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A Place in the Sun (1951)

by on August 23, 2021
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“A Place in the Sun” was a sensation when it came out in 1951, though its place among the cinematic greats has faded considerably. This, despite the fact it won the first Golden Globe for best picture. And it took six Oscars including director, screenplay, cinematography, editing and musical score, beating out “A Streetcar Named Desire” in all five categories.

I think most modern observers would call those prizes sorely misplaced.

It stars a powerhouse cast of Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor and Shelley Winters in a tragic love triangle based on Hoosier author Theodore Dreiser’s book, “An American Tragedy” (unread by me), later turned into a play and then this movie, script by Michael Wilson and Harry Brown. Clift plays the poor nephew of a women’s clothing magnate who is invited into a world of privilege, falls for a wealthy socialite but is conflicted after impregnating a female coworker.

There is very much a “The Great Gatsby” feel to the story, and the indeed this novel came out a few months after F. Scott Fitzgerald’s in 1925. Though the film is set in contemporaneous times instead of the Roaring Twenties, much is made about the contrast between the wealthy and the poor, the perceived nobility of the privileged and the venality of the common folk.

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