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1950s Context

Rebel Without A Cause

Economic Boom

The 1950s in the United States of America were marked with a sharp rise in the economy for the first time in almost 30 years and return to the 1920s-type consumer society built on credit and boom-times, as well as the baby boom from returning GIs who went to college under the G.I. Bill and settled in suburban America.

The Ideal Family

Advertising - consumerism

1950s Homemaker

Reduction in Internal Conflict

Most of the internal conflicts that had developed in earlier decades like women's rights, civil rights, imperialism, and war were relatively suppressed or neglected during this time as a world returning from the brink hoped to see a more consistent way of life

1950s American Family

External conflict

The 1950s were also marked with a rapid rise in conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union that would heighten the Cold War to an unprecedented level which would include the Arms Race, Space Race, McCarthyism, and Korean War.

The Cold War Arms Race

Developments in Science
Polio vaccine in 1955. The first organ transplants are done in Boston and Paris in 1954. Francis Crick and James D. Watson discover the helical structure of DNA

Rock and Roll

Traditional pop music reaches its climax; early rock and roll music (with Elvis Presley in the lead) was embraced by teenagers/youth culture while generally dismissed or condemned by older generations.

1950s Culture

Popular television programs in the U.S. include Texaco Star, Theater, Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts, I Love Lucy, The $64,000 Question, and Gunsmoke.

1950s Culture

Brylcreem and other hair tonics have a period of popularity Television replaces radio as the dominant mass medium in industrialized countries


Juvenile delinquency said to be at unprecedented epidemic proportions in USA, though some see this era as relatively low in crime compared to today.


Teenagers would become an economic force in the 1950s. Part time jobs would fund entertainment purchases

Youth Culture

Teen demand for movies that reflected their outlook on life became a burgeoning genre in the 1950s. Many were exploitative, sensationalizing the stories about juvenile delinquents. However, a number of films attempted to offer an insightful portrayal of out-of-control kids from the right side of the tracks, like Rebel Without a Cause starring James Dean and Natalie Wood

1950s Rebellion

Rebel Without a Cause (1955) is a film that sympathetically views rebellious, American, middleclass youth. The tale of youthful defiance provides a look at the world of the conformist mid-1950s from the perspective of the main adolescent male character

New Young Stars

Movie Stills

Troubled Lives

All three leading stars, who experienced troubled lives of their own, suffered premature deaths under unusual and tragic circumstances