In one of moviedom's most influential roles, James Dean is Jim, the new kid in town whose loneliness, frustration and anger mirrored those of postwar teens -- and reverberates 40 years later. Before the feature are three Behind-the-Cameras segments from the Warner Bros. Presents TV series (including a "safe-driving" interview withdrawn from airing following Dean's September 30, 1955 death) about Rebel Without a Cause. A documentary segment exclusive to this Warner Bros. Classics edition contains recently recovered screen tests and outtakes that show intriguing variations on what ended up in the final film.
The documentary featurette Rediscovering a Rebel
provides a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of this milestone film, including a look at the film's early scenes filmed in black and white, before it was decided to start from scratch and shoot the entire film in glorious color. It's here that we briefly see James Dean's character as originally conceived, sporting a brown blazer and wire-rimmed glasses, before it was decided that the "cooler" Jimmy would lose the spectacles and wear a stand-out jacket of fire-engine red. Also of interest are three segments of Warner Bros. Presents
, a mid-'50s TV series hosted by Gig Young that showcased Warner productions in progress. Offering a glimpse of the old-school Hollywood promotion machine at its most efficient, these scripted segments are fascinating artifacts of their time. In addition to some interesting behind-the-scenes footage, Natalie Wood makes a charming off-screen ingenue, Jim Backus is a hammy joker, and James Dean (in costume for Giant
) sulks in method-school cool while warning the youth of America to drive responsibly. Within weeks of filming that segment, Dean was killed when he lost control of his speeding Porsche Spyder. That supreme irony continues to resonate throughout this highly recommended DVD, proving that Rebel Without a Cause
has lost none of its classic vitality. --Jeff Shannon