Rebel Without a Cause, 1955
Dir: Nicholas Ray
Melodrama, in it's way, can be used for a lot of things, and here it's certainly used to good effect. Everything's really hammy, but that's because the entire movie is taking potshots at the American way of life in the 50s. I mean, this basically invented American teen culture. Even so, it's hard for me to say that a film is fantastic if it's so over the top in it acting and score, though again, the music is perfect for the pulpy melodrama that this is. Ray's direction is pretty eye-popping, with a gigantic color palette that is ambitious and impressive. It's really hard to talk about the acting, because to my eye, it's grating. Not terrible, but obvious in its over-the-topness. It's done on purpose, so it's wrong to call it a mistake. James Dean can actually be really funny sometimes, which was a pleasant surprise. I love the story, the direction and even the way it plays out. There's even a 19 year old Dennis Hopper in the Kids gang. But it's just on the wrong end of the spectrum for me. For a film that is being so ambitious, and not to mention risque, about culture and sexuality, this is the place go.