only seen this once before, and it was better than i remember it being. i think i missed a lot of the 50s subtext the first time i saw it many years ago. i’ve seen james dean’s three films where he had any real presence and have ranked them: east of eden, rebel without a cause, giant. giant is sprawling and never really caught my attention. east of eden has always been my favorite and rebel without of a cause i saw as good, but not as amazing as everyone else thought. like i said, i definitely missed some stuff.
there’s so much implied dysfunctionality here. it’s a cross between john hughes and douglas sirk and is influential to a lot of teen angst and coming of age films, especially those in the 80s. beautiful to look at and chock full of symbolism. one of my favorites is when the three teens are making like a family at the abandoned mansion (symbolic on its own) there is a rocking chair that mineo rocks with his hand. when we see a wider shot, though, it’s revealed that it’s only half of the chair. everything in that place is falling apart and a shell of what it was or should be. it’s one of those great films like sweet smell of success or sirk’s work that shows the seedy underbelly of a time that is usually portrayed as glossy and pristine. it’s easy to glorify humanity sometimes, but these works show humanity as ultimately flawed. unlike sweet smell of success, though, magnificent obsession, all that heave allows, and rebel without a cause all end with an uplifting and hopeful note. in spite of the oft-hidden frailties and weaknesses of the species, there are moments of beauty and rebirth.