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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Rebel with a pout

When you watch James Dean now — cigarette stuck on the lower lip that is nearly as red as his pretty co-star’s,cowl and scowl firmly in place...

Written by Shubhra Gupta | Published: November 21, 2009 1:00:08 am

Rebel Without A Cause

(Two-Disc Special Edition)

Big Home Videos

Rs 599

When you watch James Dean now — cigarette stuck on the lower lip that is nearly as red as his pretty co-star’s,cowl and scowl firmly in place — it strikes you he was more angst-ridden than rebellious. His most famous film Rebel Without A Cause — which set a gazillion young hearts aflutter back when it released (1955) — continues to inspire teen rebels on screen,decades and worlds apart. Remember the young John Travolta in Grease and the slightly older Aamir Khan in Ghulam?

One of the most remembered sequences in Rebel Without A Cause features Dean in the “chicken-run”: two hot-rodders behind two swanky wheels racing to the edge of a cliff,the first to jump out would be then and forever chicken,the most dreaded thing a teen male could get dubbed. As the two hurtle towards the edge,one going over in a terrifying accident,the other continuing to live,your heart is in your mouth. Aamir Khan’s defiant leap in front of a moving train in Ghulam,in response to a dare from a rival,is both a straight lift and tribute.

The rebel,Dean’s Jim Stark,longs for approval from his father,who,in a stroke much ahead of the time,wears aprons and serves his nagging wife hand and foot. Jim wants his father to be all man; at the end of the tragic events in which another boy dies,he learns to be one himself.

In East of Eden too,Elia Kazan’s grand screen rendering of John Steinbeck’s novel,Dean’s Cal Trask vividly comes of age. He is an alienated,misunderstood young man,whose dearest wish is for his distant father to recognise that he too exists,and not just his elder brother. Dean was charismatic in a way that reminds you of his idol Marlon Brando,who was Kazan’s first choice for Cal’s role. But he was also beautiful,and that beauty was preserved in the forever-young actor who died in a head-on collision soon after these two films released. His last movie,Giant,came out posthumously.

The twin-disc Rebel Without A Cause has a 50th anniversary documentary too,full of interesting anecdotes and comments. James Dean lives.

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