Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Best Actor 1955: James Dean in East of Eden

James Eden received his first posthumous Oscar nomination for portraying Caleb "Cal" Trask in East of Eden.

East is an okay film, although as an adaptation of the novel it is extremely truncated and some of the characters are poorly reduced especially the mother of Cal and Aron.

James Dean is simply one of the most mannered actors ever. He never stops doing his mannerisms ever through the film. He is moving around in his weird ways. Walking oddly, and looking at the ground constantly for no foreseeable reason, sitting in his own way on the train. He most certainly is over the top as Cal with the way he almost acts like a worm during time in the film. Something very interesting about that is that most actors who would give this sort of performance I and probably many others would not let the actor get away with it. Saying that the actor is just going over the top, and plays the role oddly.

But there is just something about Dean that lets him get away with it. Dean had some sort of certain charisma about him that enabled him to get away with his mannerisms. He some how despite the oddity of everything he does seems natural coming out of him. Still over the top but from Dean somehow it works. A reason perhaps why it works is that the character himself is suppose to be an outcast. Cal is not really suppose to get along with anyone despite seeking an acceptance of some sort, despite believing that he himself is bad. He particularity tries to gain acceptance from his distant father Adam (Raymond Massey), but finds they have trouble connecting. Dean's mannered performance certainly comes into conflict with Massey's much more to the point type of acting, but that actually  adds to their relationship showing a clear disconnection from each other.

Dean I must say is fascinating from beginning to end in the film.  Yes what he does seems odd, and strange at all times, but it does work well. His portrait of the angst ridden young man really is a perfect portrait, because of Dean. Yes it is because of his odd mannerisms, because they just add well to his performance. Odd for sure but I never felt they exactly seemed forced. Somehow Dean finds the way that his strange actions do add to his performance. They make Cal a memorable character and a full realized one. He has his mannerisms but Dean still does not forget to add a certain subtlety to his performance. Not a whole lot but enough so it is not always just over the top. But his over the top scenes do add the power of his performance. Such as when he tries to embrace his father after his father rejects his gift. Many scenes are strong just merely because of Dean performance even if it over the top. Due to Dean this film has one aspect that certainly is hard to forget.


Anonymous said...

I agree...mannered and strangely over the top, but it works.

Allen said...

Glad you liked him! I love James Dean.

Brandon said...

I really want to see this because I didn't really like his performance in "Rebel". His line reading of -- "YOUR TEARING ME APART!" -- in particular made me cringe. I think he's much more iconic for his mere image than his acting talents (which most of the time feel so studied and unauthentic).

Louis Morgan said...

I do believe some of what made people see him as iconic were his odd performances, since it was the angst filled young man that was part of his image, which come from his performance. Since all the mannerisms and such are part of that.

dinasztie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dinasztie said...

I dislike him in this and in general too.