East of Eden (1955)
East of Eden (1955)
East of Eden (1955)
East of Eden (1955)
East of Eden (1955)
East of Eden (1955)

Film Studies

Cinema Classics Seminar:
East of Eden

Wednesday, June 21, 2023, 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm  
Instructor: Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Deputy Director, BMFI

East of Eden (1955), starring James Dean (in his first lead role), Julie Harris, Jo Van Fleet, and Raymond Massey, is of a piece with much of director Elia Kazan’s other work from the era, including On the Waterfront, Baby Doll, A Face in the Crowd, and Wild River. All of these films showcase powerful performances by groundbreaking method actors, feature characters left behind by the rising tide of progress (such as it is), and depict particularly American settings.

Each of these films also deals with a moral quandary of sorts, though only East of Eden can claim to have its roots firmly planted in a biblical story, namely that of Cain and Abel. While the allegory isn’t perfect, screenwriter Paul Osborn’s thoughtful adaptation of John Steinbeck’s very personal 1952 novel—set in his hometown of Salinas, California, in 1917—helps the most germane aspects make their way to the screen.

Kazan, who had been friends with Steinbeck since they collaborated on Viva Zapata!, was deeply invested in the picture, as well. He said, “East of Eden is more personal to me; it is more my own story. One hates one’s father; one rebels against him; finally, one cares for him.” Kazan excelled at turning personal stories into vibrant and memorable films, and this one is no exception. Join us to learn about what lies east of Eden.

Are you interested in “just” seeing this movie? Visit the public screening page here.

Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. All students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, those in attendance receive a ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink. Please note: the screening associated with this seminar will be open to the public, as well.

Please email BMFI Programs and Education Coordinator Jill Malcolm with any questions.



Course Information

$25 for members, $35 for non-members


  • Wednesday, June 21 · 6:30 pm

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