"A Place in the Sun" is based on a novel called "An American Tragedy", which was written by Theodore Dreiser. His book had already been made into a movie back in 1931, but director George Stevens decided to take the project on anyways. The 1951 version was made a on a budget of a little over $2 million and was a massive hit at the box office.
The story follows a young man named George Eastman who is meeting with his rich uncle to secure a job in his factory. At the meeting, he sees a woman named Angela Vickers for the first time and appears to experience love at first sight. His uncle gives him an entry level position on an assembly line, where he meets another young woman named Alice Tripp.
Although the Eastmans are not supposed to socialize or get romantically involved with the workers, George finds himself drawn to Alice. They begin to date secretly, but George continues struggling to get promoted by writing up proposals to increase efficiency on the assembly line. Eventually, he is granted a promotion to a white collar job.
Along with the economic promotion, George finds that he has received a social promotion. He finally gets the courage to start flirting with Angela Vickers and before he knows it, sparks are flying. They spend a few days at her parents' cabin, where their relationship deepens. In spite of this, Angela's parents don't seem to approve of George initially, but gradually warm to his charisma.
George appears to have found his dream, but he finds out that Alice is pregnant with his child. She tries to get an abortion, but is refused by the doctor and begins to stalk George. Eventually, she threatens to reveal their affair to the Eastman and Vickers families unless he marries her. Realizing that such a revelation would destroy his promising future, George decides to take very serious measures to stop Alice.
The role of George Eastman is played by Montgomery Clift, who plays the character very believably. Angela Vickers is played by Elizabeth Taylor, who is both sizzling hot and a great actress in this film. Alice Tripp is played by Shelley Winters, who does surprisingly well playing a humble blue collar worker, despite her history as a glamor girl.
The name of the novel alone should give you an idea of the tone of this film. It is indeed a tragedy, but it is hard to feel too much sympathy for George's character since he acts very selfish the entire time. There are certainly some happy parts, but the overall film is very dark and dreary.
The entire film is shot in black and white, but I think it actually helps the mood of the film. As I said before, the film is dark, but I think the dark nature of the storyline is accentuated by the dark scenes. One of the most dramatic sequences takes place on a lake, where George is taking Alice for a boat ride after dark.
Overall, I must say that this is one of my favorite films of all time. The storyline is suspenseful, the acting is fantastic, and everything seems to come together perfectly. This classic film is a must-see!