During the 1940s, Warner Brothers bought the rights to Robert Lindner’s book, Rebel Without a Cause: The Hypnoanalysis of a Criminal Psychopath, and began turning it into a film. A partial script was written, and a 23-year old Marlon Brando was asked to do a five-minute screen test in 1947. For whatever reason, the studio abandoned the original project, and eventually revived it eight years later with a new script and a new actor — James Dean, of course. Dean’s own screen test for Rebel Without a Cause appears here.
Down the road, you can find the Brando clip in our collection of 275 Cultural Icons, which features great thinkers and artists appearing in original video & audio. Tolstoy, Salvador Dali, Georgia O’Keeffe, they’re all part of the mix.