Rebel Without a Cause: Special Edition (1955)

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Released 6-Sep-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Douglas L. Rathgeb (Biographer)
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-Documentary - James Dean Remembered
Featurette-Documentary - Rebel Without A Cause: Defiant Innocents
Featurette-Screen Tests
Featurette-Wardrobe Tests
Deleted Scenes-(No Audio)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Behind The Cameras
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1955
Running Time 106:22
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Nicholas Ray
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring James Dean
Natalie Wood
Sal Mineo
Jim Backus
Ann Doran
Corey Allen
William Hopper
Rochelle Hudson
Dennis Hopper
Edward Platt
Steffi Sidney
Marietta Canty
Virginia Brissac
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $19.95 Music Leonard Rosenman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.55:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.55:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
Bulgarian
Romanian
Russian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    "You're tearing me apart!" - Jim Stark

    Rebel Without A Cause was a controversial release in 1955. For the first time a mainstream movie dealt with the issue of juvenile delinquency from the viewpoint of teenagers. It stripped back the veneer of the perfect Middle-American family and showed dysfunctional relationships, weak parents and teenagers who were unable to fit into the world they found themselves inhabiting.

   James Dean, in the role that made him an icon, stars as Jim Stark, a new kid in town whose first appearance in the movie shows him arrested for drunkenness late at night. It soon becomes apparent that Jim is a young man with big problems. Constantly moved from town to town as his mother runs from the trouble he finds himself in, he is never able to fit in and is shunned by the other teenagers as he is always the new kid on the block. Added to this, his relationship with his parents is strained as he struggles to reach out to his weak and ineffectual father, a man  whom he loves but cannot respect. Jim Stark is at heart kind and desperately wants to do the right thing but is unable to find direction, so he is confused, angry and alienated.

    Coerced by the head of a school gang into an illegal car race so he can save face and fit in, Jim finds his troubles multiply when his adversary is accidentally killed during the race. Haunted by his conscience, lacking family support and chased by the gang who do not want him to go to the police, Jim finds his only solace in an unlikely friendship with Plato (Sal Mineo); a troubled youth searching for a father figure; and Judy (Natalie Wood); the girlfriend of the dead gang leader.

    The performances of the entire cast are excellent with Sal Mineo and Natalie Wood earning nominations for best supporting actor and actress respectively. Also of note is the performance by Jim Backus as Jim Stark's father. Backus is probably better remembered for his role as the millionaire on Gilligan's Island and as the voice of Mister Magoo, but he plays this serious role of the weak and hen-pecked father credibly. It is James Dean, however, that stands out, giving his trademark role of the isolated, anguished misfit a depth and pathos that dominates the screen.

    Rebel Without A Cause is rightly considered a classic and everyone should see it at least once. Although some aspects are dated, its themes are universal - the movie still has as much to say about family relationships and social acceptance as it did in 1955. If made today, many of the issues the film alludes to would be spelled out graphically and, while some parts of the film may seem a little coy in the early 21st century, the movie is probably better for making you think rather than being brutally blunt.

    Filmed during a production break while he was making Giant, Rebel Without A Cause made James Dean into an icon. Sadly, Dean never knew how influential this film would be, nor how popular it would make him, as it was released after his untimely death.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.55:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    This is another fine transfer of an older film and there is not really a lot to criticise with this one. In the first few scenes there are a couple of instances where there is a colour change for a few frames. This is quite noticeable around 4:36 when the video takes on a yellow hue for a few frames. This is in a part of the scene where there are no cuts or fades, just a fixed camera on Natalie Wood. For a number of frames Natalie becomes quite jaundiced as the whole frame gets a yellow tint to it. The effect vanishes as quickly as it appears.

    There is also a light amount of aliasing on occasion, but not enough to cause me any distraction nor to ruin my enjoyment of the movie.

    Other than these the video is clean and only suffers from the usual slightly muted colour that is common to films of this era.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Like the East Of Eden disc, Dolby Digital 5.1 is indicated, but most of the work is done by the centre speaker. The left and right fronts are used for some effect, but the rears were only slightly, if ever, used. The subwoofer was also left very quiet. Again, it seems like another case of encoding in Dolby Digital 5.1 just so it could be promoted on the slick, rather than as an attempt to provide a true surround sound mix.

    That aside, the audio is clean and clear with the dialogue always understandable and in sync without any hiss. A good soundtrack for a movie of this era, questionable use of Dolby Digital 5.1 notwithstanding.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu
   
There is an animated menu, but a nagging ad against video piracy is displayed first. Fortunately, pressing your menu button skips this.

Audio Commentary - Douglas L. Rathgeb
    Another pretty standard commentary by biographer Douglas L. Rathgeb. The background to the movie and significance of various scenes are discussed, along with behind the scenes information on the production. Not the most riveting commentary I've heard and a lot of the commentary seemed to be speaking for the sake of not having silence, with very obvious information on what was occurring in the scene being offered.

Featurette - James Dean Remembered (66:19)
    A 1974 TV special on James Dean. Dean's life and work. Interviews with Dean's friends and fellow actors give an insight into the real person behind the on-screen persona.

Featurette - Rebel Without A Cause: Defiant Innocents (36:28)
    A documentary on the film giving background to the story and information on its filming and production. The themes and inspiration for the story are also detailed.

Screen Tests (6:25)
    Pre-production screen test footage in Black and White, featuring James Dean, Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo performing an early draft of one of the scenes from the film as well as another scene that was not included in the final shoot.

Wardrobe Tests (5:03)
    Black and white footage of James Dean and other cast members during the wardrobe tests.

Deleted Scenes
    A selection of 16 scenes that were deleted from the final film, including five Black and White scenes from the original shoot before the decision was made to film in colour. There is no audio and no option to Play All - they must be selected one at a time.

Featurette - Behind The Scenes-Behind The Cameras (21:23)
    A series of TV specials from 1955 used to promote the movie. An early "Making Of" type of format that features interviews with James Dean, Natalie Wood and Jim Backus.

Trailer (2:16)
    The original theatrical trailer for the film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Region 1 misses out on the Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 soundtrack and Italian, Dutch, Arabic, Bulgarian, Romanian, Russian, English for the Hearing Impaired, and Italian for the Hearing Impaired subtitles.

    Region 4 misses out on Spanish subtitles.

    Other than these soundtrack and subtitle differences, and the NTSC vs PAL difference, the Region 1 and Region 4 releases are the same, so I'd call this one a tie.

Summary

    The definitive James Dean role and a movie that is much more than just a showcase for this screen icon. This movie is highly recommended and a movie that should be seen at least once. This Special Edition is a great package at a reasonable price. Even if you're not a big James Dean fan and don't want the boxed set, Rebel Without A Cause deserves a place in your collection.

    A nice video transfer for a film of this age.

    Clear, if not outstanding, audio.

    Extras are mildly interesting, but not must-haves unless you are a real die-hard James Dean fan.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Glen Randall (If you're really bored, you can read my bio)
Sunday, November 06, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-1200Y, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TH-42PV500A 42" HD Plasma. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V596
SpeakersRichter Wizard fronts, Richter Lynx centre, Richter Hydra rears, Velodyne CT-100 sub-woofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
New Book on Rebel Without a Cause -
A MAJOR problem with the quality of transitions between some scenes - REPLY POSTED