Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Rebel Without a Cause

1955 - Dir:Nicholas Ray
Shown at The FeckenOdeon on 29th October, 2005
“Rebel Without a Cause” was released in 1955 (a year after “Animal Farm”) and shook up one of America's most bountiful times with a sultry, restless story of youth going to hell in a handbasket. Where “Animal Farm” was rigidly “on Message” this film kicks the message out with the bathwater and soils the nest at the same time. “Rebel Without a Cause'' boldly went where almost no Hollywood film had gone before. It needled family values in the mid-1950s, when America had healed itself after war, and the proud, rich, muscular nation had honeymooned and borne an unprecedented number of children to fill up burgeoning tracts of homes. The movie came along like a slap, saying something was dangerously wrong. Tragedy was inevitable. These were rich white kids, stalked by trouble, by violence, by a sense of being trapped in a universe that could blow up at any time. The studio wanted to cast Tab Hunter and Jayne Mansfield but Nicholas Ray stuck to his guns and introduced James Dean and Natalie Wood. His tenacity bore fruit - Dean was so cool in the film that guys ached to be him and spent hours training their hair into messy pompadours - and Wood’s realistic performance is breathtaking.
The film started shooting in black and white. When studio executives saw the first rushes they realised that this was going to be a bigger picture than they anticipated and ordered that the project be restarted in colour and in the giant CinemaScope format. It has been said that this is the greatest black and white movie to be made in colour.

The restored print shown at The FeckenOdeon was made to celebrate the films 50th anniversary - and the 50th anniversary of the death of its star. Dean starred in only three films. This is the second. He never saw this film or “Giant” which he was working on at the time of his death at the age of 24.

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