Several things surprised me about this movie. Ann and I both wanted to see a James Dean movie, because he is still so glamorized by our culture. We had an idea of him being aloof and cool, which doesn’t describe his character in this movie at all. Here he’s sincere, well-meaning, loving, and sensitive in addition to angst-ridden and rebelious. The movie tackles some of the stickier aspects of parent-teen relations too. Dad is dominated by Mom and Grandma, or inapropriately attracted to his daughter. It’s real stuff.
We noticed something about the soundtrack too. It was the same orchestral style as ’40’s noir movies like Lady From Shanghai, but the overbearing aspect was gone. Also, the soundtrack fit the scenes better. It may have been a step towards the “feel like this now” soundtracks that come out of Hollywood now, but I’d say that’s certainly an improvement over those bombastic predecessors.