East of Eden
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This truncated screen version of John Steinbeck's best-seller was the first starring vehicle for explosive 1950s screen personality James Dean, who plays Cal Trask, the "bad" son of taciturn Salinas valley lettuce farmer Adam Trask (Raymond Massey). Although he means well, Cal can't stay out of trouble, nor is he able to match the esteem in which his father holds his "good" brother Aron (Richard Davalos). Only Aron's girlfriend Abra (Julie Harris) and kindly old sheriff Sam Burl Ives) can see the essential goodness in the troublesome Cal. When Adam invests in a… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"John Steinbeck's painful biblical allegory -- Genesis replayed in Monterey, California, circa 1917 -- is more palatable on the screen, thanks to the down-to-earth performances of James Dean as Cal/Cain and Richard Davalos as Aron/Abel."
‑ Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"In short, there is energy and intensity but little clarity and emotion in this film. It is like a great, green iceberg: mammoth and imposing but very cold."
‑ Bosley Crowther, New York Times
"a reaction to our plutocracy's values and a further case for Dean as the sainted figure of rebellion that would fuel the generational schism of the '60s."
‑ Walter Chaw, Film Freak Central
"Kazan had the bad sense to leave out the best parts from the lengthy book."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"Kazan's Biblical allegory has not held up well, but Dean's performance, for which he was Oscar-nominated posthumously, proves why he became a star after his very first film"
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"It's a film of great performances, atmospheric photography, and a sure sense of period and place."
‑ Geoff Andrew, Time Out
"Catches fire in the clashes between Dean (as the bad brother) and Raymond Massey as his stiff-necked dad."
‑ Philip Kemp, Total Film
"East of Eden is set in 1917 but [James] Dean feels completely modern and contemporary, a boy not quite comfortable in his body."
‑ Sean Axmaker, Turner Classic Movies Online
"James Dean's finest performance"
‑ Lori Hoffman, Atlantic City Weekly
"... can be seen as one of the earliest examples of the enshrinement of the unregenerate, semi-nihilistic "attitude" that informed and in part created "rock 'n' roll.""
‑ Philip Martin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
"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 Times
"After testing various performers (including a newcomer named Paul Newman), Kazan went with the unknown Dean, a move that immediately yielded dividends."
‑ Matt Brunson, Creative Loafing
"Fine James Dean vehicle, one of few that put him into immortality."
‑ Steve Crum, Video-Reviewmaster.com
"What could be a better way to spend two hours?"
‑ Brad Laidman, Film Threat
"the real reason that this film has any legs at all (and the ONLY reason that Warner Brothers has released the DVD) rests with James Dean"
‑ John A. Nesbit, Old School Reviews
More reviews for East of Eden on Rotten Tomatoes

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