This is the first time I've ever seen one of James Dean's three movies. I'm impressed. I'm used 50s movies portraying youth very superficially. None of the characters in this movie seemed one-dimensional to me. The three main characters, Jim, Judy, and Plato are all kids starting to rebel from their parents. Jim (James Dean) feels like his father isn't much of a man and kow-tows to his mother too much. He wants to know how to be a man. Judy (Natalie Wood) doesn't relate at all to her parents. And Plato (Sal Mineo) comes from a broken home, the father long gone and the mother leaving him in the care of a housekeeper. Jim is new in town, and the local toughs that Judy has fallen in with decide Jim is their target. Jim doesn't want to fight mostly, but feels he has to to be a man. And he can't get the guidance he wants from his father. I think the themes were handled with a lot more tact and with a lot more care than you see in comparable specials of the week shown in the 80s. They shoulda just played this movie. I did think the scenes running around the mansion were a bit long and overdone. And I question even a high school girl who proclaims true love after less than a day after meeting someone. Particularly when the boyfriend she had in the morning is dead by nightfall. Who moves on that fast? I suppose you gotta take some license though.