Nicholas Ray directs James Dean, Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo in this teen drama about kids putting themselves in tragic situations out of boredom and frustration at the inevitable compromises of approaching adulthood.
The kids keep praising “sincerity” but that’s hard to do when one henpecked Dad wanders around in a floral pinny, another can’t show his daughter affection for fear it’ll translate as sexual desire and yet another has long gone. Best just drink, knife fight and race cars off cliffs into oblivion. Glorious technicolor oblivion. Amplifying the primary red, blue and greens of the teenagers fashions the whole thing looks like a fantasy. Obviously this is short lived Dean’s most iconic role – the rebel, the sensitive tough. He is fantastic… but everyone here is. Delivering dialogue that reaches for truth and connection but is full of anger and compromises. Smart melodrama, cool vision. A timeless classic.