HTF REVIEW: East Of Eden - Two Disc Special Edition (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED).

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Herb Kane, May 26, 2005.

  1. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

    Joined:
    May 7, 2001
    Messages:
    1,342
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    [​IMG]


    East Of Eden
    Two Disc Special Edition





    Studio: Warner Brothers
    Year: 1954
    Rated: PG
    Film Length: 118 Minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1 Enhanced Widescreen
    Audio: DD 5.1
    Color/B&W: Color
    Languages: English & French
    Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
    MSRP: $26.99
    Package: Two discs in a regular (hinged double) Keepcase.





    The Feature:
    To mark the 50th Anniversary of James Dean's death and at the same time, to celebrate his work, Warner Brothers is about to release a boxed set dedicated to the three films in which he starred. As Cal Trask, Jim Stark, and Jett Rink, James Dean may have only starred in three (credited) films but the name he left behind has become an icon of American motion pictures. Two weeks after he completed filming his third film (Edna Ferber's Giant), James Dean died when his Porsche Spyder collided with another car in Cholame, California on September 30th, 1955. The legacy left behind after his untimely death, has remained synonymous with youth, rebellion, romanticism and to be eternally cool. The Complete James Dean Collection will be comprised of three Special Editions and will include - for the first time on DVD - East Of Eden (1955), a new Two Disc Special Edition of Rebel Without A Cause (1955) and a repackage of the 1956 hit film, Giant (in a new Keepcase). The individual Special Editions list for $26.99 while the Collection lists for $69.92.

    [​IMG]

    East Of Eden is set in 1917 just before the U.S. entered into World War I, and portrays the relationship between the insecure and tortured Caleb "Cal" Trask (played by James Dean in his first major role and film) and his dutiful, but favored brother, Aron (played by Richard Davalos). Both Aron and Dean have been led to believe that their mother, Kate (played by Jo Van Fleet) is dead and Aron especially, is convinced that she was some kind of saint - a legacy that couldn't be farther from the truth. Their father, Adam (played by Raymond Massey) is a stern, hardened, self-righteous religious man, with grandiose ideas who lives with his family in Salinas, California. He is a lettuce farmer who experiments with the concept of refrigeration (ice) to prolong his rail shipments. After a failed attempt at a cross-country shipment, Cal sees an opening to capture, or perhaps buy, his father’s love. He makes a painful visit to his mother’s brothel and gets her to loan him $5,000 so he can set up his own business. Investing in bean futures, his new investment venture becomes lucrative when wartime price gouging drives prices sky-high.

    Abra (played by Julie Harris) is Aron’s fiancée, and Cal seems to have a terrifying affect on her. Of course she is fascinated by Dean's walk on the wild side and this just makes her want him all the more. Not only is Cal seeking love and affection from his father, but his relationship with Aron also seems to be slipping away as Abra discovers new feelings for Cal.

    [​IMG]

    The film was directed by Elia Kazan and is an updated re-telling of the Biblical story of rival brothers, Cain and Abel. Writer Paul Osborn's screenplay adapted John Steinbeck's 1952 novel with the same title for this dramatic Warner Bros. film however, the film tells only a small portion of Steinbeck's work, leaving out the childhood of the parents and the Chinese character of Lee.

    James Dean represents the unappreciated son Cal who is downright tormented and vies against his dull, stuffy brother Aron for the affections of their father. Dean's Cal is desperate for his father's love and approval and the fact that he doesn't have it makes him an incredibly angry and troubled young man. It's interesting to note the maligned character of Cal who seems to represent the unlikable and outcast Kazan himself (for naming names before the HUAC Committee in 1952), who eventually becomes the hero of this film. It also marks the only film of James Dean's three major films released before his death.

    [​IMG]

    The Feature: 4.5/5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]



    Video:
    East Of Eden was shot in CinemaScope and WarnerColor and I’d be a LLPOF (liar liar pants on fire) if I told you I didn’t have concerns considering how Giant turned out. While I love Giant as a film, I have some serious concerns as to the DVD that was released two years ago. East Of Eden, while not perfect, is heads and shoulders above the Giant release. The “force field” effect that is so prevalent in the Giant release only really rears its ugly head once at the 18:55 mark when Cal starts throwing ice down the barn chute. The effect is quite evident when his father enters the scene on the top left. Other than that scene, there is only a slight hint of haloing that appears throughout the course of the entire film.

