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1950's Movie Essay: “rebel Without a Cause”

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Essay title: 1950's Movie Essay: “rebel Without a Cause”

1950s Movie Essay: Rebel Without A Cause


Rebel Without A Cause is a very popular film from 1955. It depicts life in the 1950’s from the viewpoint of three teenagers who live in Los Angeles, California. They live in a comfortable environment in middle-class America. However, they must deal with their own inabilities to “fit” into society. The teens try to fit in with their peers and find the love they so desperately need from their families and others like their peers. The biases presented in the film’s are based on cultural values form the 1950s. Rebel Without A Cause also compares to some of the data presented in the text Nation of Nations. The film also compares to the general view America has of the period of the 1950s. For these reasons, Rebel Without A Cause is an essential film in understanding the 1950s.

Film’s Cultural Values or Biases of the 1950’s

The film tells a tale of the restless and somewhat misunderstood rebellious and defiant American youth. The film highlights the conformance of 1950s America, through the eyes of the main character, who faces a new school environment and unsporting or ‘loving’ parents. Though the film could be seen as bias, by portraying all 1950s youths as rebellious and engaging in “chickie runs” and knife fights, who would rather go against the grain of society, the film instead uses this bias to portray more of the internal seeking of youthful acceptance and love that all teens of this period were seeking, through rebelliousness and acts of promiscuity.

This film has achieved cult status through the years as was the springboard for other 1950s movies trying to portray the same exploitation of teenage rebellion and delinquency. Perhaps what makes this film of such cultural value is that unlike other teenage rebellious films of this generation, it takes a more sympathetic look at the situation and uses tragedy to get the value across. The tragedy following the “chickie run” and the fact that only two of the movies three stars survive into adulthood, really hits home to the viewer the cultural value of acceptance that these youths were trying to seek through more delinquent ways.

The only true bias in this film is the suggestion that only kids of upper classes families were trying to rebel and commit juvenile acts. Towards the opening of the movie one of the main characters parents arrive at the police station to pick him up, the father is dressed in a dinner suit and it is learned that they had to leave an affluent dinner party at the ‘country club’ to get their son. As seen in our text and through films of this genre, it is known that youth from all social classes were lazy, promiscuous and of a delinquent mentality.

Film’s Presentation of the 1950’s in Comparison to the Text

As compared to our text, the movie”Rebel Without A Cause" is extremely representative of the mid fifties period in time. The entire movie is set in suburban American. During the fifties, the suburbs were the largest growing section of the population. They started building large amounts of separate single-family homes that were inhabited by mostly white families. The text also explains that these suburbs were often segregated by religion, race and social status. Everyone in the neighborhood appeared to be middle class, Caucasian families with the exception of a single housekeeper who was African American. All of the teens in the movie were attempting to rebel against their parents and the authorities. They all participated in illegal acts, and every teen shown in context with their families refused

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