Place_in_the_sun.gifThe Movie:
A Place in the Sun

A Place in the Sun is the 1951 American drama based on the novel An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser and the play, also titled An American Tragedy, which was adapted by Patrick Kearney from the novel.  It tells the story of a working-class young man who is entangled with two women; one who works in his wealthy uncle's factory and the other a beautiful socialite.  The film was directed by George Stevens from a screenplay by Harry Brown and Michael Wilson, and stars Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, Shelley Winters, Anne Revere, and Raymond Burr.

The film was a critical and popular success, winning six Academy Awards. In 1991, A Place in the Sun was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

In the film, George Eastman (Montgomery Clift), the poor nephew of rich industrialist Charles Eastman (Herbert Heyes), takes a job in his uncle's factory. Despite George's family relationship to the owner, the rich Eastman family treats him as an outsider and gives him the humblest job available in the factory and no entree into their exclusive social circle. George, uncomplaining, hopes to impress his uncle--whom he addresses as "Mr. Eastman"--with his hard work and earn his way up. While working in the factory, George starts dating fellow factory worker Alice "Al" Tripp (Shelley Winters), in defiance of the workplace rules. Al is a poor and inexperienced girl who is dazzled by George and slow to believe that his Eastman name brings him no advantages.

While stepping out with Al, George meets "society girl" Angela Vickers, played by Elizabeth Taylor, and they quickly fall in love. Being Angela's escort thrusts George into the intoxicating and carefree lifestyle of high society that his rich Eastman kin had denied him. When Al announces that she is pregnant and makes it clear that she expects George to marry her, he temporizes, spending more and more of his time with Angela and his new well-heeled friends. An attempt to procure an abortion for Al fails, and Al renews her insistence on marriage. George is invited to join Angela at the Vickers's holiday lake house and excuses himself to Al, saying that the visit will advance his career and accrue to the benefit of the coming child.George and Angela spend time at secluded Loon Lake, and after hearing a story of a couple's supposed drowning there, with the man's body never being found, George hatches a plan to rid himself of Al so that he can marry Angela.

Meanwhile, Al finds a picture in the newspaper of George, Angela, and their friends, and realizing that George lied to her about being forced to go to the lake, she meets George in the nearby town and threatens to expose everything to his society friends if he doesn't marry her. They quickly drive to City Hall to elope but they find it closed for Labor Day, and George suggests spending the day at the nearby lake; Al unsuspectingly agrees.

When they get to the lake, George acts visibly nervous when he rents a boat from a man who seems to deduce that George gave him a false name; the man's suspicions are aroused more when George asks him whether any other boaters are on the lake (none are). While they are out on the lake, Al confesses her dreams about their happy future together with their child. As George apparently takes pity on her and, judging from his attitude, decides not to carry out his murderous plan, Al tries to stand up in the boat, causing it to capsize, and Al drowns.

George escapes, swims to shore, and eventually drives back up to the Vickers's lodge, where he tries to relax but is increasingly tense. He says nothing to anyone about having been on the lake or about what happened there. Meanwhile, Al's body is discovered and her death is treated as a murder investigation almost from the first moment, while an abundant amount of evidence and witness reports stack up against George. Just as Angela's father approves Angela's marriage to him, George is arrested and charged with Al's murder. Though the audience knows that the planned murder in fact turned into an accidental drowning, George's furtive actions before and after Al's death condemn him. His denials are futile, and he is found guilty of murder and sentenced to death in the electric chair.

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