Classic Film Guide

Place in the Sun, A (1951)

Produced & directed by George Stevens (The More the Merrier (1943)), with a screenplay by Michael Wilson and Harry Brown (Sands of Iwo Jima (1949)), this essential romance drama about forbidden, tragic love (and more) stars two of the most beautiful actors of their time at the peak of their sex appeal, Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor. The excellent cast also includes Shelley Winters, Anne Revere, Fred Clark, Raymond Burr, and even John Ridgely (among others). Clift earned the second of his four (unrewarded) acting Oscar nominations, Winters her first and only lead actress nomination (she would go on to win two Supporting Actress Oscars out of three more nominations). Though producer Stevens lost his Oscar to An American in Paris (1951), director and future Irving G. Thalberg Award winner Stevens took home the gold; he earned a second directing Giant (1956). Writers Wilson & Brown also won as did the film's B&W Cinematography (William Mellor earned his first Oscar on his first Academy Award nomination), Costume Design (Edith Head), Editing (William Hornbeck, It's a Wonderful Life (1946), earned his only Oscar) and Score (Franz Waxman, Sunset Blvd. (1950), who earned his second and last Oscar despite three more subsequent nominations). Added to the National Film Registry in 1991. #92 on AFI’s 100 Greatest Movies list. #53 on AFI’s 100 Greatest Love Stories list.

George Eastman (Clift) is a handsome drifter with ambition. He gets a job at his wealthy uncle Charles's (Herbert Heyes) bathing suit factory where he works a mundane job and meets assembly line worker Alice Tripp (Winters). Even though she's not attractive and he was told not to date anyone at the plant, George has an affair with her. Later, however, George finds what he think will finally be his “place in the sun”. He gets invited to attend one of the parties at his uncle's estate. There he meets a beautiful debutante Angela Vickers (Taylor). Two people who look as good as they do were meant to be together, right? The only problem is that Alice thinks she has a future in George's “climb up the ladder” in his uncle's business herself. Alice tells George that she's thinks she's pregnant from their earlier encounter which leads him to a desperate decision in a boat on a lake with her over Labor Day weekend.

Revere plays George's poor mother, Clark George's defense attorney, Burr the DA, and Ridgely the coroner. Ian Wolfe appears uncredited as Dr. Wyeland.

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