East Of Eden

Director:   Elia Kazan
Year:   1955
Language:   English
Time:   115 minutes

In the Salinas Valley, in and around World War I, Cal Trask feels he must compete against overwhelming odds with his brother Aron for the love of their father Adam. Cal is frustrated at every turn, from his reaction to the war, to how to get ahead in business and in life, to how to relate to his estranged mother. This was the only one of James Dean's films released before his death.

Paul Osborn wrote the screenplay based on the 1952 novel by John Steinbeck.

Nominated for four Academy Awards, including best actor (James Dean) and Best director (Elia Kazan) and received one for best supporting actress (Jo Van Fleet).

Post-film discussion led by Lex Miller.

Rated PG.


The director, Elia Kazan, is notable as both a stage and film director. He is the subject of a recent biography by theater and film critic Richard Schickel, who discussed Kazan's development as a stage director in an Under the Tent lecture at this year's Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown. Kazan directed the original stage version of A Street Car Named Desire and the film version (1951), both with Marlon Brando. Immediately prior to East of Eden, Kazan directed Brando in On the Waterfront. You can view his complete filmography here.

James Dean's early death assured his cult status in American popular culture. You can view a summary of his life and work here.

Stenibeck's novel is a saga of three generations in two parallel families, the Hamiltons and the Trasks, and is over 600 pages long. More information about the book and Steinbeck can be found here.