Rebel Without a Cause

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Rebel Without a Cause is a 1955 American drama film about disturbed suburban, middle-class teenagers. Directed by Nicholas Ray, it offered both social commentary and an alternative to previous films depicting delinquents in urban slum environments.[1][2] Over the years, the film has achieved landmark status for showcasing cult figure James Dean (who died before the film's release) in his definitive role. In 1990, Rebel Without a Cause was added to the preserved films of the United States Library of Congress's National Film Registry as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

The story of a rebellious teenager, who arrives at a new high school, meets a girl, disobeys his parents and defies the local school bullies was a groundbreaking attempt to portray the moral decay of American youth, critique parental style, and explore the differences and conflicts between generations. The title was adopted from psychiatrist Robert M. Lindner's 1944 book, Rebel Without a Cause: The Hypnoanalysis of a Criminal Psychopath. The film itself, however, does not reference Lindner's book in any way.

Warner Bros. released the film on October 27, 1955, almost one month after Dean's fatal car crash.



Shortly after moving to Los Angeles with his parents, 17-year-old Jim Stark (Dean) enrolls at Dawson High School. Jim is brought into police station for public drunkenness. When his mother, father and grandmother arrive at the police station to retrieve him, conflicts in Jim's family situation are introduced. His parents are often fighting. His father (Jim Backus) often tries to defend Jim, but Jim's mother always wins the arguments. Jim feels betrayed both by this fighting and his father's lack of moral strength, causing feelings of unrest and displacement. This shows up later in the film when he repeatedly asks his father, "What do you do when you have to be a man?"

While trying to conform with fellow students at the school, he becomes involved in a dispute with a local bully named Buzz Gunderson. While he tries to deal with Buzz (Corey Allen), he becomes friends with a 15-year-old boy, John, nicknamed Plato (Sal Mineo), who was also at the police station the night of the opening scene for shooting puppies. Plato idolizes Jim, his real father having abandoned his family. Plato experiences many of the same problems as Jim, such as searching for meaning in life and dealing with parents who "don't understand." Jim meets Judy (Natalie Wood), whom he also recognizes from the police station, where she was brought in for being out alone after dark, who originally acts unimpressed by Jim, saying in a sarcastic tone, "I'll bet you're a real yo-yo." She is apparently the property of Buzz.

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