Before Rebel Without a Cause
, James Dean and Natalie Wood appeared together in the General Electric TV production, I Am a Fool
, in December 1954.
In That's Hollywood
(HarperPerennial), author Peter Van Gelder wrote "The monkey that Jimmy is playing with at the beginning of the film is a relic of footage that was lost when, early on in the production, Warners decided to do the film in colour. Ray had already shot an upbeat little scene which was to go before the existing opening with an old man being mugged by a group of youths who burn the parcels he is carrying. The monkey was the only one of his purchases left strewn on the street."
Van Gelder also noted in That's Hollywood
that the first minutes of Rebel Without a Cause
"are typical in the degree to which they were extemporized. They had been filming for twenty-three hours. It was dawn. James Dean just asked the director to roll the cameras and he improvised the drunken reverie that you can just about see behind the titles. Beverly Long, who played Helen, claimed that afterwards everyone wept."
When Jayne Mansfield tested for the part of Judy, Nicholas Ray was so convinced she was wrong for the role that he didn't even put film in the camera.
According to some record books, Natalie Wood's five-minute crying scene beats Bette Davis' previous all-time record set by Winter Meeting
Frank Mazzola, who plays Crunch in the film, was employed as an advisor on gang life. He later became a film editor and worked with Donald Cammell on the final edit of Performance
(1970) starring Mick Jagger.
When he was cast in Rebel Without a Cause
as Plato, Sal Mineo had just turned sixteen years old.
Rebel Without a Cause
was Nicholas Ray's first film in CinemaScope.
Columnist Louella Parsons hailed Sal Mineo as "the teenage acting sensation" of 1955.
The knife fight between James Dean and Corey Allen was performed with real switchblades. The actors wore protective gear underneath their clothing.
Kenneth Anger, author of Hollywood Babylon
, claims that the reason for James Dean's twitchy performance was due to a bad case of the crabs which he suffered through for most of the shooting.
According to Karl and Philip French in Cult Movies
(Billboard Books), "The homoerotic overtones of the script's relationship between Plato and Jimmy were matched in real life, at least in an attraction between the two actors. When questioned on the subject by Boze Hadleigh in Conversations With My Elders
, Mineo answered, "I might tell you some people I had affairs with - maybe. But Jimmy was special, so I don't want to say." During the shoot Dean had a long-standing girlfriend, and a possibly platonic relationship with Ursula Andress, as well as a brief liaison with Natalie Wood, which was uncomfortably consummated in his Porsche. Wood was simultaneously having affairs with Dennis Hopper and Nicholas Ray.
Memorable Quotes from Rebel Without a Cause
Buzz Gunderson: You know how to chicky-race don't you?
Jim Stark: Yeah, it's all I ever do.
Jim Stark: [to Plato] What's a chicky-race?
Jim Stark: Is this where you live?
Judy: Who lives?
Jim Stark: Hey they forgot to wind the sundial.
Jim Stark: You're tearing me apart!
[Looking up at stars in a planetarium.]
Jim Stark: Once you been up there you know you've been someplace.
Jim Stark: You know something? You read too many comic books.
Jim Stark: I'll bet you'd go to a hanging.
Plato: I guess it's just my morbid personality.
Jim Stark: You can wake up now, the universe has ended.
by Scott McGee and Jeff Stafford