Movie Review of "Rebel Without a Cause"

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1955 dramatic movie starring James Dean and Natalie Wood.

Synopsis: A troubled teenager moves to a new town with his parents and, on his first day at his new school, is tormented by a gang of thugs, forcing him to defend his honor in a game of chicken that ultimately ends in a fatality.
The movie stars James Dean, Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo, Jim Backus and Ann Doran.

What I Liked About This Movie

James Dean (photo courtesy of Pixabay)I ended up picking this film for our family movie night because it was something a little different from what we normally watch and I figured my oldest daughter would enjoy it. This was the first time I've seen this movie in a while and, after watching it again, I found it was as enjoyable as I remember it.

I think the thing I liked about this movie is the way it was so easy to share in Jim's (Dean) frustration. His mom was always forcing them to move, making him the chronic new kid at school. His dad wouldn't stand up to his mom despite the fact she needed someone to do that and, when he wanted to do the right thing, such as telling the cops what caused the fatal accident, everyone from his classmates to his parents are against it. 

The most intriguing character in this, however, had to be Plato (Mineo). When he was first introduced, it was obvious he was a troubled kid and potentially a future serial killer. And, while I wasn't sure what to think of him at first, as we learned more about him and how his parents pretty much abandoned him, he became a much more sympathetic character than I thought he would.

The movie also had quite a bit more suspense in it than I thought it would, especially when Plato started using his gun and then sought refuge in the planetarium. I wasn't sure how that situation was going to end. But, I figure it wasn't going to be a happy ending.

What I Didn't Like About This Movie

Natalie Wood (photo courtesy of Pixabay)Overall, I thought Natalie Wood did a great job as Dean's love interest Judy. It was a complex role because she had to be sexy while, at the same time, be as troubled as the other kids in the movie, especially when it came to her own daddy issues (what kind of father doesn't want his daughter to tell him she loves him?).

My biggest complaint about this film is how quickly she moves on from her now-deceased boyfriend (Corey Allen) to become romantically involved with Dean. From what I can tell, she loved her boyfriend. And, while I could probably see her moving on relatively quickly after a few days of grief, having her practically forget him just hours after he died did seem to be a bit on the cold side.

Rebel Without a Cause (Two-Disc Special Edition)

In one of the most influential performances in movie history, James Dean plays the new kid in town whose loneliness, frustration and anger mirrored those of postwar teens - and ...

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Final Opinion

There does seem to be a lack of emotion toward the boy that gets killed early on in the film. However, despite that, I do think this is a great movie and, after watching it, it's easy to understand why it is considered a classic. If you haven't seen this movie, I would recommend taking the time to watch it.

My Grade: A

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Updated: 04/12/2016, StevenHelmer
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