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Why do I like "A Place in the Sun" so?


brianNH
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Why is it that whenever "A Place in the Sun" shows up on the schedule, I have to watch it?  Never fails.  

I don't know what is that captivates me so.  The story is nothing but unsubsiding sorrow.

Got to be Montgomery Clift?  Elizabeth Taylor -- who was now growing into a pretty good adult actress?  Shelley Winters?  Maybe it's George Stevens and the way he pulled the whole tragedy together?  

Heavens, it could even be Raymond Burr or Anne Revere.

Somehow this just all comes together to tug at me.  Can anyone out there help me figure this out? 

Thanks; appreciate it.

 

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26 minutes ago, brianNH said:

Why is it that whenever "A Place in the Sun" shows up on the schedule, I have to watch it?  Never fails.  

I don't know what is that captivates me so.  The story is nothing but unsubsiding sorrow.

Got to be Montgomery Clift?  Elizabeth Taylor -- who was now growing into a pretty good adult actress?  Shelley Winters?  Maybe it's George Stevens and the way he pulled the whole tragedy together?  

Heavens, it could even be Raymond Burr or Anne Revere.

Somehow this just all comes together to tug at me.  Can anyone out there help me figure this out? 

Thanks; appreciate it.

 

I dunno, Brian. Maybe it might be because you're one of those rare individuals out there who actually likes the sound of Shelley Winters' voice???

Well, you ASKED, didn't YOU?! ;)  LOL

(...actually, it might be because this film is pretty much flawless in all aspects...I remember after my first viewing of it as a teenager when it was shown on-I think-the old ABC Sunday Night Movie series back in the mid-to-late '60s and it "haunted me" for days afterward, and as only truly great films tend to do)

 

 

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For me, it's one of those "hope it ends differently this time" flicks. I always get sucked into the drama and suspense of the story, and it paces out the action just long enough to tease you into thinking there's some hope for the Clift character this time.

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It could be director George Stevens' combination of old-fashioned camera techniques (close-ups and those languorous, slow dissolves) artfully showcasing New Hollywood-of-the-Fifties Actor's Studio styles with emerging star Montgomery Clift and a new way for Elizabeth Taylor to explore a more mature direction, all joining to produce a perhaps too-carefully crafted hypnotic emotional effect.  

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As a young man, I was told that Elizabeth Taylor was the most beautiful of the Hollywood stars.  

The first movie I saw her in was "Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf".  I walked out of the theater.

Years later I saw her on TV in "A Place In The Sum , maybe, Dargo, on the same ABC Sunday Night Movie that you mention.

Wow! Especially when she says (and the late Alex Treback of "Jeopardy" fame quoted on one show) "Tell Mama, tell Mama all".

"A Place In The Sun" is the first movie I show to those unfamiliar with the classics. 

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6 minutes ago, johnpressman said:

 

 

Wow! Especially when she says (and the late Alex Treback of "Jeopardy" fame quoted on one show) "Tell Mama, tell Mama all".

 

Elizabeth is very much the "Earth Mother" to Clift's character in SUN.  She projects a sensual and nurturing maturity for one so young and protected in that blue-blood society bubble.

Of course in VIRGINIA WOOLF she's a different kind of strong female, lol.    ("I'm the Earth Mother and you are all flops!")

 

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Interesting takes so far.  Thanks.  

Surely, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf" didn't win Miss Taylor any pin-up contests!  That's a movie I watched once and that was enough for me.

Bronxgirl48, that's curious observation about a "too-carefully crafted emotional effect."  Hmm, I'll have to think about that.

(And Dargo, just so you know, I go to sleep every night listening to Shelly Winters' books on tape reading of "Goodnight, Moon.")

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I think A PLACE IN THE SUN is one for the ages because of the deft telling of the story-you've got George Stevens directing two "method" powerhouses Clift and Winters who both knew how to accentuate their roles. Liz had the incredible can't-take-your-eyes-off-her beauty and have to believe she received great acting support from all (esp Clift) and it shows.

