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A Place in the Sun

April 17, 2011

A Place in the Sun (1951)
Director: George Stevens
Actors: Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, Shelley Winters

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Synopsis: An upwardly mobile young man (Montgomery Clift) is forced into an awkward predicament when he has to choose between the two women in his life.

Review: I was watching A Place in the Sun as homage to the recently deceased Elizabeth Taylor, and it’s ironic because despite having a supporting role, she is easily the best thing about this overwrought Fifties melodrama. Taylor simply exudes beauty, charisma and class – the camera gorges on her – and she makes tenable the film’s necessary hook that Montgomery Clift will sacrifice all for a relationship with her. The film otherwise is fairly patchy – good in the first half as Clift’s place as outsider in the Eastman clan and family business is played out – he’s clad in oversized suits and has a clenched awkwardness about his body language. Once the central cog of the love-triangle between Clift, Taylor and a convincing Shelley Winters is established however, the film drops the interesting social commentary and character studies, for an increasingly hysterical suspense drama that seems to revolve around whether Clift will bump Winters off, and after he seemingly does, there’s the long, obligatory court-case which explains all too neatly the film’s actions and character motivations up to that point. If it wasn’t for Elizabeth Taylor’s sheer luminosity, I wouldn’t have believed A Place in the Sun‘s cautionary moral about being careful what you wish for. (April 2011)

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