1954, 1 yr before Dean was killed on hiway 46 in SLO County in a auto collision. A good movie but dumb premise. A brewing, quiet "problem son" DEAN tries to make a connection with people, his mother and father. Seemed awfully repetitive with Dean just moping about.
Over the years I have heard so much praise for 1955's "East Of Eden" that I was certain that this vintage picture was going to be a real high point in the realm of memorable movie experiences.
But, on the contrary - This oppressive tale of serious family dysfunction didn't take long for its trite melodramatics to become a total bore.
What I found to be this picture's biggest deficit was the irksome performance of James Dean as the Cal Trask character.
IMO - Dean almost single-handedly managed to ruin this film's story with his irritating portrayal. He really did.
Ever felt lost?--have trouble finding your place in the world?--feel jealous of, or ignored by, a family member? If you answered yes to any of these questions, beware--the resonance you may feel toward the characters of this film may be so intense, the emotional pull of its story so overwhelming, that at its end you will find yourself exhausted, spent, trembling in its cathartic wake. I find it so every time I see it. As an examination of the terrible undercurrents in family relationships, of adolescent angst and loneliness, of the universal need for love and the awful consequences of its being withheld, it is nearly peerless. Movies that toyed with similar themes, like "The Graduate" or "Rebel Without a Cause," though great films, do not come close to packing the emotional wallop this film delivers.
To a large part, the intensity of the affective response generated by watching "East of Eden" must be attributed to the strength of the performances. No false notes here. Raymond Massey, a truly superb actor who has largely, and undeservedly, been forgotten, gives one of his best performance as the father with a secret, a man with the best intentions in the world, who has nonetheless unwittingly crippled his son Cal with his sometimes harsh criticisms and his favoritism of his brother Aron. Julie Harris is simply wonderful as Abra, a young woman who gradually becomes disenchanted with the "perfect" brother, Aron, finding herself becoming more and more interested in the vaguely frightening, yet vulnerable Cal. Her "speech" near the end of the film to Cal's father is heartrending. Everyone else is fine, from the always dependable Burl Ives to Albert Decker, and Jo van Fleet deserves special mention as the supposedly dead mother. The vehicle which propels the film, however, is James Dean who not only gives the best performance in his all too short career, but one of the best in cinematic history. It is truly amazing to watch him work here. The viewer becomes like putty in his hands, bending and rending our emotions at will. It's a performance not to be missed.
The movie has received criticism because it does not follow the book, and leaves out at least the first two thirds of the novel. "East of Eden" is one of my favorite books, yet I have no trouble accepting this film on its own merits--which are considerable. A movie CANNOT be a book, though there have been several directors who seem blithely unaware of this giving us plodding movies straight-jacketed by their literary source. One cannot judge this movie solely by comparing it to the book, and with each deviation from the source, give it a demerit. I believe this movie is every bit as great as the book--but it is NOT the book. And John Steinbeck himself loved this movie, reportedly saying that the movie was a greater achievement than his book had been. That's a recommendation good enough for me, and should be enough for the lovers of the book. You CAN love both. I do.
Released in 1955 - "East Of Eden" (a nauseatingly over-played melodrama about family dysfunction and sibling rivalry) featured actor, James Dean in his debut on the big-screen.
And, it was here that "method actor" James Dean tried so desperately to emulate his hero, Marlon Brando. But Dean only managed to put in such an annoying, grate-on-your-nerves performance that I found myself cringing every time he showed his face on screen.
And, when it came to the "behind-the-scenes" story - Dean was so uncooperative, and he caused so much aggravated trouble, and he created such an icy air of animosity amongst his fellow actors that these very people swore that they'd never appear in another film with him ever again.
Anyway - In the same year of this film's release - James Dean (24 at the time) would be dead. And with his untimely death he would undeservedly earn the status of becoming a legendary pop culture icon whose screen-charisma would endure for many decades to follow.
Directed by Elia Kazan in 1955 based on the second half of the 1952 novel of the same name by John Steinbeck, this epic drama delves into the life of a wayward young man who, while seeking his own identity, vies for the affection of his deeply religious father against his favored brother.
The underlying theme seems like a biblical reference to the brothers Cain and Abel.
Other theme might be anti-German xenophobia, specifically as wrought against a local German immigrant as resentment about United States entry into World War I grew.
In any case, this film turns out to be one of Kazan's richest films and it stands out as James Dean's excellent, if not best, performance.
A great drama. Mature themes well told.
I liked this DVD. I recommend it for adults only. It is violent and sexual. It is a slower pace movie. The main character, James Dean, effectively demonstrates internal insecurities, volatile emotions, inner confusion. He desperately needs to ground himself; but, does not know how to on his own. He hopes his father will help; but, his father has difficulty doing emotional bonding with anyone. The father is emotional shallow. There is competition with the sibling brother to get the fathers approval and attention. The brothers love each other; but, they have a hard time expresses it to each other. They later compete for the same woman. Verbal and physical conflict is the result. The main character finds out some terrible truths about has mother that abandoned the family. It may tear the family apart facing the hidden truth. The plot is strong. It is well acted.
This edition of the movie DVD East of Eden rates high because of the additional extras disc containing outstanding content on the life of James Dean. Also there is a featurette "East of Eden: Art in Search of Life," the actors' screen and wardrobe tests, and a set of terrific deleted scenes. The movie's extra is a commentary by longtime TIME magazine film critic and author of numerous books on famous actors Richard Schickel of Milwaukee.
Good performances and direction, but yet another case of "the book was better".
james dean was a really big star that burned out way to soon. I thought he was really cool in this movie. wish he was still alive so that I could tell him to his face what a graet guy he was.
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