Dir: George Stevens | Writer: Theodore Dreiser (Novel) Michael Wilson, Harry Brown (Screenplay) | Cast: Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, Shelley Winters, Raymond Burr, Anne Revere, Keefe Brasselle | 122mins Drama
A melodramatic film adaptation of Theodore Dreiser’s best seller ‘An American Tragedy’ and a remake of the Josef von Sternberg 1931 version.
What George Stevens lacked in prestige as a director he more than made up for in his shrewd decision to cast a 17-year-old Elizabeth Taylor together with Monty Clift as young lovers across the social divide: Angela Vickers and George Eastman. Their potent sexual chemistry and screen kiss is considered one of the most erotic in Hollywood history especially considering Monty’s homosexuality.
They continued their friendship after the picture and when Liz Taylor pulled Monty from the reckage of his car after the near fatal crash that was to change his career forever, the two became close confidantes despite an age gap of thirteen years.
But Shelley Winters was not so happy cast as George’s needy and downmarket girlfriend, Alice Tipps, and took a long time to get over this role even though she was nominated for best actress for her performance. In the event, the film went on the win six Oscars
and George Stevens won Best Director for the outing. The best actress award that year went to Vivien Leigh for A Streetcar Named Desire.
Elizabeth Taylor is absolutely enchanting in her portrayal of society rich kid Angela Vickers and although many critics say the story is out of date with its societal divides, I would argue that there are plenty of Anglela Vickers and Alice Tipps around in today’s world of social extremes and the same type of spoilt young woman is still in existence, sadly lacking the poise and grace that Liz gave to the role in 1951. Her “White Lilac” dress became a fashion sensation overnight. There also a convincing turn from a young Raymond Burr who plays District Attorney Frank Marlowe.
A Place In The Sun may be slow-moving and sombre in tone but the romance is real: Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift where never lovelier as these star-crossed lovers. MT