Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
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- 111 min.
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Daddy issues and teenage angst.
Rebel Without a Cause paints a picture of 1950s youth as a listless generation freed from the responsibilities of their parents', i.e. the economic strife of the 30s or the war of the 40s, and for whom privilege is its own curse. Throughout the film, the kids mock the police, family hierarchy, military service, anything that might have power over them in another life. Parental figures are ineffective, busy at creating the 1950s American utopia of propriety and wealth, and leaving their kids to their own devices. There's no reason to sacrifice, to share responsibility, and so the teenagers get into trouble for its own sake, just as something to do, or to get attention. The kid most left alone sees any charismatic (and here that's James Dean's character, James Dean whose death later that year would find mirrors in the film) as a father figure (I don't think the attraction Plato bears Jimmy is meant to be gay), and he's the one who pays the biggest price. So yeah, I get it, but I'll admit I had a lot of difficulty empathizing with privileged white kids griping about their lives and how their parents just didn't understand them.
This and 'On the Waterfront' take me on a whole different level
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In 16 official lists
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This movie ranks #37 in Taschen 100 All-time favorite movies
This movie ranks #44 in National Film Registry
This movie ranks #64 in 500 Essential Cult Movies
This movie ranks #113 in 501 Must See Movies
This movie ranks #208 in The Story of Film: An Odyssey
This movie ranks #274 in Roger Ebert: the great movies
This movie ranks #284 in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
This movie ranks #393 in Jonathan Rosenbaum's Essential Films
This movie ranks #477 in Empire 500
This movie ranks #506 in Have You Seen? A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films
This movie ranks #524 in Cahiers du cinéma - Yearly top 10s
This movie ranks #534 in They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?
This movie ranks #712 in The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made
This movie ranks #741 in The Guardian's 1000 Films to See Before You Die
This movie ranks #761 in TimeOut's 1000 Films to Change Your Life
This movie ranks #956 in Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown