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Rebel Without a Cause

In the culture of the 1950's James Dean was an icon.  In his movies he provided a character that every teenager either wanted to be like or wanted to date.  The pre-mature death of James Dean as well as the way he died made his movies even more powerful.  He was a man who lived a mysterious life and by living the way he did; it made his movies even more powerful.  In "Rebel Without A Cause," Dean portrays a teenager who is struggling to fit in.   The power of the movie was increased upon release, due to the fact that James Dean died under a month before it premiered in New York. 

Rebel Without a Cause

"Rebel Without a Cause" is about Jim (James Dean), who has just moved to a new town.  Jim is portrayed as a tough but sensitive teen who is confused about life.  He is raised in a family with a father, who is completely reigned over by his wife, and an overbearing mother.  The movie takes place in Los Angeles, where Jim's parents are forced to move because Dean's character has caused trouble in every other town that they have lived in.   Dean doesn't necessarily start off on the right foot in his new town; he gets arrested for being drunk and disorderly the first night he is there.  The night did not turn out to be all that bad for Jim, while at the police station he has a chance to see Judy (Natalie Wood).  Judy is not quite the rebel that Dean is; she was merely picked up for walking the streets after curfew.  While at the station Jim makes one more important connection that will last through the movie with Plato (Sal Mineo).  Plato, like Jim is seen as misunderstood in the movie but for different reasons, was arrested for killing a litter of puppies. In the movie, Plato is portrayed as being almost infatuated with Jim.

After the fun night that Jim has, he still must go through the first day of school the following morning.  Young Jim does not start the morning off extremely well, Wood turns him down after asking her for a date.  At this point in the movie, the viewer is exposed to Buzz, Judy's boyfriend.  Buzz is the big man on campus at Jim's new high school; he drives the nice car and has his gang of buddies to back up his toughness.  After battling with each other for a good part of the movie, Jim and Buzz decide on a car race.  A race that places two cars side by side and the man who bales out first, before going over a cliff is the chicken.  There was a problem with the race; Buzz did not make it out of his car.  Thus, throwing the movie into a dramatic spin.  After the fatal car crash everyone just basically leaves the scene and goes their separate way.

 

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