On October 26th, 1955, ‘Rebel Without a Cause,’ was released in theaters. The film was directed by Nicholas Ray and starred Hollywood icons James Dean and Natalie Wood.
It is considered by many to be one of the most influential performances in movie history by James Dean. He plays the role of the new kid in town whose attitude echoes the sentiment of postwar teens in America.
Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo received Academy Award nominations, and writer and director Nicholas Ray was Oscar-nominated for Best Writing. The film made the list as one of the all-time Top American Films by the American Film Institute.
‘Rebel Without a Cause’ was a portrayal of the moral decay of American youth that explored the differences in generations. The film became James Dean’s most celebrated role.
It was released a month after Dean’s car accident that took his young life. James received top billing for his role as ‘Jim Stark.’ The part called for James to play a troubled but sensitive teenager who wants purpose but rejects his elders’ values. After moving into the new town, he battles gang members and relates with other troubled teens, played by Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo.
The film was shot using black and white film stock since Warner Bros. considered it a B-movie project. But when Jack L. Warner saw James Dean’s star potential, they reshot the scenes in color.
It was also one of the first films shot in the technologically advanced widescreen CinemaScope format. An instant American classic, ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ and James Dean were culturally relevant reflections of teens in the late 1950s.