EAST OF EDEN (1955) C widescreen 115m dir: Elia Kazan
w/James Dean, Raymond Massey, Julie Harris, Jo Van Fleet, Dick Davalos, Albert Dekker
Despite the passage of time, this intense drama still retains its considerable power. Dean (in his first starring film performance) makes a startling impact as Cal, the lonely boy who feels that his father spurns him in favor of his righteous, "good" brother Aaron. (The film was adapted by Paul Osborne from John Steinbeck's novel about a contemporary Cain and Abel story.) His confused and anxious plea to be understood stands as the screen's most eloquent depiction of adolescent angst. Director Kazan also does some of his finest visual work here, with dazzling widescreen images that unfortunately wind up destroyed when "scanned" for small-screen viewing. Harris, Davalos, and Massey turn in memorable performances, as does Van Fleet, who won an Oscar in her film debut for her portrayal of the cold-hearted Kate.