Then you have the story, in which you see Clift be a "normal" guy, then falling into this unbelievable circumstance of a gorgeous woman who along with her entire family, accept & adore him! Here is a chance for him to elevate his life & fortune from working class schlub to upper crust/easy street.

But he blows it all by reacting as a schlub, not saving whining Winters character from yet another death by drowning. That one non-action causes his slippery slope back to schlub-land and he pays dearly for it with his life.

Not only is the story told perfectly by all the actors, directors & crew, but I think we all can identify with each of the charactor's hope & desperation of circumstance.

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I find "A Place in the Sun" gripping from beginning to end.  The story is mesmerizing and tragic.  Montgomery Clift and Shelly Winters give powerhouse performances playing their characters in an unsentimental way.  This film shows Elizabeth Taylor maturing into an actress.  I can understand your fascination with this film BrianNH.  This movie is based on Theodore Drieser's classic novel "An American Tragedy".  I haven't read this book and I've wondered how the book differs from the film.  I admired Shelly Winters portrayal of her character which is not glamorous at all.  Montgomery Clift's performance is very authentic showing his character, George Eastman's, feelings that ranged from angst, passion and fear so believably.  I've read that Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor began a lifelong friendship when they made this film together.  Clift helped Taylor with her acting in "A Place in the Sun".

A Place in the Sun (1951) – Seeing Things Secondhand   shelley golden | Explore Tumblr Posts and Blogs | Tumgir   A Place in the Sun (1951) Starring: Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, Shelley  Winters - Three Movie Buffs Review

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Shelley Winters started in theater in NY, and even had a go as Ado Annie in the original production of Oklahoma! 

Once she moved on to Hollywood, she was originally typecast as a blonde bombshell, but hated it because it was limiting.

Shelley winters actress hi-res stock photography and images - Alamy

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2 hours ago, brianNH said:

 

Bronxgirl48, that's curious observation about a "too-carefully crafted emotional effect."  Hmm, I'll have to think about that.

 

Stevens of course was deeply affected by WWII and its aftermath, so for me his post-war films sometimes "suffer" from, for lack of a better phrase, artistic seriousness.  This doesn't take away from the brilliance of, for example, I REMEMBER MAMA but to my eyes it does "limit" a smidge my complete appreciation of SUN and an impatience with GIANT. 

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Obviously solid fans of the movie, or those who make the usual obligatory  gushings over OK movies that have a huge fan base.

And for me, the movie is just OK.  Not "great",  but as stated, a well crafted story that was well cast and performed.  

But I was(am) always taken by the scene of Monty conjuring up the memory of he and Liz kissing on his way to the chair.

But, NObody can really tell you why YOU like the movie so much.  That's up to you to explain.  ;) 

Sepiatone

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3 hours ago, brianNH said:

(And Dargo, just so you know, I go to sleep every night listening to Shelly Winters' books on tape reading of "Goodnight, Moon.")

Yeah? Well, I've ALSO read somewhere very recently that some women think Barton MacLane was pretty hot too, and so I guess people's tastes can run a much wider gamut than I ever would've thought, huh! ;)

(...boy I hope Bronxie sees this one)

LOL

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Since Shelly was mentioned earlier in here, and in looking back at her "day" yesterday, I would have liked to have seen PHONE CALL FROM A STRANGER('52) in the line-up.  She did have a small part in that one, but she also had small parts in several of yesterday's movies.  And if not "Phone call" what about the somewhat larger role as the Mother in ENTER LAUGHING('67)?

Sepiatone

 

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14 hours ago, sewhite2000 said:

For me, it's one of those "hope it ends differently this time" flicks. I always get sucked into the drama and suspense of the story, and it paces out the action just long enough to tease you into thinking there's some hope for the Clift character this time.

