A Place in the Sun (1951)

A Place in the Sunplace in the sun spanish poster
Directed by George Stevens
Written by Harry Brown and Michael Wilson from a play by Patrick Kearney and the novel An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
1951/USA
Paramount Pictures
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental
#249 of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

Angela: Did you promise to be a good boy? Not to waste your time on girls?

George Eastman: I don’t waste my time.

Such a sad and beautiful movie.

This is a much more romantic version of the Dreiser novel.  George Eastman (Montgomery Clift) was raising singing on street corners by his very religious missionary parents.  His mother’s brother, on the other hand, is enormously wealthy and the owner of Eastman Industries.  George shows up at the factory one day looking for work.  He is hired as a lowly shipping clerk and basically forgotten about. Although fraternization is strictly forbidden by company rules, he takes up with a fellow shipping department employee, Alice Tripp (Shelley Winters).  Before long, they are lovers.

Then his uncle spots George in the shipping department and decides an Eastman should be doing something better.  He asks George to a party at his home to discuss the matter.  There George meets the simply ravishing Angela Vickers (Elizabeth Taylor).  It is love at first sight and soon Angela and George are an item.

1951: Film stars Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift (1920-1966) star in the Paramount melodrama 'A Place In The Sun'.

In the meantime, Alice has discovered she is pregnant.  She is unable to find a doctor to help her out of her predicament and demands that George marry her.  Her demands become most insistent at the very moment when it looks like George has or will soon be accepted as a full-fledged member of the Eastman family and a suitable marriage partner for Angela.

On the day they were to have been married, George takes Alice out for a ride in a row boat.  The boat capsizes and she drowns.  The rest of the movie follows George’s travails up to and including his murder trial.  With Anne Revere, in her last role before her blacklisting, as George’s mother and Raymond Burr as the District Attorney.

shelley-winters-and-montgomery-clift-in-a-place-in-the-sun-1951

This film is the point at which the studio system met method acting.  It deserved all the accolades it received.  The acting is brilliant and the production from the cinematography to the music is stunning.  There may never have been more glorious love scenes than those between Clift and Taylor in this movie.  I felt sorry for every single person in the story by the end.  Recommended.

A Place in the Sun won Academy Awards for Best Director; Best Writing, Screenplay; Best Cinematography, Black-and-White; Best Costume Design, Black-and-White; Best Film Editing; and Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture.  It was nominated in the categories of Best Actor (Clift) and Best Actress (Winters).

Trailer

5 thoughts on “A Place in the Sun (1951)

  1. I only really started noticing Raymond Burr in Rear window and had entirely forgotten he was in this one. I might go back to this one just to spot him.
    This is one of those movies with flawed heroes where you would question your sympathies.

    • Burr is always good. There’s a moment where he slams an oar into a model of the rowboat during the trial that’s really scary! I felt sorry for the hero despite everything.

  2. I recently revisited A PLACE IN THE SUN. It remains a poignant, beautiful film. We are with Clift right to the end, understanding everything. Taylor is magical. You believe the spell that Clift was under, on screen and off. George Stevens was one of the greats!

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