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August 22, 2014

24 Rare and Fascinating Behind the Scenes Photos From the Making of "Rebel Without a Cause" in 1955

Rebel Without A Cause (1955) is a film that sympathetically views rebellious, American, restless, misunderstood, middle-class youth. The tale of youthful defiance, which could have been exploitative - but wasn’t, provides a rich, but stylized look at the world of the conformist mid-1950s from the perspective of the main adolescent male character - a troubled teen with ineffectual parents, who faces a new school environment.

The screenplay (by Stewart Stern from an adaptation by Irving Shulman of an original storyline synopsis by director Nicholas Ray) was based on an actual case study of a delinquent, imprisoned teenage psychopath in the post-war years. The film was originally titled The Blind Run - the same as the title of the series of vignettes, both violent and strangely erotic, that Ray had penned. The actual film’s title, Rebel Without a Cause, was the same as the title of Lindner’s psychological study - signifying the rebellious and idealistic protagonist's search for a ‘cause’ - honesty and decency in a hypocritical world.

The colorful wide-screen Cinemascope feature is most remembered for being the film that best presented the talent of young charismatic cult star James Dean, shortly before his premature death in 1955. It opened at the Astor Theatre in New York on October 29th, 1955, about a month after the death of its star (on September 30, 1955) on a highway in his sports car.

It also served as a springboard for the acting careers of its two other stars Natalie Wood (in her first non-child ‘adult’ role) and unknown 16 year-old actor Sal Mineo. It affords a classic, semi-glamorized portrait of three troubled, frustrated, anguished, and identity-seeking teenagers - all outsiders, alienated and outcast from the world and values of parents and adults, who attain maturity through rebellion and tragic circumstances. In the film, Dean formed a friendly bond with the other two characters: Wood as confused teenaged Judy, and Mineo as a strange, adoring boy named Plato - the film’s sacrificial lamb by film’s end.

The reactionary film is considered Hollywood's best 50’s film of rebellious and restless youth (and sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll) that spawned many other lesser teen exploitation films in its wake. It has been surmised that Sal Mineo’s teen-aged character in the film was obviously gay and troubled by typical problems of in-the-closet homosexuals in the 1950s - the film disguises his problems, but hints at the possibility that he is seeking out Dean’s character because he rejects fake machismo.

Lights, camera and action on a night-time shoot for Rebel without a Cause (1955), with James Dean taking his place behind the wheel as outsider teen Jim Stark.

Stars Natalie Wood and James Dean, in that unforgettable red jacket, hear from director Nicholas Ray in a quiet moment between filming.

James Dean and Corey Allen (as troublemaker Buzz Gunderson) film the thrilling knife-fight scene on the terrace of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.

The two tragic stars of Rebel without a Cause – Dean and Natalie Wood – share a moment between takes.

A script read-through with (left to right) director Nicholas Ray and stars Sal Mineo, Natalie Wood and James Dean.

Between takes, Dean slouches in his chair with his on-screen parents Jim Backus and Ann Doran (who play Mr and Mrs Stark) and a cast of cops at Griffith Observatory.

Breakfast with a view over Los Angeles, with actors James Dean and Jim Backus.

Milking the moment: director Nicholas Ray checks his viewfinder before filming a turbulent moment between James Dean and Natalie Wood.

An on-location cigarette and a chat between Nicholas Ray and James Dean.

James Dean in 1955’s Rebel Without a Cause.

ames Dean and Natalie Wood on the set of Rebel without a Cause.

Salty Hollywood icons Dennis Hopper and Nick Ray.

James Dean and Sal Mineo in Rebel without a Cause.

James Dean signing autographs on the set of Rebel Without a Cause

Natalie Wood and James Dean during the film of Rebel without a Cause.

James Dean and director Nicholas Ray during the film.

James Dean and friend Perry Lopez on the set of Rebel without a Cause.

James Dean, Nick Adams and Natalie Wood going over their scripts for Rebel without A Cause.

Nicholas Ray chooses the best angle to photograph James Dean in a scene from Rebel without a Cause.

Dennis Hopper on the set of Rebel without a Cause.

James Dean wore his t-shirt without anything covering it in Rebel without a Cause.



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