D: Nicholas Ray; with James Dean, Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo, Jim Backus, Ann Doran, Dennis Hopper, Edward Platt, Nick Adams. (PG, 111 min.)
James Dean died at 5:45pm, September 30, 1955, when his Porsche Spyder 550 collided with another car at the intersection of routes 466 and 41 outside the tiny California hamlet of Cholame. When Rebel opened in New York City 13 months later, crowds of heartsick teens thronged theatres in an outpouring of fan emotion not witnessed since the death of Rudolph Valentino 30 years before. Today, nearly a half-century later, Dean's legacy -- three movies and a smattering of minor television appearances -- remains as vital as ever. Rebel isn't the actor's best film -- that honor goes to Elia Kazan's East of Eden -- and it's full of melodramatic hokiness, but Dean, as disaffected teen Jim Stark, still manages a walloping emotional sucker punch. Buoyed by top-notch supporting roles from Wood and Mineo, it's an iconic film filled with stunning performances from all three doomed leads, a near-perfect summer summary of fast cars, faster kids, and perfect death. (6/16-17)
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