Rebel Without A Cause; SIX

Divorced, beheaded, survived

I haven’t attended enough cultural/entertainment events for my tastes of late. While I did go to the reopening of the Spectrum Theatre on April 24, I haven’t been able to get there since, and I want to soon.

I saw Rebel Without A Cause, the first James Dean movie I ever viewed.  Experienced with a 21st-century lens, Jim Stark (Dean) seems less a rebel than, in the words of ScreenRant, “a troubled youth struggling to find his place in a society he sees as hypocritical and devoid of meaning.”

Indeed, it is the high school clique that almost immediately scorns him without much provocation who are at least as broken as he. The knife fight between Jim and Buzz (Corey Allen), a few years before West Side Story, is said to reflect the “social pressures of male teenagers.”

Surely, Jim is frustrated by his ineffectual father Frank (Jim Backus), who allows Jim’s mother Carol (Ann Doran) to uproot the family at the first sign of difficulty.


Jim’s one male friend, Plato (Sal Mineo), is a real outsider, abandoned by his parents, needing “to assert some control over a world in which he feels powerless and invisible.”

Jim’s classmate Judy (Natalie Wood, later in West Side Story) evolves from her disregard for Jim as her classmates did, while missing her old relationship with her father (William Hopper from Perry Mason), to Jim and Judy becoming surrogate parents to Plato.

Indie Wire makes the case that Plato is the first gay teenager on film while avoiding getting stopped by the restrictive Hays Code

It’s an interesting slice of life, with Ray (Edward Platt from Get Smart), the cop specializing in dealing with youth a sympathetic character. Even if it is “overwrought and cloyingly melodramatic,” I still appreciated the chance to see it on the big screen.

Famously, the three leads all died too soon. In a gallery of Lost Photos From a Legendary Hollywood Archive, Dean is captured just a month before he died in a car crash at the age of 24 on 9/30/55, even before the film premiered. Natalie Wood drowned at sea in 1981 at the age of 43. And Sal Mineo was murdered in 1976 at the age of 37.

Divorced, beheaded, died…

SIX, which my wife, daughter, and I saw at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady I don’t think is that compelling a book. I had listened to the music beforehand. But for what it is, it does the thing extremely well. It was an 80-minute rock show with a sextet of Henry VIII’s queens.

The Times Union review by Katherine Kiess is about right. “Styled as a ‘Renaissance Idol’ belt-off…they compete in a glamor-coated trauma Olympics to see whose marriage was the worst.”

You can tell it was a rock show because they namechecked “Schenectady!” a half dozen times before the “LED wall panels and cathedral windows that become everything from a church confessional to a dating app screen.”

The four-piece band, the Ladies In Waiting, cooked.  And the singers were excellent. So it’s perhaps not great theater but, as the Los Angeles Times noted, it is “unapologetically revisionist. That’s why it’s successful.” And entertaining enough.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial