Over at the Guardian yesterday, they reported that "lost" footage of iconic actor Marlon Brando screen testing for Rebel Without a Cause way back in 1947 has been found, and it's got lots of folks excited to imagine what Brando would have brough to the lead role of the classic film. The five-minute screen test, included as an extra on the DVD release of Brando's A Streetcar Named Desire, shows a young Brando "railing against his parents" and "finding a gun and lighting out for a new life with his girl. Today The Guardian's Xan Brooks speculated on what Rebel Without a Cause might have been like with Brando in the role that made James Dean famous eight years later. Davis opines that a Rebel with Brando in the role of Jim Stark would have been inferior to the film made by Nicholas Ray with Dean in the lead role - an assertion I happen to agree with.
What neither Guardian piece addresses, though, is that the screen test Brando made in 1947 had practically nothing to do with the Rebel Without A Cause we're all familiar with. After I read the article in the Guardian, I emailed Stewart Stern (pictured), who wrote the screenplay for Rebel Without a Cause. I interviewed Stern extensively last year, and we talked a lot about Dean, Rebel, and what Brando thought of Dean. I knew Stern didn't write his screenplay in 1947, so I asked him if he knew anything about this Brando screen test. As he recalls it after all these years, Stern believes it went this way: