Set in the rich farmland of California’s Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families—the Trasks and the Hamiltons—whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel. Here Steinbeck created some of his most memorable characters and explored his most enduring themes: the mystery of identity; the inexplicability of love; and the murderous consequences of love’s absence.
Release Date: March 9, 1955
Release Time: 117 minutes
Julie Harris as Abra Bacon
James Dean as Caleb Trask
Raymond Massey as Adam Trask
Richard Davalos as Aron Trask
Burl Ives as Sam the Sheriff
Jo Van Fleet as Cathy Ames/Kate Trask
Albert Dekker as Will Hamilton
Lois Smith as Anne
Timothy Carey as Joe(uncredited)
Harold Gordon as Gustav Albrecht
Nick Dennis as Rantani
Barbara Baxley as Adam's Nurse (uncredited)
Richard Garrick as Dr. Edwards (uncredited)
Lonny Chapman as Car Instructor (uncredited)
1955 Academy Awards
Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Jo Van Fleet - Won
Best Actor - James Dean - Nominated
Director - Elia Kazan - Nominated
Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) - Paul Osborn - Nominated
Best Motion Picture - Drama - Elia Kazan - Won
Special Achievement Award - Given posthumously for Best Dramatic Actor - James Dean - Won
Best Film - Nominated
Best Foreign Actor - James Dean - Nominated
Most Promising Newcomer - Jo Van Fleet - Nominated
John Steinbeck III was an American writer. He wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939 and the novella Of Mice and Men, published in 1937. In all, he wrote twenty-five books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books and several collections of short stories.
In 1962 Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Steinbeck grew up in the Salinas Valley region of California, a culturally diverse place of rich migratory and immigrant history. This upbringing imparted a regionalistic flavor to his writing, giving many of his works a distinct sense of place.
Steinbeck moved briefly to New York City, but soon returned home to California to begin his career as a writer. Most of his earlier work dealt with subjects familiar to him from his formative years. An exception was his first novel Cup of Gold which concerns the pirate Henry Morgan, whose adventures had captured Steinbeck's imagination as a child.
In his subsequent novels, Steinbeck found a more authentic voice by drawing upon direct memories of his life in California. Later he used real historical conditions and events in the first half of 20th century America, which he had experienced first-hand as a reporter.
Steinbeck often populated his stories with struggling characters; his works examined the lives of the working class and migrant workers during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. His later body of work reflected his wide range of interests, including marine biology, politics, religion, history, and mythology.
One of his last published works was Travels with Charley, a travelogue of a road trip he took in 1960 to rediscover America. He died in 1968 in New York of a heart attack and his ashes are interred in Salinas.
Seventeen of his works, including The Grapes of Wrath (1940), Cannery Row (1945), The Pearl (1947), and East of Eden (1952), went on to become Hollywood films, and Steinbeck also achieved success as a Hollywood writer, receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Story in 1944 for Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat.