Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
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- 111 min.
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Daddy issues and teenage angst.
The first movie totally made for teenagers. Cool!
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.
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In 16 official lists
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This movie ranks #37 in Taschen's 100 All-Time Favorite Movies
This movie ranks #44 in Library of Congress's National Film Registry
This movie ranks #64 in Jennifer Eiss's 500 Essential Cult Movies
This movie ranks #113 in Emma Beare's 501 Must-See Movies
This movie ranks #208 in Mark Cousins's The Story of Film: An Odyssey
This movie ranks #274 in Roger Ebert's Great Movies
This movie ranks #288 in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
This movie ranks #393 in Jonathan Rosenbaum's Essential Cinema
This movie ranks #477 in Empire's The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time
This movie ranks #510 in David Thomson's Have You Seen?
This movie ranks #555 in Cahiers du Cinéma's Annual Top 10 Lists
This movie ranks #578 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films
This movie ranks #705 in The New York Times's Book of Movies
This movie ranks #737 in The Guardian's 1000 Films to See Before You Die
This movie ranks #761 in Time Out's 1000 Films to Change Your Life
This movie ranks #956 in Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown