Review by Doug Cooper
Stars Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, Shelley Winters, Anne Revere, Keefe Braselle, Fred Clark, Raymond Burr, Herbert Hayes, Shepperd Strudwick, Frieda Inescourt
Written by Michael Wilson & Harry Brown
Certification UK U | US PG
Runtime 122 minutes
Directed by George Stevens
This February, London's BFI Southbank pay tribute to tragic heartthrob Montgomery Clift. Most of the actor's movies are showcased in the season including The Search (1948), Red River (1948), The Heiress (1949), I Confess (1953), From Here To Eternity (1953), Raintree County (1957), The Young Lions (1958), Suddenly, Last Summer (1959), Wild River (1960), The Misfits (1961) and Freud (1962).
He was an immensely gifted actor – witness his 10 minute scene in Judgement at Nuremberg (1961), one of the most memorable and moving performances I've ever seen. His brooding and charismatic countenance is probably on best display here though for this new print of his 1951 movie A Place in the Sun. He plays young George Eastman, recently relocated to a new town to work at the mill of his millionaire uncle. He is from the wrong side of the tracks and starts a relationship with co-worker Alice (Winters). But when he is promoted and meets youthful society girl Angela (Taylor ) he is immediately smitten. Soon he is leading a parallel existence, keeping Alice's demands at bay while ingratiating himself into the rich trappings of Angela's coterie.
Clift is excellent as the tormented interloper at sea with his feelings, confused at how his life is spiralling out of control. Taylor, who was only 17 when she made this movie, looks startlingly thin and is believably classy, radiating girlish idealism while Winters is a most convincing plain Jane, frustrated and frightened at being left alone.
A winner of numerous Oscars including Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Cinematography, A Place in the Sun stands up well after 62 years. Obviously the social aspects are all obviously dated but as a strong melodrama it still delivers in a most satisfying way. Based on Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy, George Stevens keeps a firm hand on the proceedings and the result is a sumptuous, absorbing tale that is well worth a look. Excellent.