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East Of Eden review

James Dean enters the spotlight...

The 1955 film that launched James Dean into his brief, doomed stardom was adapted from a bloated novel by John Steinbeck about two brothers, one bad and one good (Cain and Abel, right?) competing for their dad’s love in 1917 Salinas.

Elia Kazan’s movie version is almost equally turgid and portentous, but catches fire in the clashes between Dean (as the bad brother) and Raymond Massey as his stiff-necked dad.

The two actors loathed each other, and Kazan wasn’t above exploiting their hostility to up the tension. Jo Van Fleet reaped an Oscar as Dean’s estranged mother turned brothel-madam.

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