East of Eden

1955

East of Eden

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

86%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 36

90%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 23,481
User image

East of Eden Photos

Movie Info

This 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

Watch it now

Cast

James Dean
as Cal Trask
Raymond Massey
as Adam Trask
Dick Davalos
as Aron Trask
Richard Davalos
as Aron Trask
Harold Gordon
as Mr. Albrecht
Nick Dennis
as Rantani
Richard Garrick
as Dr. Edwards
Tex Mooney
as Bartender
Loretta Rush
as Card Dealer
Jonathan Haze
as Piscora's Son
John George
as Photographer
Earle Hodgins
as Shooting Gallery Attendant
C. Ramsay Hill
as English Officer
Jack Carr
as Carnival Person
Roger Creed
as Carnival Person
Effie Laird
as Carnival Person
Wheaton Chambers
as Carnival Person
Ed Clark
as Carnival Person
Al Ferguson
as Carnival Person
Franklyn Farnum
as Carnival Person
Rose Plummer
as Carnival Person
View All

News & Interviews for East of Eden

Critic Reviews for East of Eden

All Critics (36) | Top Critics (5)

  • It's far from a dull movie, but it's certainly a very strange one; it's an enshrinement of the mixed-up kid.

    Jan 3, 2018 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Nov 1, 2007 | Full Review…
  • It's a film of great performances, atmospheric photography, and a sure sense of period and place.

    Jan 26, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Not only one of Kazan's richest films and Dean's first significant role, it is also arguably the actor's best performance.

    Dec 6, 2005 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    May 20, 2003 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Full Review…
  • James Dean is decidedly the highlight of the film. His Method acting techniques and uninhibited performing style cause him to stand out among the more conventional cast.

    Aug 27, 2018 | Rating: 3.4/5 | Full Review…

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

East of Eden Quotes

News & Features