Sunday, April 01, 2007

Brothers Keeper

Movie: East of Eden (1955)
Setting: The Monetary to Salinas area of northern California; 1917

This Elia Kazen helmed adaptation of the John Steinbeck novel represents 1/3 of the James Dean cannon. Dean's performance in the film is ample demonstration of his talent, had he lived he could well have dominated cinema for decades as a cross between Paul Newman and Marlon Brando. However it seems the young man may have been destined to pass early, troubled and moody he is rumored to have been both a promiscuous bisexual and a masochist prone to cutting himself. However all of that may have been why he was such an intense performer, and why he worked so well in this clever twist on the story of Cain and Abel. As for Raymond Massey, in addition to a memorably strong performance, he would not be surpassed in cinema as a man obsessed with refrigeration until Harrison Ford in The Mosquito Coast. I loved the look of this film.
Included among the special features is a cheaply made 1988 documentary entitled: Forever James Dean, that uses the same tribute song three times.
Factoid: Dean tormented religious conservative Massey on the set with profanity's, so as to illicit a more powerful performance from the oft staded actor.


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