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Film Studies 101
Classic Scene

15

REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE
"They called me chicken"

SETTING THE SCENE  After the schoolboy's test of courage has ended in death, Jim Stark (James Dean) appeals to his parents and becomes enraged by their concern that he should cover his own ass…

JIM: Dad, I said it was a matter of honour, remember? They called me chicken. You know? Chicken? I had to go. Cause, I didn't I'd never be able to face those kids again. I got in one of those cards and Buzz, that... Buzz, one of those kids, he got into the other car and we had to drive fast and jump, see, before the car came to the edge of the bluff and I got out okay and Buzz didn't and uh... it killed him. And I can't, I can't keep it to myself any more... That is not what I mean! Dad, I, I have never done anything right. I've been going around with my head in in a sling for years! I didn't want to drag you into this but I can't help it. See, I think, I think you can't just go around proving things and pretending like you're tough, and you can't... the look, that you feel... oh. YOU'RE NOT LISTENING TO ME! You're involved in this just like I am. Now I'm going to the police and I want to tell them I'm involved in this thing and I... (over his parent's objections)... I DON'T KNOW! I don't know. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter.
HIS FATHER: You can't be idealistic all your life.

JIM: Except, except! Except to yourself. You don't want me to go. But I am involved! WE ARE ALL INVOLVED! Mom, a boy, a kid was killed tonight! I don't see how I can get out of it by pretending that it didn't happen.

HIS FATHER: You know you did the wrong thing; and that's the main thing.

JIM: That's nothing! That is absolutely nothing... Mom, I, just once I want to do something right! Dad, you better give me something. You better give me something fast... Dad, let me hear you answer her. Dad? Dad, stand up for me. STAND UP!

(He grabs his father, pulls him up and around and knocks him to the ground, choking him, then runs out...)

 

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