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Rebel Without a Cause

Screening on Film
Directed by Nicholas Ray.
With James Dean, Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo.
US, 1955, 35mm, color, 111 min.
Print source: HFA

Anchored by the iconic performances of James Dean, Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo, Ray’s best-known work is perhaps the richest expression of the recurrent theme that is the quintessence of Ray’s cinema – the creation of a surrogate family as a means to understanding the self. Shooting for the first time in CinemaScope, Ray exploits the widescreen format’s capability to link characters visually within the frame, creating a complex mise-en-scene in which virtually every shot vibrates with an intensity of feeling and color, most famously in Dean’s red jacket, a symbol of his emotional volatility and a visual link to Joan Crawford’s costume in 1954’s Johnny Guitar. Now inextricably tied to the cult of James Dean and the rise of youth culture in the US, Rebel, when disentangled from those associations, stands on its own as a deeply felt expression of adolescent angst.

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Nicholas Ray. Hollywood's Last Romantic

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