East of Eden (1955)
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No Top Critics Tomatometer score yet...
Movie InfoThis truncated screen version of John Steinbeck's best-seller was the first starring vehicle for explosive 1950s screen personality James Dean, who plays Cal Trask, the "bad" son of taciturn Salinas valley lettuce farmer Adam Trask (Raymond Massey). Although he means well, Cal can't stay out of trouble, nor is he able to match the esteem in which his father holds his "good" brother Aron (Richard Davalos). Only Aron's girlfriend Abra (Julie Harris) and kindly old sheriff Sam Burl Ives) can see the essential goodness in the troublesome Cal. When Adam invests in a chancy and wholly unsuccessful method of shipping his crops east, his wealth plummets. In an effort to save the business, Cal obtains money from his estranged mother (the proprietor of a whorehouse) and invests it in a risky new bean crop. The gamble pays off (thanks in no small part to the war), but Adam refuses to take the money from Cal, and the resultant quarrel causes Adam to have a stroke. Released the same year as Rebel Without a Cause, East of Eden provided Dean with his first Oscar nomination, for Best Actor. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi … More
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Critic Reviews for East of Eden
John Steinbeck's painful biblical allegory -- Genesis replayed in Monterey, California, circa 1917 -- is more palatable on the screen, thanks to the down-to-earth performances of James Dean as Cal/Cain and Richard Davalos as Aron/Abel.
It's a film of great performances, atmospheric photography, and a sure sense of period and place.
Not only one of Kazan's richest films and Dean's first significant role, it is also arguably the actor's best performance.
In short, there is energy and intensity but little clarity and emotion in this film. It is like a great, green iceberg: mammoth and imposing but very cold.
Catches fire in the clashes between Dean (as the bad brother) and Raymond Massey as his stiff-necked dad.
After testing various performers (including a newcomer named Paul Newman), Kazan went with the unknown Dean, a move that immediately yielded dividends.
a reaction to our plutocracy's values and a further case for Dean as the sainted figure of rebellion that would fuel the generational schism of the '60s.
East of Eden is set in 1917 but [James] Dean feels completely modern and contemporary, a boy not quite comfortable in his body.
Fine James Dean vehicle, one of few that put him into immortality.
Kazan had the bad sense to leave out the best parts from the lengthy book.
James Dean's finest performance
Kazan's Biblical allegory has not held up well, but Dean's performance, for which he was Oscar-nominated posthumously, proves why he became a star after his very first film
... can be seen as one of the earliest examples of the enshrinement of the unregenerate, semi-nihilistic "attitude" that informed and in part created "rock 'n' roll."
the real reason that this film has any legs at all (and the ONLY reason that Warner Brothers has released the DVD) rests with James Dean
Dean's performance continues to resonant, still evoking today the same anger, anguish, and confusion of growing up that it did half a century ago.
If you turn the sound down on East of Eden (and, by all means, do), you'll see why Dean is a legend.
as exciting a drama as you're ever likely to see, and ultimately it's the unforgettable Dean that makes it so
Overwrought, often splendid Kazan version of the Steinbeck novel. The movie's chief distinction is the amazing debut of rebellious, romantic James Dean.
Audience Reviews for East of Eden
The son of a farmer desperately seeks his father's approval.
In this film James Dean looks like he could either violently explode or be disintegrated into a million pieces by a light breeze. His performance is a showcase in vulnerability, which, in a way, is was acting is about - the vulnerability and availability of an actor's emotional truth and interpretation of the character. The story is fine, but by the end of the film, all I can remember is Dean, whose performance is a master class in what acting should be.
Overall, see this film for James Dean.
Based on a novel by John Steinbeck, and directed by Elia Kazan, this is the first film in the James Dean Trilogy.
Set in Salinas, California in 1917, this is the story of Cal (Dean) a young wayward man who competes with his brother Aron (Dick Davalos) for the affections of their hardened father Adam (Raymond Massey). It's basically a Cain and Abel type of story, and agriculture plays an important role even. It's not a strict adaptation of that story, but it is the best reference point to use to describe things.
Things are rather dramatic, though they dip into melodrama at times. And, in typical Kazan fashion, there's a lot of subtext, mostly since the imminent entrance of the U.S. into World War i and anti-German sentiment plays a fairly sizable role throughout.
It took me a bit to get interested and involved, but once I tapped into this film's groove, I enjoyed it quite a bit. Like the other two film's Dean did I do think it's overrated to a degree, but it's still pretty solid even then. Of the three, this one's #2 for me behind Rebel Without a Cause.
It's good, but personally I didn't think it was outstanding or anything. The acting is terrific though, and there's some great camerawork, but it just didn't completely seem like my thing. If it were, I'd probably have a somewhat higher opinion of it. Still though, it's getting a really solid recommendation from me.
A timeless and profoundly touching retelling of the Biblical story of Cain and Abel using the early 20th century California as backdrop. While the visuals and music are wonderful, it is James Dean's performance the most spectacular here, especially in the poignant final scene.More
Extraordinarily good version of the second half of the Steinbeck classic novel. Dean is riveting as the conflicted Cal with Julie Harris as Abra matching him every step of the way. Tautly directed by Kazan even in the quieter moments this pulls you right along. Burl Ives makes his few small scenes count and Raymond Massey is strong as the misguided and righteous father. The real standout in support is Jo Van Fleet in her Oscar winning role as the cruel Kate, she crafts a fully realized person in just a few short scenes. James Dean was fine in all three of his big screen films but this is his best performance. If you have the chance catch the Jane Seymour miniseries of the entire book, it has its faults but her performance in it is sublime.More
East of Eden Quotes
- Sam the Sheriff:
- Cal Trask:
- I've been jealous all my life. Jealous, I couldn't even stand it. Tonight, I even tried to buy your love, but now I don't want it anymore. I can't use it anymore. I don't want any kind of love anymore. It doesn't pay off.
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