Live Fast, Die Young: The Wild Ride of Making Rebel Without a Cause

Lawrence Frascella, Author, Al Weisel, Author
Lawrence Frascella, Author, Al Weisel, Author . S&S/Touchstone $24.95 (372p) ISBN 978-0-7432-6082-4
Reviewed on: 08/29/2005
Release date: 09/01/2005
Paperback - 372 pages - 978-0-7432-9618-2
Ebook - 384 pages - 978-0-7432-9118-7
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Frascella and Weisel's expansive overview isn't the first book to document the influential Warner Brothers classic, but it does deserve recognition for its exhaustiveness. With the first third of the book focusing on script problems, casting and unusual prefilming improvisatory rehearsals, the detailed chronological coverage of the actual filming doesn't begin until just after page 100. As Frascella (former chief movie critic of what was then Us Magazine ) and Weisel (a Premiere contributor) explain, screenwriter Stewart Stern struggled to develop director Nicholas Ray's innovative idea for a film about middle-class juvenile delinquents, delivering the final script only four days before the 1955 production start. Upon revealing this fact, the book kicks into high gear, examining everything from the history and symbolism of James Dean's red jacket to Natalie Wood's affair with Ray. Dean created friction with the film's older actors, the authors say; some were taken aback by the on-set "atmosphere of improvisation and borderline anarchy." Behind-the-scenes conflicts, feuds and power plays come to life thanks to the authors' thorough research and interviews with surviving cast and crew members. Concluding chapters probe the Dean cult and the film's "enduring power." Photos. Agents, Martha Kaplan and Drew Nederpelt. (Oct. 4)

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