Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

A Place in the Sun (1951)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

A Place In the Sun (1951)

In Best Director-winning George Stevens' classic tearjerker based upon Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy - a star-crossed melodramatic romance (and social drama) set in 1950:

  • in the opening, low-born, ambitious George Eastman (Montgomery Clift) from Chicago hitched a ride to his distant, wealthy Uncle Charles Eastman's (Herbert Heyes) place, where he sought and acquired employment at his Uncle's bathing suit factory as a low-level worker; George had left his widowed mother Hannah Eastman (Anne Revere), a religious mission worker in Chicago
  • as the mostly-ungifted, aimless, and uneducated nephew George slowly ascended the ladder of success, powerful romantic chemistry developed between him and snobbish, beautiful, well-bred rich socialite-debutante Angela Vickers (Elizabeth Taylor) - his own distant cousin
  • in the meantime, George began to date (against company policies regarding fraternization with co-workers) and eventually impregnated poor, lower-class Alice Tripp (Shelley Winters); in her cramped one-room apartment while serving the very tardy George his birthday dinner, she confessed: "George, it's awful. I can't tell you now....Oh, I'm so afraid...George, I'm in trouble - real trouble, I think...Remember the first night we came here. Oh, I'm so worried"
  • the first of two starry-eyed, sensuous romantic scenes between George and Angela: (1) during their dance scene: George appeared sullen, deep and far away (due to the fact that he had impregnated a co-worker), so he confessed his love to Angela, a love of an ideal woman which had now been discovered in her: "I love you. I've loved you since the first moment I saw you. I guess maybe I've loved you before I saw you"; Angela then began to confess her love too, but then became totally self-conscious, looking around anxiously and hesitantly: "You're the fellow who wondered why I invited you here tonight. Well, I'll tell you why. I love...Are they watching us?" - and she pulled him out to the balcony terrace for privacy
Dancing Sequence

George's Sullen Look

"Aren't you happy with me?"

"I've loved you since the first moment I saw you"

"Are they watching us?"
  • (2) during their terrace balcony scene: she replied reticently to his confession: "I love you too. It scares me. But it is a wonderful feeling"; extreme closeups filled the screen as they revealed innermost emotions and inflamed passions; George was filled with guilt and repression: "Oh, Angela, if I could only tell you how much I love you, if I could only tell you all." She comforted him with an intimate reply while pulling him closer to her: "Tell Mama, tell Mama all"; they embraced and kissed passionately (a soft-focus kiss in gigantic close-up)
  • a doctor refused to terminate Alice's shameful and unwanted pregnancy (the term abortion was not used); as a result, Alice used coercive blackmail and insisted on an immediate marriage with George (to make their child legitimate): ("I'll tell them everything George, I mean it") - she confronted George on the phone and threatened to reveal their relationship and pregnancy, and even mentioned committing suicide
  • on Labor Day weekend at the Vickers' lakeside home during a vacation period, Alice arrived in town to speak to George, and insisted that they go to the county clerk's office to get married immediately - but it was closed for the holiday
  • the scene of the infamous lake/rowboat "murder" - during a rowboat ride with Alice out into the middle of Loon Lake on a dark night, George contemplated, planned and willed (if not actually committed) the murder of his fiancee; however, at the last crucial moment, he realized that he could not bring himself to carry out his murderous evil plan ("I'll make it up to you. I'll stick by you") by overturning the boat and letting her drown; but then, in an ironic twist of fate, when she stood up to embrace him and console him ("Oh, poor George. I know it isn't easy for you. I shouldn't have said that"), she unbalanced the boat and caused it to rock and capsize; she accidentally fell in the lake and drowned, and he was unable (or unwilling) to save her
  • the scene ended in a very long shot of the overturned rowboat, and transitioned to a dark, blurry dissolve into the next scene; George attempted to delay dealing with the fact of Alice's death, but was soon confronted and arrested by authorities: ("Is your name George Eastman?...You're under arrest")
The Lake - Rowboat "Murder" Sequence

Boat Capsized

Overturned Rowboat

"Is your name George Eastman?...You're under arrest!"
  • during a dramatic courtroom trial, George faced murder charges, and confessed that he intended to murder Alice, but there were no witnesses that he actually did; there was only strong circumstantial evidence against him; the relentless District Attorney R. Frank Marlowe (Raymond Burr, TV's future Perry Mason) devastated George on the stand; he even re-enacted the rowboat death in the courtroom, while George failed to credibly answer questions and help to reconstruct the drowning -- the most dramatic moment in the courtroom came when Marlowe struck the oar across the boat, implying that George had struck Alice and caused her to fall into the water
  • in the final prison/execution farewell scene in his death cell, condemned and doomed poor boy George was with Angela, wearing black (with a white collar): Angela: "...I'll go on loving you for as long as I live." George replied: "Love me for the time I have left. Then, forget me." They kissed one last time. Angela: "Goodbye, George." She half-turned away and then looked back. "Seems like we always spend the best part of our time just saying goodbye." George took to his death the superimposed image of dark-haired Angela kissing him
  • inevitably, George fell from his 'place in the sun' when executed (by the electric chair)

George in Opening Credits - Hitchhiking

George's Forbidden Relationship with Co-Worker Alice

Alice's Startling Confession of Pregnancy

Balcony Love Scene: "Tell Mama, tell Mama all"

Alice Coercively Confronting George: "I'll tell them everything"

Courtroom Trial: George on Witness Stand Brutally Questioned by DA Frank Marlowe (Raymond Burr)

Final Prison Farewell Scene


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