Love is found in the unlikeliest of places: in Italian Verona of the Montagues and Capulets, in the back seat of a car on the ill-fated Titanic, and in an abandoned mansion in Nicholas Ray's Rebel Without A Cause.
Jim Stark (James Dean) sits in a police station being ignored by his hen-pecking parents: he wants them to listen to him, but they can't even listen to each other. Young Plato (Sal Mineo) is there too; he's been out gunning down puppies but he sits sullenly, dressed like a dandy in a tie and sweater. The third character in our triangle is Judy (Natalie Wood) sits in a poodle-skirt; she's was caught walking the streets and her father has come to his "dirty tramp" up. Our characters and their conflict is established - all have either physically or emotionally nonexistent parents and this film is designed to serve as a warning to mid-50's audiences that are in the grip of juvenile-delinquent hysteria.
The next morning, after their parents and maids have bailed them out of jail, Jim, Plato, and Judy meet again school and their outsider credentials are again established; Jim mistakenly steps on the school emblem embedded in the sidewalk are earns the ire of his classmates and Plato has a fan boy picture of Alan Ladd pasted to his locker door. On the class fieldtrip to Griffith Observatory, Plato and Jim bond while the stars swirl overhead. A penultimate crash of thunder sends Plato scurrying under the seats, the show ends, and Jim stays behind to comfort him. Meanwhile, their classmates have gathered outside to wait for the new kids; their knives flashing they slash Jim's tires while he looks on. Buzz questions Jim's manhood and, blades drawn, their interrupted knife leads to a challenge to meet again that night to settle the issue for a "chickee run." .
During the game (and while a doe-eyed Plato looks on), Buzz is accidentally killed and distraught, Jim flees home where he hopes to get some comfort from his parents.