A full-length James Dean smoulders on this exceedingly rare two-panel poster for the first Japanese release of the classic 1955 teenage drama Rebel Without A Cause in April 1956. Starring Dean in his most celebrated role as a troubled teen alongside Natalie Wood, the film achieved mythical status when he tragically died a month before the release, becoming an icon of American pop culture. The groundbreaking film offers a portrait of rebellious and misunderstood youth in 1950s middle-class suburban America from the perspective of a defiant Dean.
Standing at almost 5 foot tall, this full-bleed Japanese STB poster features some of the best artwork we have seen for this classic title, its vertical format perfectly suited to the famous image of an impossibly cool James Dean, cigarette in hand, nonchalantly slouched against a wall, peering out at us from between the vertical Japanese titles - printed in a punchy yellow against the moody blue ground. A similar illustration of Dean featured on the US One Sheet poster, as part of a lacklustre overall design. Natalie Wood is pictured lovingly gazing at her co-star, laid out along the base of the poster with eyes closed in an eerie allusion to the untimely death of the tragic teen idol.
The tall and slender Japanese 'STB' or 'Tatekan' poster format was printed on two standard Japanese B2 poster sheets, designed to overlap to form an awesome 58 x 20 inches for display in cinema standing boards, door panels and ticket booths. Printed in far smaller quantities than the regular B2 posters, surviving STB posters from this period are extremely rare and sought after by collectors, particularly for the most beloved and iconic movie titles. To our knowledge, this poster has never appeared for sale at any major Western auction house. Originally acquired from a private collector in Japan, it is likely that this is one of a very few copies remaining in existence.
Very Good (B+)
Conservation backed on linen. Prior to backing this poster was on two sheets as issued, each sheet with one vertical and one horizontal fold line, nicks and tears to corners and edges, and a handful of small edge tears to blue ground, no larger than ¼in. Backing has smoothed fold lines, edge wear and the overlap between sheets. Light colour touching has diminished the appearance of fold lines, edge creases and edge tears. Faint ink transfer to vertical fold in lower portion. Image and colours otherwise excellent.