Rebel Without A Cause, released in 1955, is a film that sympathetically portrays the rebellious, misunderstood, American middle-class youth. The story provides a full, but stylized look at the world of the conformist mid-1950s. Critics of the 1950's industry in America have claimed that it is ideological, serving as a propaganda machine to perpetuate conservative myths of the American Dream, gender, and racial stereotypes. The principal feature of post-World War II American society was its overwhelming prosperity in comparison with the rest of the world. This newfound freedom and prosperity led to the migration of families by the thousands flocking to the so-called center of the American Dream: the suburbs. Living in the suburbs was supposed to be the ultimate sign of success: the perfect home, family, and neighborhood, would all be present. Contrary to this popular belief, Rebel Without a Cause is a true dose of reality, revealing the truth that as long as families do not have structure, communication, and morals, life in the suburbs will prove to serve as no solution at all. Rebel Without a Cause, portrays a true, and yet, grim look at the life of teens in the 1950s, growing up in the suburbs, and what American society can do to those who are different.
Due to the fact that post-war efforts brought a large demand for workers, both mother and father held jobs and often led to the unsupervision of teenagers. In the film, the three main characters, all teenagers, are Jim Stark, Judy, and Plato. At the beginning of the film all three are obviously going through tough times due to the fact that they are all taken to the same police station. It is ironic that these three teens, all who are rich, of the desired white race, and part of the suburban life are all in trouble with the law. Normally one would think that teens of this kind of culture would not have any reason or motive to undergo run-ins with the law.