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East of Eden

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Director: Elia Kazan, Elia Kazan, Elia Kazan, Elia Kazan
1955 / 118min / 35mm

It’s Cain and Abel on the California coast in Kazan’s intensely emotional CinemaScope period drama adapted from John Steinbeck’s 1952 epic of the same name, with James Dean as the black sheep son of a pious widowed farmer who discovers his “deceased” mother is in fact alive and well, and presiding over a Monterey brothel. Van Fleet, in her first film role as the banished matriarch, gives a performance of bitter balefulness undiluted by even a drop of the milk of kindness, her majestic callousness eventually winning her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

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