In 1917, on a Salinas, California lettuce producing farm, two brothers Cal (James Dean) and Aron Trask (Dick Davalos) struggle hard to please their very religious father Adam (Raymond Massey). Both have been told that their mother has died and their focus should be on the lord and the blessed bounty their farm can produce.
Aron leads the model life for his father, helping on the farm and courting a lovely young girl named Abra (Julie Harris) who dad approves of. On the other hand is Cal, who has always been known as the bad sibling to his father as his free willed spirit can not allow him to focus. Adam has invested his life savings into his adaptation of transporting his lettuce east via train, packed on ice to insure freshness. But his idea fails, leaving train cars of soaked ruined lettuce, crushing his dreams as well.
Meanwhile, Cal has been watching a mysterious madam in town, Kate (Jo Van Fleet), as he feels a connection to her since she leads a sinful life too. He sneaks in to meet her to confirm his suspicions that she must be his mother. After telling his brother the truth about their mother, he forces Aron to confront her too. Resembling the biblical Cain and Abel, the two brothers come to blows as Cal proves Kate is their mother.
The sheriff Sam (Burl Ives), believes in Cal when no others can, he tells him the way to make money now is by growing beans. The war is on and Aron leaves to serve his country while Cal stays and invests in a bean crop with money he borrowed from his mom. All he can think of is getting the money back for his father loss, so his dad will see the good in him too. He didn't expect to win the heart of Aron's girlfriend Abra. With the family coming apart at the seams, Adam suffers a stroke rendering him useless. It's up to Cal to do what needs to be done to finally prove himself to his dad.
1955 - East of Eden - Cannes Film Festival - International Prize For Best Dramatic Film
1955 - East of Eden - Golden Globe - Best Picture - Drama
1955 - East of Eden - Golden Globe - Special Achievement
Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: Elia Kazan
Writer: Paul Osborn
Producer: Elia Kazan