Rebel Without A Cause

Listen to Rebel Without a Cause on The Next Reel Film Podcast

"You’re tearing me apart!"

Possibly James Dean’s most iconic role, Rebel Without a Cause hit theaters in the fall of 1955 – less than a month after Dean’s tragic car crash that took his life – and immediately found its audience. The movie was a success, thanks in a large part to all of the teens that connected with the characters and the story, seeing more of themselves on-screen than they had before. Dean’s death made the film something to talk about, but the fact that the film had something to say too has made it a classic. Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we continue our James Dean series with Nicholas Ray’s 1955 film Rebel Without a Cause

We talk about how the film struck us and why, looking at how Ray sets his characters up in the opening sequence and allows them to develop their problems over the course of the film. We chat about the tragic trio of young actors helming this film – Dean, Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo – reflecting not just on the tragedy their characters work through in this film but also the horrible deaths they all suffered at young ages. We look at Ray as a director and how his passion for CinemaScope led to some brilliant images here, not to mention a huge following with European cinéastes who tagged him as one of the great auteurs. We continue our discussion about the CinemaScope images as we look at what cinematographer Ernest Haller brings to the table. And we look at how iconic this film has become and how it’s influenced the arts since its creation. 

It’s a fascinating film that we thoroughly enjoy and have a great time talking about. Yes, some of the story and performances may be a bit laughable by today’s standards, but when taken in context of the time and what Ray was trying to say, it’s all in context and works to make Ray’s point. So give it a try, then tune in! The Next Reel – when the movie ends, our conversation begins.

Film Sundries

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Pete Wright