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East of Eden strains to swell its story to epic dimensions, but James Dean's riveting performance gives this CinemaScope drama much of its raging heart. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

In this film based on John Steinbeck's epic novel, Cal Trask (James Dean), the son of a California farmer (Raymond Massey), feels that his father cares only about his brother, Aron (Richard Davalos). When Cal embarks on a business venture to gain the favor of his dad, he finds himself dealing with his estranged mother (Jo Van Fleet), now the owner of a brothel, and tensions in the family rise even further when he begins to fall for Aron's girlfriend, Abra (Julie Harris).

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Critic Reviews for East of Eden

All Critics (40) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (34) | Rotten (6)

Audience Reviews for East of Eden

  • Dec 01, 2015
    Family, love, and digging yourself up from beneath the dirt, (to name a few) are all underlying elements throughout this picture. This beautifully directed, James Dean (his first) lead feature, proves as a defining movie of it's decade. As Cal is ridiculed by his father and looked down upon by others, due to the fact that his brother has everything going for him, including a love interest, he sets out to make a name for himself and turn his life around. A long time ago, his family was abandoned by his mother and he sets out to collect money to help return the favours given by his father. In hopes to be accepted by his father, mother, and respected by the town and his own brother, Cal Trask is one complex character that I could just not get enough of. James Dean is terrific in this film and the screenplay is adapted brilliantly. Lessons about life, love, and happiness leap off the screen and I bought every message. Everything about this film screams greatness in filmmaking to me and it is definitely one of the best films I have ever seen. "East of Eden" is a breathtaking picture.
    KJ P Super Reviewer
  • Jul 01, 2014
    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.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Jan 19, 2014
    This is an American classic. It's a real shame that James Dean died so young, because he's amazing here.
    Stephen S Super Reviewer
  • Aug 07, 2013
    The James Dean film that gets less airplay compared to Rebel Without a Cause and Giant, East of Eden is nonetheless another prime example of what good acting Dean successfully brought to the screen. I think this was the last one which is a shame.
    John B Super Reviewer

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