Plot: What’s it about?
George Eastman (Montgomery Clift) finally has a chance to make something of himself, but he will have to work hard, from the bottom up. He has dreams of living the life of the rich man, but in order to make it happen, he’ll have to strive for excellence, or run into some real luck. While he toils in his low position job, he meets Alice Tripp (Shelley Winters), a young woman who also has a blue collar lifestyle. But she is nice and the two hit it off, but as fate has it for these two, they will not have an easy road to travel together. Soon enough, Eastman finds himself getting inside the upper crust of the town, which leads to his meeting with debutante Angela Vickers (Elizabeth Taylor). This is the kind of chance Eastman has waited his entire life for, but Alice has no intentions of allowing herself to be written off, at least not without a fight. As tensions mount and secrets begin to surface, what will become of these three troubled people?
I am always pleased to see more classic films released on DVD, so of course, I’ve been looking forward to A Place in the Sun. I have to say that while the film still has a lot of good elements, it hasn’t held up as well as some other classics. I found the moral issues at hand to be dated, which sort of lessens the impact, at least to an extent. But you have to watch some movies in a certain mindset and this is one of them, as you have to put yourself in the frame of the picture. So A Place in the Sun has lost some of its power as time has passed, but it still turns out to be a terrific film, it was even included on the AFI Top 100 Films of All Time list. The performances of Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift, and Shelley Winters are quite good, but some of the others seem out of place, especially Raymond Burr’s efforts. I recommend this film to all movie fans and since Paramount has included some cool extras, this release is more than worthwhile.
This was one of her earliest performances, but even so, Elizabeth Taylor shines here and really commands the screen. I hold this among her finest work ever, as she is so beautiful and on the mark with her character, very impressive stuff. Of course, she has some excellent material to work with and she really runs with it, in a very detailed overall performance. She needed to have a lot of impact on the audience, given the nature of the material and she does that & then some, which is one reason the film works so well. This might not be her most flashy or memorable role, but I still think it ranks as one of her best ones. You can also see Taylor in such films as Cleopatra, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Butterfield 8, The Mirror Crack’d, and Father’s Little Dividend. The cast also includes Montgomery Clift (From Here to Eternity, The Misfits), Raymond Burr (Rear Window, Tv’s Perry Mason), and Shelley Winters (Alfie, The Night of the Hunter).
Video: How does it look?
A Place in the Sun is presented in a full frame transfer, as intended. As is often the case with their older films, Paramount has issued a fine transfer here, which should exceed all expectations, I think. The print looks almost pristine, which is fantastic news, as it allows for a clean, very refined visual presentation. I did see some minor errors in terms of contrast, but the slight imbalance is infrequent and shouldn’t bother anyone much. A few scenes have the little bit of black level pulses, but again, nothing to be overly concerned about. So this not a perfect visual effort, but it looks tremendous and should please all viewers, I think.
Audio: How does it sound?
The remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 surround option here is not too impressive, with no real surround use to report. I wasn’t expecting a powerful atmosphere by any means, but I counted on some kind of surround presence, though none is found here. In addition, the materials seem in less that stellar form, with some obvious muffled dialogue and signs of distortion at times. I doubt anyone will be totally let down here, but I found this to be a rather disappointing audio effort, especially since the original mono hasn’t been included. This disc also includes English subtitles, in case you need to enable those at some point.
Supplements: What are the extras?
I was pleased to find a nice selection of extras here, as Paramount is not known for piling on the supplements, to say the least. It all starts off with an audio commentary with son of the director George Stevens, Jr. and producer Ivan Moffet, which makes a welcome inclusion, even if the results are less that enthralling. Although the two share a lot of comments, I was never too taken with their information, as it wasn’t always on topic. Next up is a twenty-two minute featurette, packed with interviews of all kinds, with various cast & crew members. I found this to be a highly informative and well crafted piece, one fans simply cannot afford to miss. In addition, Paramount has included forty-five minutes of excerpts from George Stevens: Filmmaker, which contain even more insight and interviews with key players. You can view the interviews in separate pieces, or choose to watch them all in sequence, which works out better. This disc also includes the film’s theatrical trailer, which rounds out the disc quite well.