Brick, an alcoholic ex-football player, drinks his days away and resists the affections of his wife, Maggie. His reunion with his father, Big Daddy, who is dying of cancer, jogs a host of memories and revelations for both father and son.
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Elia Kazan first toyed with the idea of casting Marlon Brando as Cal and Montgomery Clift as Aaron, but at 30 and 34 years old, respectively, they were simply too old to play John Steinbeck's teenage brothers. Ironically, the youthful-looking Paul Newman, who was one year Brando's junior, was a finalist for the part of Cal, which eventually was played by Newman's friend James Dean. Dean was seven years younger than Newman. See more »
The playing of a 1927 song in the 1940s ("Ain't She Sweet") is not an anachronism. Playing a 1940's song in 1927 is. "Ain't She Sweet" has been recorded dozens of times since it's introduction, up to 1990. See more »
[Adam gives Cal the bible to read]
Start at the fifth verse. Verse 5.
[Cal begins to read... ]
"I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah."
And I suggest a little slower, Cal. And you don't have to read the verse numbers.
[Cal continues on]
"For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee. And surely in the floods of great waters they ...
[...] See more »
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 »
Elia Kazan deserved his recent honorary Oscar, no matter what political mistakes he may have made. He deserved it because he is one of the supreme artists of the cinema. His ability to draw superb performances from his actors, is coupled with an astonishing ability to depict these emotional states visually, through the use of camera angles, lighting and symbols. "East of Eden" must be seen in the widescreen format to truly appreciate its visual style. It is arresting, sometimes beautiful and always powerful.
Then there are the performances. James Dean's heartbreaking realization of Cal, consumed by jealousy; Jo Van Fleet's magnificent portrayal of his mother; Richard Davalos (why didn't we see more of him on the screen after this film?) innocent, virginal, doomed; Raymond Massey who has never been better in a multi-layered performance; Burl Ives' commanding police chief - and, as usual in a Kazan film, even the smallest part is played to perfection (who'll forget the girl in the brothel or the nurse at the end?). After seeing the film a few times I really appreciate the performance of Julie Harris too. I once thought her a little too mature for the role - but now I see how her reactions to the events really enhance the emotional impact of those events. Kazan allows her to be in frame during some of the most crucial encounters between Cal and his father - and her face tells a million stories. This is a true "supporting" performance - her performance helping Dean realize Cal. Brava Julie!
I'm a lot older now than when I first saw this film - but I still relate so strongly to the communication breakdown and the need for love between father and son. The improvement of my own relationship with my father makes me see the film differently but with no less emotion. Like all masterpieces this film does not date, we just see it differently as we age. This is undoubtedly one of my top five films. How about a theatrical revival? I have never seen it in a cinema. Remember see it in widescreen - not pan and scan.
59 of 87 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?