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A Place in the Sun

The Oscar-winning adaptation of Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy – one of postwar Hollywood’s most affecting love stories.

USA 1951
Directed by George Stevens
With Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, Shelley Winters, Anne Revere, Raymond Burr
Running time 122min
Format Digital
Certificate PG

A BFI Release

Both George Stevens’ finest film and a highpoint in the careers of Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor, this adaptation of Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy is one of postwar Hollywood’s most affecting and genuinely adult love stories.

The winner of six Oscars (for direction, screenplay, cinematography, score, costumes and editing), it centres on George Eastman (Clift), a shy, slightly awkward Midwesterner who arrives in California hoping for a job in his uncle’s factory. He’s in luck, and though he secretly starts dating assembly-line worker Alice (Shelley Winters) against company rules, he’s soon promoted. That wins him a tentative foothold in the world of his wealthy relatives – where he meets and immediately falls for beautiful socialite Angela (Taylor)... Stevens’ eye for detail is evident in the deft delineation of social divisions and the meticulous characterisation, but what distinguishes the film is the way he homes in – with ravishing close-ups and lingering dissolves suggestive of inexorable destiny – on the rapt, languid, irresistible desire that drives the story. While all the performances are excellent, Taylor and Clift were never better – or lovelier – and their scenes together are memorable for their wounded beauty.

Geoff Andrew


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