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‘Rebel Without a Cause’ story of a youth’s wild rage to live (1955)

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‘Rebel Without a Cause’ story of a youth’s wild rage to live

Warner Bros’ “Rebel Without a Cause,” starring James Dean, which opens Wednesday at the Warner and Merritt Theaters, tells a story of youth’s wild rage to live.

Dean plays a boy who tries to find love and affection, denied him at home, as the member of a juvenile gang. Featured romantically with Dean in “Rebel Without A Cause” is Natalie Wood, the former child star, in her first mature role.

rebel-without-a-cause-movie-posterNatalie, like Dean in “Rebel Without a Cause,” plays an unloved child of middle class parents. Jim Backus and Ann Doran are cast as Dean’s mother and father. Rochelle Hudson, returning to the screen, plays Natalie’s mother. William Hopper, who was Jan Sterling’s leading man in “The High And The Mighty,” portrays Miss Wood’s father.

Eight months research preceding the actual shooting of “Rebel Without a Cause,” contributed heavily to the documented drama, director Nicholas Ray, with screenwriter Stewart Stern, spent many weeks traveling over the country interviewing hundreds of police officers, judges, youth leaders, juvenile authorities and welfare agency heads to gather material.

Highlights of the project were several conversations with Dr Douglas M Kelley, professor of criminology at the University of California. Dr Kelley, who was chief psychiatrist at the Nurnberg trials, analyzed the psychological motivations of the characters in “Rebel Without A Cause.” Dr Kelley also visited Warner Bros. on two occasions to view scenes in the picture.

“Rebel Without A Cause’ spent two weeks shooting interior and exterior shots at Los Angeles’ Griffith!Park Planetarium. Other locations were at Warners’ Calabasas Ranch, Santa Monica High School, Hollywood Police Station (where James Mason was booked in “A Star Is Born”) and at the famous Hollywood mansion which was seen in “Sunset Boulevard.”

Warners’ wardrobe department bought 400 pairs of new Levis for extras to wear in the picture. Then the studio had to launder the trousers three or four times to give them that well-worn look.

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The picture is in CinemaScope and Warner-Color.

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