Style Notes from East of Eden

James Dean is probably most famous for rocking a white shirt/jeans/black leather jacket combo from Rebel Without A Cause (1955) but I absolutely loved how he looked in big screen adaption of John Steinbeck's masterpiece East of Eden (1955). At first I approached the book (and therefore the film) quite cautiously because I didn't enjoy Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath" (1939) much–for me reading southern accents and going through all those apostrophes gave me a headache–though I duly applaud his efforts for writing in the vernacular. Though I was not able to stomach it, the type of dialogue gave the novel much authenticity that the reader is able to commiserate with the Okies' struggle for survival and their pursuit of the American dream.  To my surprise, though I am not familiar with the original Cain and Abel biblical story, I liked "East of Eden" (1952)–not because we only had to read the second half of the book or anything. Even though I had not seen a single James Dean before this one, I was wary of him. I was afraid that because James Dean is so hyped up, he may not live up to my expectations. Boy was I was wrong as he proved to be so much more than just a pretty face. Not to say that he completely blew me away like Marlon Brando did as Stanley Kowalski in The Streetcar Named Desire (1951) but I was pleasantly surprised and now look forward to watching Rebel Without A Cause. Here James Dean portrays Cal, who is the Cain of the story. Find the synopsis here.

The only two suits he wears in the film which I frankly don't think looks all that great on him. The suits are way too bulky and baggy on him though it might be in line with the looks of the day circa 1917.

He however rocks the white shirt supremely well. The shirts just fit his frame quite nicely unlike the suits. Now of course comes my favourite sweater and shirt combination...

It's amazing how he pulled it with such aplomb mostly because it can easily look out of character and overly stuffy. On him, everything looks rather relaxed, smooth and even–dare I say–badass. I think it's not just because oh it's just James Dean and that he's very easy on the eyes, but rather also because its such a light pastel combo which tends to lend a rather youthful air to things.

I will finish with this scene of Cal with Abra. Unfortunately since I saw this film all too long ago (a little more than a year ago), my memory of what the exchange between them was about is shaky at best. Regardless, James Dean looks fantastic here and the colours of the shirt and dungarees work nicely with his complexion. How does Dean pull off the dungarees without looking like a little boy is beyond me. It pains me that East of Eden was one of only three films that were released before he died. I can only imagine what an illustrious film career he would have had in Hollywood had he not die at the young young age of twenty-four.


English Muse said...

Wow..what a fantastic post!! I adore your blog. You had me with the tophat!

Justyna said...

one of my favorite movies.... i can't wait for winter and movie marathons!