    Colors are bright although I wouldn’t go so far as to call them vibrant. Skin tones looked (mostly) real and accurate. Blacks were quite deep and whites were always clean and crisp.

    The level of image definition was satisfactory and mostly appealing but there was a slight glassiness or waxiness to the image as it wasn’t quite as sharp of other films of the period. Some of the close-ups however, were quite impressive.

    The print appeared to be virtually free of any dust or debris and scratches were basically non existent.

    Sadly, the Two Disc SE of Giant that appears in the Collection is the same version that was previously released.

    Video: 4/5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]



    Audio:
    The disc is encoded with a DD 5.1 track however, the original track has not been included. The track does a pretty good job and is mostly solid.

    The track is whisper clean with no trace of any hiss or other noise, nor does it sound as though its been robbed of any of its high frequencies. Dialogue was always bold intelligible and never became harsh or edgy. The front soundstage is satisfactorily wide although not outstanding and dialogue is anchored front and center. There really isn’t much to say in terms of dynamics or punch.

    Surround information was evident although was employed mostly with the use of music ambiance and an infrequent effect here and there. There was no use of LFE to speak of. Tactfully done.

    Audio: 3.5/5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]



    Special Features:

    Disc One:
    [*] First up is a Commentary By Richard Schickel which is a good effort. Those familiar with other Warner classic titles will have a pretty good idea of what to expect. Mr. Schickel does a good job at keeping much of this scene specific and offers up quite a bit of information relating to the film and its stars.
    [*] The only other feature on disc one is the Theatrical Trailer which is in reasonably good shape. Duration: 2:52 minutes.


    Disc Two:
    [*] Forever James Dean is a documentary that was a Chelsea Communications production from 1988. The special does a god job digging deep into the life and brief career of James Dean. A number of James' friends, family members and peers appear throughout the feature. Duration: 59:44 minutes.
    [*] East Of Eden: Art In Search Of Life takes on more of an analytical route from Steinbeck scholar Susan Schillinglaw, the director of Steinbeck Studies at San Jose State University and film critic Richard Schickel. Tom Steinbeck (John's son) also appears offering up and reflecting on his father's views and memories. Although a number of clips show up throughout, the feature appears to be a new production. Duration: 19:27 minutes.
    [*] Next up is Screen Tests which features the two brothers duking it out in what ends as a pillow fight. This was shot in B&W. Duration: 6:18 minutes.
    [*] Wardrobe Tests features 8 various tests from a number of cast-members. These can be played individually or by using the "Play-All" feature. Duration: 22:15 minutes.
    [*] Next up is a series of Deleted Scenes which are in good condition. Duration: 19:12 minutes.
    [*] 3/9/1955 New York Premiere chronicles the gala event and all of its participants including John Steinbeck, Elia Kazan, Raymond Massey and Jack Warner among many others. Duration: 14:41 minutes.

    Special Features: 4.5/5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    **Special Features rated for the quality of supplements, not the quantity**



    Final Thoughts:
    Director Elia Kazan did a extraordinary job with this film. It is truly cinematic and grand in every sense of the word. Amazingly, he captures the moods and emotions perfectly during the many conversations with Dean and Massey capturing key emotional moments. Kazan was able to elicit Dean’s nervous and shy mannerisms which make him a lovable character, leaving the viewer feeling that he’s simply misunderstood. Cal’s journey is no different from any other young man who seeks the love and approval from his father and there is no finer example of a film which chronicles that search. The movie is a beautiful sight. Six months after the film’s release, Dean was dead at the age of 24. East Of Eden is a story of explosive passions and Elia Kazan crafted a film of extraordinary power.

    It was a long time coming but the wait was worth it. Warner’s East Of Eden shows up looking and sounding terrific and the disc is trimmed with a healthy assortment of special features to round out the package nicely. Fans of James Dean and the film should be quite impressed.

