W: Paul Osborn [based on the
novel by John Steinbeck]
DP: Ted McCord
Ed: Owen Marks
Mus: Leonard Rosenman
James Dean (Caleb Trask), Raymond
Massey (Adam Trask), Julie Harris (Abra Bacon), Richard Davalos (Aron Trask), Jo Van Fleet (Cathy Ames / Kate Trask), Burl Ives (Sam)
The biblical metaphors of John Steinbeck's
original novel get lost in this adaptation, which gets a little too bogged down in soap opera melodramatics of a family in domestic conflict.
James Dean is fittingly moody as a rebellious
adolescent who, against his strict father's wishes, frequently visits his mother, who runs a nearby brothel.
Towards the end of the film, the story evolves
into two brothers fighting over their distant father's affections and a woman coming between them. The performances are strong, but the narrative is quite turgid in places, and the
length could have been trimmed to make the pace a little snappier.
It received a following on its release, mostly
James Dean fans mourning his tragic death, and his performance provided the first of his two posthumous Oscar nominations (the second was for Giant). Jo Van Fleet's performance won
the Best Supporting Actress Oscar.