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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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Writers:

(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 book only JOHN STEINBECK could write so raw! The picture only ELIA KAZAN could film so real! 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:

Language:

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

In the original take of the roof scene, James Dean crawled through the window into Julie Harris's bedroom where he crouches beside her while she sleeps, fondling her slipper like a fetishist. That part was cut from the film, as was another highly eroticized scene between the two brothers in their room. See more »

Goofs

Near the beginning of the movie after Cal climbs up on the train, the position of the sleeves around his neck changes between shots. Also the long shot shows him covering his arms with the jumper, but in the close shot his arms are still outside. See more »

Quotes

[refusing Cal's gift of money]
Adam Trask: If you want to give me a present, give me a good life. That's something I can value.
See more »

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 September 30, 1955 (1977) See more »

Soundtracks

Ain't She Sweet
(1927) (uncredited)
Music by Milton Ager
Played when Cal is at the shooting gallery
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Excellent Story With Characters Who Aren't Always Who They Seem
7 March 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Wow, what an impressive screen debut for a 24-year-old. That was the famous James Dean, here in his first of three starring roles before death took him at a tragically young age. Just as impressive, however, is the overall performance of the rest of the cast, including lesser-known Richard Davalos, who also was making his movie debut.

The most impressive person connected to this movie, however, was director Elia Kazan who not only excelled directing this film but - in the same year - directed "On The Waterfront." Now, that's not a bad year of work!

"East Of Eden" is billed as a modern-day story of "Cain and Abel," between good and bad brothers with one of them feeling rejected by his father. The small Biblical account of the two brothers only mentions an offering they both gave God and then saying the brother whose offering wasn't accepted went out in a fit of jealousy and killed the other.

True, the "offering" by "Cal" (Dean) and its rejection by his dad "Adam" (Raymond Massey) leads to a climactic scene near the end of the film, but - this is just an assumption - most people viewed this simply as a story between "good" and "evil" pertaining to Dean and Davalos' characters.

I didn't see either of those guys as either the "good" or "bad" brothers. In fact, this film story is unusual in that every main character's personality begins in one direction and, as the film progresses, ends in almost the opposite. Nobody is as they first seem.

"Cale Trask" is shown early on to be a totally rebellious and immature loser who commits a few stupid acts of vandalism and has a desire to be a loner. As the film goes on, we see a softhearted guy who needs and desires love and companionship like everyone else. The fact he only had one parent, and that one didn't seem to love him, has messed his mind up a great deal.

Meanwhile, his older brother "Aron" (Davalos) is pictured as the kind, dependable, levelheaded guy who has a nice sweetheart who he plans to marry very soon. "Aron" has always made his dad proud which makes Cale jealous and bitter (hence, the Cain/Abel analogy.) In the last third of the film, however, Aron's personality reveals some dark, selfish traits and he isn't so "good" anymore.

Julie Harris plays "Abra," who begins as a sweet, likable and trustworthy person but in the end proves insincere in her "ready to marry" and "I'm in love with Aron" remarks as her feelings develop for the younger brother. She does a nice job at the end, however, helping Cale reconcile with his ailing dad.

The fourth major player, the father of the two boys, is portrayed - at least by Cale - as man who has played favorites with his sons and is more of a businessman than a loving father. However, we see later that he is not a bad guy at all. He is happy to praise his younger son when merited, is quick to forgive but, like a lot of fathers in "the old days," I believe, had a hard time outwardly expressing love for his children despite, in his heart wanting the best for them.

The fifth major character in the film, "Kate," has the least amount of lines but is the most powerful figure in the movie. She's the mother who abandoned her kids when they were babies and left her husband because she "didn't want to be tied down to a ranch." Wow, Thank God our mothers didn't have that selfish attitude! She's pictured as a very hard, bitter woman who has made a success of herself and to hell with everyone else. However, once again, as the story unfolds, we see an opposite side. Cale, checking rumors she was in the area, sought her out and discovered she, indeed, was his mom. (Nobody in the Trask family knew she lived nearby, with the dad telling the kids she was dead rather than risk hurting their feelings.). Anyway, later she surprises us by softening up and loaning Cal $5,000 for a business venture to help him and help bail out his dad. That amount of money is equal to at least $100,000 today, so it's a generous, kind person who would say "okay" to that monetary request. The more she speaks, the softer she sounds, even if she wouldn't want to admit it.

The only character I wish had a bigger role was "Anne," played by Lois Smith, who was beautiful and had an intriguing role that I thought would amount to more. I'm glad to see that she is still acting on a regular basis today.

Overall, it's a solid drama with complex characters who make you reflect about them long after you view this. I don't know why it took so long for me to finally see this movie, but I was impressed. (May I recommend the two-disc, special-edition DVD?). This movie is wonderfully directed, acted and photographed. I've only seen it once (last night) and I am not in love with the film (yet), but I am surprised it only garnered one Academy Award. I think it deserved more.


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