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 ... See full summary »
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 (I)', 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 »
In one scene, a band plays "Avalon". The film is set in 1917. "Avalon" was not published until 1920. 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 ...
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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 »
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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