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>
According to Tom Steinbeck, Raymond Massey looked down his nose at everyone: "Anyone he hadn't done rep with wasn't worth working with." See more »
When Adam Trask is being shown how to operate the car he is going to buy, the mechanic takes Adam to the front of the car to show him how to use the manual hand crank. You can see the boom mic in the reflection of the car's front windshield. See more »
Don't you ever touch her again. I don't trust you. You'e no good. You're mean and vicious and wild, and you always have been. You know it, too, don't you? Father and I have put up with every mean and vicious thing you could think of since you were a child., and we've always forgiven you. But now I don't want you to go near Abra. I don't want you to talk with her. Just stay away from her!
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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 »
The dispute with shoemaker Gustav Albrecht about the war had been cut from the 1955 dubbed release for Germany and Austria. You could only see Albrecht leaving the fair claiming "Can't I say my opinion?", Cal climbing down the Ferris wheel and following Aaron and Albrecht, some fight in front of Albrecht's house and the sheriff appearing. The reason for all this remained totally unclear; the recruiter's speech is cut except for one background line "Join the army!" when Cal and Abra pass by, and you actually don't even get that Albrecht might be of German descent. In most of today's copies the missing scenes are included, distinguishable by the German subtitles. See more »
Top performances for film of Steinbeck's favorite book
Although some of his other books receive more acclaim and readership ("The Grapes of Wrath," "Of Mice and Men," "The Winter of Our Discontent"), John Steinbeck said that "East of Eden" was the novel that he lived to write. Indeed, the moralism of his writing reached broader and deeper in Eden than in any of his other works. The story here is set mainly in Steinbeck's beloved Salinas Valley and Monterey County.
Warner Brothers did a commendable job in bringing the story to life on the silver screen. It condensed a 600-page novel into a two–hour film, yet kept all of the main elements of the drama. The title for the story comes from the Bible. Genesis 4:16 reads, "Cain then left the Lord's presence and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden." The plot of the story is a modern Cain and Abel tale, and it is repeated within succeeding generations.
In the Bible, Cain brought "some of the fruits of the soil" to offer the Lord. Abel brought "the best of the firstlings," or "some of the firstlings and their fat portions." The latter were more pleasing to God. So, Cain did so-so, average, but Abel went out of his way to give the best to the Lord. God didn't love Cain any less -- he was just most pleased with Abel's offering. Yet Cain succumbed to pride, greed, envy, anger and lust.
Most know the story of "East of Eden" or will find other reviews that discuss the plot. So, my remarks here are brief and cover some things not mentioned. Seeing this film again after many years, on a DVD, I had the advantage of extras that included some deleted scenes. I think one inclusion would have made the film perfect – the scene of Cal and Aron in their room after they had argued outside and Cal said that Aron was "the one he wanted" referring to his father's favoritism, as he saw it.
Without that sequence, we see Cal suddenly perking up, pitching in and being Mr. good-guy helping his father. But, there's no real explanation or background to let us know why he would change. I don't know why they deleted that scene – it made the perfect fit and segue with Aron and Cal talking and Aron explaining in a way that Cal could understand. I don't think that would have made the movie too long in itself.
James Dean had the largest role, as Cal, and was the male lead. And, yes, he was a new young and hot star of the time. All of the acting is excellent, including Dean's. But, I think the very best performances in this movie were by Julie Harris as Abra, Jo Van Fleet as Kate, and Raymond Massey as Adam. Richard Davalos, as Aron, wasn't far behind; and Van Fleet's performance was most deserving of the Oscar she won.
James Dean made one more film after this – "Giant," which came out in October 1956. He wasn't alive to see it, because he was killed in a highway accident on Sept. 30, 1955. He had just finished filming for "Giant." That was just five months after "East of Eden" hit theaters. It's interesting to note that the site of Dean's accident was a few miles east of Paso Robles, California. That's at the southern end of the Salinas Valley of Steinbeck's "East of Eden."
Those interested in Steinbeck should enjoy a visit to the National Steinbeck Center. It's a marvelous museum in downtown Salinas, CA.
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