Not just any young punk, though, as you’ll see. This is pure cultural gold, mined by a friend of The Atlantic and pared down to a handy six minutes from its original run time for your viewing pleasure. The easy historical analogy is the Nixon/Elvis meeting, but it’s not the same at all. Nixon/Elvis is memorable because of the distinct freak-show aspect of it: The king of rock ‘n roll together with a famously stiff law-and-order president, both on the precipice of grotesque decline caused by their respective pathologies. This clip, though, captures both participants on the eve of spectacular upward spirals, one long and the other short. And each in his own way ended up as a rebel, albeit one without a cause and the other very much with one.
The storyline is velveeta but it’s fun watching Dean play a character that feels like Jim Stark gone bad. The contrast in styles is fun, too: Reagan is the traditional Hollywood leading man while Dean is naturalistic (to the point of being over the top), but watch as the Gipper turns it on during the fight scene. No wonder the Soviets backed down.