Cinematic Music Videos: Rush, Rush/Rebel Without a Cause

Long before Paula Abdul was "Nice Judge" on the television blight that is American Idol, she was a singer and choreographer. And long before Keanu Reeves starred in the Matrix, he performed the part of analog James Dean in this video.

Rush, Rush was featured on Abdul's second album Spellbound in 1991. It topped Billboard's Top 100 for five consecutive weeks. Enough background, lets get down to brass tacks here...

We can't discuss the video/cinematic comparison without tackling something else first-the context. The video, if you have never seen it before, can come across as ridiculous. The song is a pop ballad from the early 90's and who do you get to star in the video, but the heartthrob of every teen girl in 1991, KEANU REEVES! Reeves, who hadn't achieved superstardom yet, would be releasing Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey this same year. In this video we have him uttering dialogue in the same surfer tone we associate with his early career. He's dressed as James Dean, but it might be difficult to get passed the 90's skater hair-cut and goofy vacant look on his face. To make matters worse, watching Paula Abdul look at him longingly (doing her best Natalie Wood) is somewhat laughable, especially while he looks like he's focusing on a dust particle floating through the air.

That said, I've come to greatly appreciate Keanu. I adore the Bill and Ted Films as cult classics from childhood (They still hold up today), and have admired his work in Dracula, Point Break, A Walk in the Clouds, The Devil's Advocate, and of course The Matrix. My Fiance tried to convince me of his merit on our first date, by telling me his two seconds of acting during the stand-off with Dennis Hopper in Speed was brilliant. I saw the clip, and remained unimpressed. However, I think he turned a corner with The Gift in 2000 and again with Constantine in 2005. I would definitely argue that he has gotten better with age. He's no longer the stoner, sitting in the back of the classroom whom all the girls pine after, while he looks vacantly at the poster of a kitten dangling from a tree branch..."Hang in there" indeed...He is now a competent actor who has delivered some fine performances in his middle years. Anyway...

This video does an excellent job of recreating classic scenes from Rebel Without a Cause (1955) Starring James Dean, Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo and Dennis Hopper. The film is probably one of the first serious depictions of youth during postwar America, which is why it remains a classic today. Rebel is James Dean's signature role. He is tough, sensitive, goofy and vulnerable (Kinda sounds a little like early 90s Keanu when I use those adjectives). Despite his brilliant turns in Giant (1956) and East of Eden(1955), this is how we remember Dean. We likely wouldn't have such films as The Breakfast Club, The Outsiders or Juno without Rebel. The video focusses more on the romantic aspects of the film with Abdul standing in for Wood, although she doesn't exude the innocence that Wood was known for. We are treated to recreations of The opening police station scene, the planetarium scene, and the drag race that are very accurate. Given the early 90's context, they did an excellent job of translating the film to an audience who might not have been aware of it's existence. This video is a well made homage to a cinema classic, slightly hampered by it's time period. In any event they did a great job with it and I may just have to watch Rebel without a Cause again...after I watch this video a few more times while laughing uncontrollably.

-Rob Out.