Elia Kazan’s East of Eden introduced the world to James Dean, and the young heartthrob’s magnetic brooding – his body, and emotions, veering to and fro like an off-kilter see-saw – is the most arresting facet of this Bible-infused drama (based on John Steinbeck’s novel) about two sons’ strained relationship with their religious lettuce farmer father. Juxtaposed with his upstanding, responsible brother Aron (Richard Davalos, also in his screen debut), Cal (Dean) is the Trask family’s bad seed, a fact his moralizing father Adam (Raymond Massey) never allows him to forget. Desperate for dad’s love but resentful of the old man’s disapproval, Cal acts alternately rebellious and repentant, yet things come to a head when – after discovering that his similarly wicked mother Kate (Jo Van Fleet) is alive and living in another part of town – he attempts to buy his father’s love, only to receive more acidic paternal condemnation. A variation on the Old Testament’s Cain and Abel saga, Kazan’s film achieves an unpredictable urgency via the director’s naturalistic aesthetic, which combines tranquil pacing and an affection for his sunny Salinas Valley, California setting with unaffected dialogue (save for a couple of unnecessarily long-winded moments). But more than anything, this landmark 1955 classic is a showcase for Dean’s searing, gargantuan, force-of-nature performance.