Dean plays Jim Stark, a jittery kid uncomfortable in his own skin, wanting to stay in with local toughs while remaining true to himself. He attracts similar troubled souls Judy (Natalie Wood) and Plato (Sal Mineo), and the trio form a supportive family unit which reflects dimly on each of their home circumstances.
Nicholas Ray was inspired by both Romeo and Juliet and his study into juvenile delinquency, and his sincerity and compassion are evident. All three leads deliver incredibly intense performances, while Dean, in his red Harrington jacket, white t-shirt and Levis, would cement an image of cool that would be Xeroxed by following generations.
This film is screening as part of our focus on James Dean, with new digital restorations of the three films that are the best part of his legacy (April 25th – May 1st).