1955 Certificate: pg


James Dean made his unforgettable debut in Elia Kazan's emotionally charged adaptation of John Steinbeck's classic tale of sibling rivalry. It's a reworking of the Cain and Abel tale, with farmboy Dean trying to out-compete his twin brother (the under-rated Richard Davalos) for the affections of their religious-nut father (Raymond Massey). Nice girl Julie Harris has the misfortune to be caught between them, while Jo Van Fleet won an Oscar as the boys' estranged and borderline-deranged mother. A seething cauldron of jealousy, misunderstanding, petulance and rage.


  • Elia Kazan


  • James Dean

  • Raymond Massey

  • Julie Harris

  • Burl Ives

  • Richard Davalos

  • Jo Van Fleet


Based on the powerful, brooding novel by the Nobel Prize-winning author John Steinbeck, this sombre and gripping story of rivalry between two brothers provided the now legendary James Dean with his first major and still most highly regarded acting role.

He gives a brilliant performance, but it was another newcomer, Jo Van Fleet, playing his mysterious mother, who won an Academy Award.

Excellent support from Raymond Massey, Julie Harris and Richard Davalos, who draw their characters to life.

Actions and situations within the tightly-fused screenplay are completely believable - with the possible exception of the father's rejection of his son's money.