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East of Eden (1955)

PG | | Drama | 10 April 1955 (USA)
A wilful young man contends against his brother for the attention of their religious father while reconnecting with his estranged mother and falling for his brother's girlfriend.

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(novel), (screen play)
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 12 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Anne
Harold Gordon ...
Gustav Albrecht
Nick Dennis ...
Rantani
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Storyline

In the Salinas Valley, in and around World War I, Cal Trask feels he must compete against overwhelming odds with his brother Aron for the love of their father Adam. Cal is frustrated at every turn, from his reaction to the war, to how to get ahead in business and in life, to how to relate to estranged mother. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The searing classic of paradise lost. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic elements and some violent content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

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Release Date:

10 April 1955 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

John Steinbeck's East of Eden  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Perspecta Sound encoding) (35 mm optical prints)| (35 mm magnetic prints) (RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

(WarnerColor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Final film of prolific bit-player Harry Cording who died before the film's realease. See more »

Goofs

The film is set in 1917, but the hairstyles of both Cal and Aron are both obviously contemporary hairstyles of young men in the 1950s. See more »

Quotes

[Abra pleads with Adam to reconcile with his son]
Abra: Mr. Trask, it's awful not to be loved. It's the worst thing in the world. Don't ask me - even if you could - how I know that. I just know it. It makes you mean, and violent, and cruel. And that's the way Cal has always felt, Mr. Trask. All his life! Maybe you didn't mean it that way - but it's true. You never gave him your love. You never asked for his. You never asked him for one thing.
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Crazy Credits

Cards during opening credits: In northern California, the Santa Lucia Mountains, dark and brooding, stand like a wall between the peaceful agricultural town of Salinas and the rough and tumble fishing port of Monterey, fifteen miles away. AND "1917 Monterey, just outside the city limits" See more »

Connections

Featured in American Masters: James Dean: Sense Memories (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles
(1919) (uncredited)
Music by James Kendis, James Brockman and Nat Vincent
Played when Cal is throwing at the bottles
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Powerhouse Film, Powerhouse Performances
2 June 2004 | by (Topeka, KS) – See all my reviews

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.


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