In college, I took a course in the history of rock and roll. While studying the music and musical influence of Elvis Presley, the professor brought up an interesting theory that was Elvis passed away at the right time to be well-remembered and regarded. We never got to see Elvis get too far past his prime and a shadow of his former self, relegated to the back pages of the tabloids.
This same theory applies to actor James Dean, who only made three films during his short career in Hollywood. Each of those three films is fairly well-regarded by scholars and critics, though it can be argued this his most iconic film was his last, Rebel Without A Cause.
I first saw it years ago on VHS and while it started an entirely new subgenre of film, I’m not necessarily sure this is a film that holds up all that well or is really as good as its iconic status would have you believe. Watching it again this time, I was fascinated by the performance of Dean as Jim Stark and seeing actor Jim Backus in a role other Mr. Howell from Gilligan’s Island. But I couldn’t help but think the film seemed awfully melodramatic in parts and like it was trying too hard. Continue reading