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Rebel Without a Cause

Warner Bros.
Some parts of the 1955 drama Rebel Without a Cause have always been corny, like the idea that a teen boy’s angst has something to do with his dad wearing an apron. What mattered was never the sociology but the emotion, the melodrama, the colorful use of Cinemascope, and above all, James Dean’s instantly classic image of wounded coolness in jeans and a red windbreaker. He’s matched by the vulnerability of Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo as their characters fall harmoniously in love with the moody rebel. Director Nicholas Ray knows how to stage the excitement of a “chicken run” and a knife fight, and also the poetry of looking up at the stars, whether in an observatory or a swimming pool. He takes the tragedy of beautiful youth as seriously as it wants to be taken. Texas Public Radio revisit the classic as part of its Cinema Tuesdays film series.

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