When A Place in the Sun was shown on cable TV recently, I almost gave it a pass. Way too old a movie, I thought, and probably a waste of my time. But I ended up viewing it anyway as there was nothing else great to watch – to my surprise I quickly became drawn into the lives of the three main characters so expressively portrayed by famous actors in a now long-ago era.
Although there was strong characterization, the plot was a bit thin compared to today’s more complex movie productions. The story line basically consisted of three main characters intertwined in a classic love triangle: A poor young man (Montgomery Clift), his pregnant girlfriend (Shelley Winters) and a beautiful rich girl (Elizabeth Taylor) with whom the poor young man falls in love. Would the solution to the young man’s dilemma be murdering the girlfriend so that he could take up life anew in a rich, socialite world? Could he, would he, and did he really go through with that?
Famous actors sharing the screen sixty-two years ago
Soulful looks and some passionate kisses exchanged between a dazzling Elizabeth Taylor and a handsome Montgomery Clift were main elements of this movie. The third person in the triangle, Shelley Winters, was portrayed as a young girl feeling trapped in a low-paying job. Her demeanor was less than cheerful. In fact, she became increasingly cranky and ultimately demanding as the story advanced.
A Place in the Sun was Elizabeth Taylor’s third highly successful movie. She was nothing short of gorgeous in her closely fitted ball gowns, and totally stunning in a bathing suit. Montgomery Clift exuded a certain moodiness that fit the role perfectly. Having the opportunity to see the two stars romantically involved was probably worth the price of a ticket back in 1951 when the movie was released to the public.
It was also interesting to observe a young Raymond Burr playing the aggressive prosecutor during the trial scenes.
According to Wikipedia.org, the 1951 film was a critical and commercial success, winning six Academy Awards and the first ever Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama.
Would I watch it again?
Not likely. Much of the film was murky and shadowy due to its nighttime outdoor scenes around the lake and elsewhere. I also found the ending to be a bit surprising and quite abrupt, leaving me somewhat unsatisfied in the way the plot was brought to a close.
All in all, times have most certainly changed since 1951 regarding certain social issues that played heavily in this film. A Place in the Sun had its place in the spotlight, and probably deservedly so considering the excellent acting by the cast. The film will continue to be shown occasionally on TV movie channels – if you haven’t seen it you may want to check it out for a look at these stars in the early years of their acting careers. The performances by Taylor, Clift and Winters are what still makes this film a true classic even in the 21st century.