East of Eden is a 1955 American period drama film directed by Elia Kazan, and loosely based on the fourth and final part of the 1952 novel of the same name by John Steinbeck. It is about a wayward young man who, while seeking his own identity, vies for the affection of his deeply religious father against his favored brother, thus retelling the story of Cain and Abel.
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The film stars Julie Harris, James Dean (in his first major screen role), and Raymond Massey. It also features Burl Ives, Richard Davalos, and Jo Van Fleet (also her first screen role), and was adapted by Paul Osborn.
Although set in early 20th century Monterey, California, much of the film was actually shot on location in Mendocino, California. Some scenes were filmed in the Salinas Valley. Of the three films in which James Dean played the lead, this is the only one to have been released during his lifetime.
The film, along with Dean’s other films Rebel Without a Cause and Giant, was named one of the 400 best American films of all time by the American Film Institute. In 2016, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
Take a look at these vintage photos to see portraits of James Dean and Julie Harris together during the filming of East of Eden in 1955.