East of Eden, based on the novel by John Steinbeck
A different version of this note and thoughts on other books are available at:
- https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEVa4_CsRStSBBDo4uJWT8BSWtTTn0N1E and http://realini.blogspot.ro/
Both this film and the original material are considered important achievements.
The film is included on the list of
- New York Times' Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made
From the start I must say that I am not thrilled.
But it was the same for the book.
And having read again the Grapes of Wrath and after being less than overwhelmed, it is clear now that I am biased.
John Steinbeck's sympathy for the communist ideas make me dislike the author.
Nevertheless, East of Eden has a lot in common with the famous Bible story of Abel and Cain and nothing to do with the Kapital.
James Dean was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role.
He has the role of Cal Trask.
And he got the part because Montgomery Clift turned it down.
I have learned this from a fabulous book on Hollywood:
- Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman
From this fantastic work I have learned that
- Dustin Hoffman was obnoxious on the set on Marathon Man...
- Humphrey Bogart used to whine about the parts that the others had and he did not
- Robert Redford behaved abominably on two occasions, once after the launching of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and the second when preparing for All The President's Men.
The careers of two other great actors have been launched by the absence of Montgomery Clift:
- Paul Newman in Somebody Up There Likes Me and
- Marlon Brando with On The Waterfront.
Elia Kazan is an excellent director, if a controversial figure.
He is the director of masterpieces like:
- A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront and East of Eden
But when he was celebrated, with the occasion of an Academy Award Ceremony, many in the audience stood up to honor him, while others sat down in protest.
During the years of the infamous Black List, Elia Kazan has opted to collaborate with the witch hunters.
Another issue that I have with this film regards James Dean.
Although acclaimed and celebrated, he is not a favorite of mine.
His style is rather awkward.
Granted, the few characters he had the chance to portray before his violent and tragic end are outre and haunted.
It is very likely a case where I am wrong and the actor renders exactly what is expected of him.
There are some memorable lines in a story that is originally written by a winner of the Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes.
- "Man has a choice and it's a choice that makes him a man"