

Jim Stark (James Dean) 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 (Natalie Wood), and a form of it in both Plato's (Sal Mineo) adulation and Ray's (Edward Platt) real concern for him, Jim must still prove himself to his peers in switchblade knife fights and chicken games in which cars race toward a seaside cliff.

Theatrical propaganda posters

Rebel without a cause image

Target demographic movie keyword propaganda

  • Film teen drama

Persons of interest

  • James Dean .... Jim Stark
  • Natalie Wood .... Judy
  • Sal Mineo .... John "Plato" Crawford
  • Jim Backus .... Frank Stark
  • Ann Doran .... Mrs Carol Stark
  • Corey Allen .... Buzz Gunderson
  • William Hopper .... Judy's Father
  • Rochelle Hudson .... Judy's Mother
  • Dennis Hopper .... Goon
  • Edward Platt .... Ray Fremick
  • Steffi Sidney .... Mil
  • Virginia Brissac .... Mrs Stark
  • Beverly Long .... Helen
  • Ian Wolfe .... Dr Minton
  • Frank Mazzola .... Crunch
  • Robert Foulk .... Gene
  • Jack Simmons .... Cookie
  • Stewart Stern .... Screenwriter
  • Nicholas Ray .... Storywriter
  • Nicholas Ray .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

James Dean.

Once you get over the earnestness of the acting, a feature of performance in the USA at that time (in the same way that callous indifference is in the noughties), you'll find a tight story being told by an actor wound tight as a spring. James shines bright, giving the other actors the impetus to up their own wattage. The bitter family scene between him, Jim and Ann on the stairway burns the house down around them; the love scene with Natalie in the abandoned mansion is bathed in pearly light.

I must be pre-menstrual.

Watching Rebel without a cause is a little like watching Shakespeare: it takes you a while to get into the right frame of mind so that you can flow with the film rather than having to stop and work out what every detail means. Once you do make the switch you find yourself watching Grease without the singing, dancing or two-dimensionality. Teenagers operate according to rules no groan-up can perceive let alone appreciate. They are denigrated for being anything other than an impossibly fairy book prince or princess. They are also being attacked by their own body as puberty rips away the innocence of childhood but leaves nothing in its place.

The juvenile delinquents are just teenagers being messed up by their parents (who were messed up by their parents), trying to find their way in a society where none is willing to give them a map. There's no difference in the way the world works at the end of the millennium: young people still learn more from each other than from their parents, they still get pushed off the rails and they still have none with the power to help them.

Rebel without a cause is rightly a classic film. In its time it was an outrageous exposé of the failure of traditional family values, today it's a tragic reminder of how little the world has advanced in the ensuing half century.

Media intelligence (DVD)

  • Behind the cameras docos
  • Behind-the-scenes documentary: Rediscovering a rebel
  • Sound remastered in Dolby Surround 5.1
  • Languages in Dolby Surround 5.1: English
  • Languages in Dolby mono 1.0: French, Italian
  • Subtitles in Arabic, Bulgarian, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian & Spanish, English and Italian captions
  • Trailer
  • Widescreen 2.55:1

Security censorship classification

M (Low level violence)

Surveillance time

107 minutes (1:47 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

DVD retail: 5 June 2000

Cinema surveillance images

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