Surprising Facts About the 1955 Movie Rebel Without a Cause

Rebel Without a Cause marked the pinnacle of James Dean’s career, but it also marked the end of it. The brightest star in Hollywood passed away just one month before Nicholas Ray’s vision was released. Despite being released over 60 years ago, Warner Bros. poignant drama remains one of the most iconic movies to ever grace our screens.

Join us as we take a look at the little-known facts surrounding the movie, from production problems to illicit affairs. You’ll be surprised to learn how much free reign Dean had on set…

The Movie is Based on a Real Character

James Dean Side Eye
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

It’s easy to assume that Rebel Without a Cause was the brainchild of a cigar-smoking Golden Age Hollywood executive. After all, James Dean needed a role like this, so they could’ve plucked something from thin air to accommodate him. However, the movie is actually based on a book by Dr. Robert Lindner.

The 1944 work wasn’t fiction, but a case study on a young man called Harold. At the time the book was written, Harold was an inmate at Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary. It didn’t take Warner Bros. long to stumble across the story and see that it would fit in well with the ’50s market.