Before the thread gets derailed, I'd like to share a few quotes from Richard Davalos about the time he spent making East of Eden with James Dean. These quotes are from The Mutant King by David Dalton. I wish I had more quotes to add, but I just don't have time to look everything up. Sorry. But, here are a few sweet contributions from Davalos...
Oh, and I should say - concerning the screen tests between the two actors - it was very important to Kazan that their brotherly relationship felt real to the audience. However, the homosexual undertones were too apparent. Davalos never denied those claims and even agreed. Kazan made Jimmy and Richard live together for a couple of months to build up tension. I can only imagine how uncomfortable that would have been for both of them, but at least they got along! Davalos was a gentle person and generally happy. Very affable. Dean, on the other hand, at times could be sullen, quiet and dark. William Bast, Jimmy's closest friend and confidant would later elaborate more on his personality and how difficult it was to live with him, but that's another story for another thread on another day...
"Every morning we would run into the john and rub our make-up off", said Dick Davalos. "Jimmy taught me how to rub our faces here and there so they wouldn't notice. I don't think we had any make-up on at the end of the day."
"Gadge's (Kazan's) genius is that even before the actors knew each other, he knew how they would react to each other," Dick said. "It was like chemistry. As a unit, this was the singularly most important event in my life. It was a mind blower, truly."
"We were so into those roles, me and Jimmy...it took me two years to get over the part."
"Jimmy and I got very close during the testing, Dick continued, "and did the black and white bedroom test to see how it would work. I stayed at Jimmy's house the night before that test so we could work most of the night. Sure the test we did had homosexual undertones, but no one has ever said it before, though some people reacted wildly to it when they saw the rushes. That's why it was never put into the film. During East of Eden Jimmy and I shared a one-room apartment over the drugstore across the street from Warner Bothers. And we were Aron and Cal to the teeth. It crept into our social life. He would do something and I would reject him, and he would follow me down the street about twenty paces behind. I went through many numbers, baby, but it was worth it."
"Jimmy was always improvising and he cried a lot during the movie," said Davalos. "He loved to do that and he could do it very well. Most of the time Kazan would just let him go through with it and then carry on with the scene. But in the birthday scene Kazan left it in, and it really worked there."
"The worst scene for me to do in the entire movie, " Dick said, "was when we have an argument and Cal hits me. Jimmy didn't really hit me, but it was so real...and I believed he hated me, I believed he hit me, because it was real for him too. I went off the set after the take and cried and cried for about four hours, I was so upset. Julie Harris had to come over and try to calm me down."
"We all play that f***ing game where we can be our own worst enemies. We can destroy ourselves, and Jimmy had that in him too. And he got caught at it."
In closing, I find this paragraph from the book quite touching and very truthful:
James Dean as Cal Trask was the pivotal subject of all reviews. The rest of the cast is lumped together and identified only with their role: Julie Harris as "the country coquette," Raymond Massey "still playing the Lincoln we all know and love" and Jo Van Fleet as the "cold and vengeful" mother. Dick Davalos suffers most; although he played opposite Jimmy, he is rarely mentioned and in some cases is completely ignored. Dick becomes invisible when the story ends because he, like Aron, is the forgotten brother. Though we blame Cain, we follow him out of the garden and into the cities and, as his descendants, keep him alive in our legends.