Sunday, November 16, 2008

Saturday Night Movie Night

Tonight we watched Nicholas Ray's Rebel Without a Cause. I hadn't seen it for a long, long time- at least 15 years--at least since I was a disgruntled adolescent. I wondered what I would think about t now-from the perspective of motherhood and adulthood.

My gosh- it's a powerful movie. The emotions captured in the film, particularly through James Dean's performance are so intense and so raw. His body, his every movement, aches with his internal conflict. He doesn't simply sit on the couch--he contorts himself with anguish to sit on the sofa, and once there remains restless with unfulfillment. I found the search of the teenagers for family and tribe to be so akin to my own experiences.

Particularly interesting is that this movie is not made in the upheaval of the 60's...but rather a decade earlier. So many people express a sort of longing to return to the "glory years" of America- the 1950's-where everything was neat and tidy and people were more moral, etc. , but this movie poignantly depicts the anger and isolation which was just simmering in the homes of America in the wake of the Great War. Out of the 50's grow the Beats and the Abstract Expressionists. Out of the 50's explode the 60's.

It seems too, that so much of the conflict depicted in Rebel Without a Cause--is conflict which still plagues us as a nation. We remain a nation of broken, wounded people. So many homes--even "good" ones- like those of Jim Stark and Judy in the film- are full of disconnected and wounded people. Parents still waffle between being totally authoritarian (Judy's father), and trying to be their children's pals(Jim's father). Many parents through divorce or through work schedules have essentially abandoned their children leaving them to find their own way (Plato's parents).

Kudos to Nicholas Ray for another movie which depicts very complicated emotions, and a very dynamic, multi-surfaced set of characters!


  1. Looking forward to reading more film reviews from you, Shannon!

  2. LOL! Well- take them for what they're worth. Most normally movies are watched through a sleepy haze. :)

  3. I've never seen this movie- I need to check it out!

  4. I haven't seen it either, Shannon, possibly because I thought it had become a cult movie and I generally avoid those on the grounds that 50 million Frenchman (or Americans or Latvians) MUST be wrong!


  5. I don't think this is a cult movie like Repo Man or Rocky Horror Picture Show...more like Godfather or Casablanca-they're wildly popular, but also absolutely amazing. Jimmy Dean is just so amazing....How amazing would it have been to see him directed by John Cassevttes!? I think James Dean gets a bum rap as a pretty face--but I think he was just absolutely an amazing actor. It is too bad that he only lived to make 3 movies. I haven't seen Giant or East of Eden in forever either