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Rebel Without a Cause: Special Edition

The James Dean Collection

  • East of Eden: Special Edition
  • Rebel Without a Cause: Special Edition
  • Giant: Special Edition
  • James Dean died in a horrific car accident only one month before Rebel Without a Cause was released in 1955, and while his other starring roles in East of Eden and Giant may be as good as his work here, it is this film for which the iconic actor will always be remembered. Dean stars as disaffected teen Jim Stark, who is quick to temper and has trouble relating to others — traits that have caused his parents to move from town to town, leaving Jim's history of juvenile delinquency in their wake. Starting a new school year, Jim wants to create a fresh start, but his arrogant manner immediately catches the attention of a thrill-seeking gang who try to bully him before challenging him to a game of "chicken" with stolen cars. It is a challenge that Jim cannot ignore, despite its inevitably disastrous results. While a provocative film for the times (the first to really examine youthful alienation in an upper-middle-class setting), Rebel Without a Cause skims along on a threadbare plot — in fact, you could probably write the whole story on the back of a matchbook. But Nicolas Ray's direction keeps the many conflicts front-and-center, and Dean completely outclasses his co-stars with his "method" style, fully investing himself in his character while those who surround him seem to be only reading their lines in a dramatic way. It's not hard to see why Dean became such a legend on the basis of only three films — much of his turbulent performance here is similar to that of the young Marlon Brando, another actor who was hanging around the Warner lot at the same time. Also starring Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo, Jim Backus, Ann Doran, Corey Allen, and a young Dennis Hopper. Warner's two-disc DVD release of Rebel Without a Cause updates their original single-disc edition, offering a solid anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. New on Disc One is a commentary from Dean biographer Douglas L. Rathgeb. A theatrical trailer also is included, while Disc Two offers the vintage documentary ""James Dean Remembered" (66 min.), the new featurette "Rebel Without a Cause: Defiant Innocents" (36 min.), 15 deleted scenes and an alternate ending (unfortunately, the sound has been lost on these materials), screen tests (6 min.), and wardrobe tests (5 min.). Also returning from the original release are three "Behind the Cameras" TV spots featuring interview footage with Wood, Backus (a well-known comedian at the time, he demonstrates his Thurston Howell III voice ten years before he was a TV castaway), and Dean, in the famous, spooky interview made just months before his death where he encourages kids not to speed because "The life you save may be mine." Dual-DVD slimline keep-case.
    —JJB



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