Monday, April 6, 2009

A Place in the Sun


Truly a great movie, not only technically but artistically. It concerns the low-class boy George Eastman who falls in love with upper-class beauty Angela Vickers. However, George has gotten pre-Angela working-class girlfriend Alice Tripp pregnant. Since the Eastmans are a high-class family in the region George is now working, Alice threatens to tell all if he doesn't marry her. Gradually, the idea of murdering Alice grows in George's mind, and he takes her out on a boat to drown her (she cannot swim). He decides, however, that he cannot go through with it, but, Alice stands up and walks toward George, and the boat tips over and she drowns.

George basically acts the way a murderer would act...he doesn't report the crime, he lies about where he was, etc. Alice's body is found, foul play is suspected, George is arrested and tried, and George is found guilty. As he is about to be sent to the electric chair, the film reaches an emotional resolution. A priest tells George that there is one way for him to really judge whether he is guilty or not. During the one moment when he could have saved Alice, did he think of Alice or Angela? It is understood that Angela was the one on his mind. So, he approaches his death resigned to fate and aware that he is a murderer, if not technically, but essentially.

The only thing that keeps this movie from being truly enjoyable is Montgomery Clift. I like Monty Clift a lot, but all the bad things that happen to his character make this a depressing fare. George Eastman is also a total idiot. Honestly, I like melodramatic, tragic movies but this is just too downbeat. It might could get away with being sad if it was fast-paced and exciting, but instead you are introduced to characters you like and watch them end up dead and unhappy. It's a good film, but not very watchable.

Anyway, Elizabeth Taylor looks great in this movie. Probably the best she's ever looked. However, I feel sorry for anyone whose beauty peaks at seventeen.

Rating: 8/10


Kate Gabrielle said...

I read on the blog 24 frames last week the Gloria Grahame was being considered for Shelley Winter's role- wouldn't that have been interesting?

Anyway, though, I agree that it's a good movie albeit very depressing!

Sarah said...

I just watched this a few weeks ago, and boy was it depressing! I agree that it could have been a bit more watchable if it was fast paced, but it's slow and sad. It's a great movie though...I love Liz and Monty (although I hated his character..bah).

Your reviews are excellent! I look forward to reading more :D

Merriam said...

@ Kate Gabrielle: Thanks for commenting. It would have been interesting to have had Gloria Grahame in the role, but she was maybe too pretty. I even thought Shelley Winters wasn't dowdy enough--far from glamourous, but if someone in real life looked like that they wouldn't be considered ugly.

@ Sarah: Thank you very much! And I agree, George Eastman was a thoroughly dislikable character. Perhaps have a likable actor play him was an intended contradiction.