This exemplifies the movie for me.  But we always spend the best of our time together saying goodbye. 

 

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2 hours ago, Bronxgirl48 said:

an impatience with GIANT

I think it's fair to point out that the source material for GIANT is quite different from A PLACE IN THE SUN.  I am not a fan of GIANT either; the acting is more histrionic and I don't care about the characters. 

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8 hours ago, brianNH said:

(And Dargo, just so you know, I go to sleep every night listening to Shelly Winters' books on tape reading of "Goodnight, Moon.")

I prefer Christopher Walken's version:

 

 

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A Place in the Sun is my favorite of 1951.  I think Clift should have won the Oscar.  Brilliant!

By the way, Giant  is my top movie of 1956.  What's rather amazing is that George Stevens won Oscars for directing both movies, but neither took home the Best Pic award.

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13 minutes ago, Fedya said:

I prefer Christopher Walken's version:

 

 

LOL

Reminds me of that one SNL skit in which John Malkovich recites 'The Night Before Christmas' to a bunch of little ones seated around him.

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According to the outstanding biography Mike Nichols: A Life by Mark Harris, Nichols considered A Place In The Sun his “bible.”  He saw the movie when it was released in 1951 and loved it.  In the 1960s, when he was preparing to direct his first movie, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, he watched A Place In The Sun again to assure himself that his friend Elizabeth Taylor could handle the complex role in Virginia Woolf — and he was obviously favorably impressed.  

(If I remember correctly, Nichols became a friend of Burton and Taylor when Mike was appearing on Broadway with Elaine May in their two-person show and Burton was appearing in Camelot at a nearby theater.)

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8 hours ago, Tikisoo said:

Then you have the story, in which you see Clift be a "normal" guy, then falling into this unbelievable circumstance of a gorgeous woman who along with her entire family, accept & adore him! Here is a chance for him to elevate his life & fortune from working class schlub to upper crust/easy street.

But he blows it all by reacting as a schlub, not saving whining Winters character from yet another death by drowning. That one non-action causes his slippery slope back to schlub-land and he pays dearly for it with his life.

I'm not sure I'm following your "take" here:       The guy had sex with the Winters character and this resulted in a pregnancy.    If he had told Liz's family about that,  I doubt he would have had been accepted in the family,  management, and their associated crusty lifestyle.   (Ok,  I can see the Liz character forgiving him, but no one else).

Thus the reason he didn't save the Winters character was because he didn't want what happened between them to be exposed.   I.e. he wanted her out of the way.    

So it wasn't that "one  non-action" of not saving Winters that upended his life,   but the one action of having sex with Winters that lead to her pregnancy.

 

  

 

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You're packin' a lot here, JamesJazGuitar.   I confess that I haven't read the novel by Dreiser, so I assume there is quite a bit about Clift's character that is revealed outside of the film.  However, I must take the movie as it is and make sense of the narrative that is presented in it.

We get glimpses of a young George Eastman  from his reaction to the street missionaries and his exchanges with his mother.  I would say that he was raised with a very strict ethical and moral code; yet when presented with material gain and worldly treasure, he  gives in to temptation.  This sets him on his path to perdition.  I, for one, am convinced that at the moment on the lake where everything was in the balance, he could not purposefully act to bring about the death of Alice Tripp.  Yet, when the circumstance came about for him to save her from drowning,  he swam to shore instead of  helping Alice to safety.  Gads, what a worm!

Ok, JamesJG, I'm reading again your latest post; and I think I see your point of George's downfall as the result of his entanglement with Alice early on in his newly found connection with the Eastman family.  Again, stemming from his up-bringing, he must have wrestled mightily with how to deal with Alice and then Angela.  We see it clearly, I think;  but as someone in the midst of a weighty moral problem, he chose poorly.  

And I think it's because we see it clearly, that -- as Sewhite mentioned earlier -- we keep thinking that George will find the right way out if only we watch the movie enough times! 

 

 

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