“James Dean’s character Cal Trask is fighting to get the love of his father, and he’s both repelled by his father and rebels against his father, while at the same time needing his approval and love so badly. And that really parallels James Dean’s own life and personal circumstances. So, what you’re seeing in EAST OF EDEN is a very personal performance by James Dean. And I just felt like that personal aspect is also very, very much related to the personal aspect of THE ROOM.”
– James Franco, THE DISASTER ARTIST actor/director, and curator of this November’s EVERYBODY BETRAY ME: Films That Inspired Tommy Wiseau’s THE ROOM and James Franco’s THE DISASTER ARTIST
James Dean may best be remembered in popular culture for his role in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE, but it’s his role here Elia Kazan’s adaptation of John Steinbeck’s novel that initially catapulted him to stardom — and it very well may be his best among the trilogy of starring roles that minted the actor’s image as Hollywood’s patron saint of tortured angst and icon of cool.
Dean stars as Cal, a wayward son desperate to prove himself more worthy over his seemingly favored brother, Aron (Richard Davalos), to their austere and religious father (Raymond Massey). It’s only a loose adaptation of Steinbeck’s novel, but a pretty firm retelling of another, older story: Cain and Abel — but set against the backdrop California’s Salinas Valley in the time leading up to World War I.
One of Kazan’s most richly rendered films and his first foray into CinemaScope, EAST OF EDEN is a beauty to behold on the big screen. It oozes color and mood. So does Dean. Do yourself a favor and come saturate yourself in this electric and atmospheric classic.
“Not only one of Kazan’s richest films and Dean’s first significant role, it is also arguably the actor’s best performance.”
Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Time