East of Eden is one of these films that has been unfairly lost in the space of time, with the myth of one of the stars being bigger than the film. This therefore means that many people have missed out on actually sitting down and witnessing some of the best acting from the 50s 'golden era'. James Dean gives one of the most striking performances I have ever seen-truly inspiring. The story centres around Cal, played by Dean, who is forever in his brother's shadow, and who desperately wants the approval of his father. When he finds out he has been lied to all his life, and that his mother isn't dead but in fact runs a brothel in a nearby town, he causes havoc for the whole family. His intriguing relationship with his brother's girlfriend (played by Julie Harris) is sensitive and innocent, and both actors portray this excellently. All the supporting characters give great performances, all bouncing off each other, and it is in scenes between cal and his brother, and cal and his mother that this is clear. The most striking piece of acting is when (not to give too much of the plot away) Cal finds out that something he had been working on for a long time as a gift for his father was not wanted and his father once again shuns him. Dean crumbles visibly in front of the audiences eyes and clings to his father in a desperate plea to be loved. It is marvellous, and literally had me crying hysterically. The film can be a bit slow moving at times (as to be expected when a lot of the film centres around the farming profession) but Kazan directs his cast brilliantly, making for some stunning scenes, visually.
I urge you to see this film, but try to put to the back of your mind Dean's fate and the myth that surrounds him-it is enjoyable as a piece of A-star quality acting that could teach actors around today a lot.