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>
The film's premiere, at New York's Astor Theater, also served as the first in a long line of benefit events organized to help pay for the purchase and renovation of the newly acquired home of The Actors Studio, which had itself provided arguably the film's three most powerful performances, courtesy of James Dean, Julie Harris, and Jo Van Fleet, as well as strong supporting turns from Lois Smith, Barbara Baxley, and Lonny Chapman (and to whom Warner Brothers prez Jack L. Warner had generously offered the entire proceeds of the New York premiere). The celebrity ushers on hand included Margaret Truman, Arlene Francis, Jayne Meadows, Marjorie Steele (aka Mrs. Huntington Hartford), Roberta Peters, Carol Channing, Eva Marie Saint, and... oh yeah, Marilyn Monroe. Moreover, the event's organizer, Morton Gottlieb, worried that patrons would balk at the hefty fee charged for just a movie, organized a lavish post-screening party featuring free entertainment, including Channing, accompanied by 'Jule Styne', singing "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" (Gottlieb having failed in his attempt to persuade Miss Monroe to reprise her hit from 1953's Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)), composer 'Harold Arlen (I)' performing a piano medley, a song composed for the occasion, performed by its authors, Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz, and, last but hardly least, a young and still little known Sammy Davis Jr. (less than four months after the near-fatal auto accident which had cost him his left eye, and more than one year before he'd make his official Broadway debut in "Mr. Wonderful"), here making his Big Apple downtown debut and bringing down the house in the process. See more »
Aron's hair changes from the shot when the sheriff is on the Albrecht's porch (just after the fight) to the next, when he asks Abra "Where were you?" See more »
I've been jealous all my life. Jealous, I couldn't even stand it. Tonight, I even tried to buy your love, but now I don't want it anymore... I can't use it anymore. I don't want any kind of love anymore. It doesn't pay off.
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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 »
Excellent Story With Characters Who Aren't Always Who They Seem
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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