    Overall Rating: 4.5/5 (not an average)
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Highly Recommended…!!




    Release Date: May 31st, 2005

    [​IMG]




    The Complete James Dean Collection
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Eddie W.

    Eddie W. Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 1999
    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Thanks for a great review, I'm absolutely salivating over this release. This is one of my favorite films but I've never seen a decent presentation of it. Those screen caps look gorgeous.

    Almost 20 mintutes of deleted scenes?!
     
  3. Bradley-E

    Bradley-E Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2003
    Messages:
    1,019
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    This box set is going to be one of this years BEST DVD Collections. I'm so glad to FINALLY have EAST OF EDEN. It has been on my list of WANTS since DVD's started.

    I love Leonard Rosenman's score for this and REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE.
     
  4. RyanZ

    RyanZ Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2005
    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Was the overture included on this release?
     
  5. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

    Joined:
    May 7, 2001
    Messages:
    1,342
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0


    Yes it is.
     
  6. ScottR

    ScottR Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2000
    Messages:
    2,646
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Isn't this supposed to be wider than 2.35:1?
     
  7. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 1998
    Messages:
    33,007
    Likes Received:
    8,067
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    Michigan
    Real Name:
    Robert

    I would think with a stereo track, a CinemaScope film would be 2.55:1 ratio.






    Crawdaddy
     
  8. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

    Joined:
    May 7, 2001
    Messages:
    1,342
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0

    It is indeed 2.55:1 - my apologies. Correction made.
     
  9. Jefferson

    Jefferson Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2002
    Messages:
    979
    Likes Received:
    20
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Thanks for the info, Herb.

    Actually, i love the film so much i wanted
    more extras...or rather, wanted the extras to last longer than they did.

    Boy, that warner color sure wasn't great.
    the whole film has that "yellowed" look, but still looks better than i've ever seen it.
     
  10. Jing_B

    Jing_B Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2005
    Messages:
    156
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Big Problem Here!!! I just watched East of Eden on DVD and was shocked with the soundtrack. I set my DVD player to Dolby Digital and weirdly, the sound was full of hiss and the voices are either Extremely High or Extremely low. But when I switched my player to Stereo, incredibly the soundtrack sound as it should be, strong and majestic. Is this a probelm with the DVD or is it my DVD player?
     
  11. ScottR

    ScottR Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2000
    Messages:
    2,646
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I thought the right hand side of the frame looked out of registration and blurry, especially during the opening credits. It was hard to make out some of the letters. Is this my television, a problem with early Cinemascope, or the transfer?
     
  12. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 1998
    Messages:
    33,007
    Likes Received:
    8,067
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    Michigan
    Real Name:
    Robert
    I've always considered this film the best of the three Dean films. His performance in East of Eden is one of most enjoyable performances I've witnessed from an actor. The musical score from this film is among my favorites. I'm very pleased with the dvd presentation and thought the video quality was very good considering past problems we've had with Warner Color and the dvd format. I watched the entire dvd twice, with and without the commentary and didn't notice any trouble visually or audio wise with the dvd presentation. I thought the bonus material was excellent, but it's too bad that Paul Newman's screen test wasn't included in the screen tests. For years, I always wondered how much James Dean's tragic death affected other actors careers like Paul Newman and Steve McQueen.






    Crawdaddy
     
  13. Sean A

    Sean A Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2003
    Messages:
    177
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I was also hoping to see the Paul Newman screen test as well. I remember seeing a few stills from it in a book about Dean .
    But besides taht, I think the disc was wonderful.
     
  14. Jing_B

    Jing_B Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2005
    Messages:
    156
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The sound should be stereo then?
     
  15. Drew Salzan

    Drew Salzan Second Unit

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2004
    Messages:
    290
    Likes Received:
    22
    Trophy Points:
    110


    You can see it on the HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU Documentary found as a bonus disc with the Warner's Legend Collection box set.
     
  16. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 1998
    Messages:
    33,007
    Likes Received:
    8,067
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    Michigan
    Real Name:
    Robert

    Thank you for that heads up.







    Crawdaddy
     

Share This Page