10 September 2020 | christopher-underwood
rebel without a cause
It is difficult to write about this film without mentioning its theatrical origins even though whilst watching it I was at first doubtful that this had ever have been performed on the stage. Gradually the stage origin becomes apparent but there is initially so much use of physical close-ups and street location action as to not make at all obvious at first. First performed in London's West End in 1965 the play had only modest success but drew a little more attention than had the original version, apparently running some five hours. John Hurt played in the later presentation at the Comedy Theatre and when a film version was muted suggested his pal George Harrison might be approached for funding. This would ultimately result in the setting up of HandMade Films who would go on to produce many a fine British film including Withnail & I (1987) which is often mentioned in the same context as this film, even though it were made some thirteen years later - it was admittedly set in the late 60s. The absurdist origins of the play/film are apparent and Beckett, Ionesco and Genet all come to mind as this swirling nihilist and absurdist drama with homosexual overtones speeds horribly, yet amusingly, out of control. Not an easy watch, being heavy in language with largely unlikeable characters but absorbing and mesmerising all the same with the most sensational central performance from Hurt and able support from the others in particular David Warner as the downtrodden, duffle coated English, rebel without a cause.