A Place in the Sun is a 1951 American drama movie based on the 1925 novel An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser and the 1926 play, which is also titled An American Tragedy. The story deals with 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. Take a look below for 27 more fun and interesting facts about A Place in the Sun.
1. A Place in the Sun was directed by George Stevens from a screenplay by Harry Brown and Michael Wilson, and stars Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor and Shelley Winters; its supporting actors included Anne Revere and Raymond Burr.
2. The movie was a critical and commercial success, winning 6 Academy Awards and the first-ever Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama.
3. 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.”
4. The box office failure of the 1931 adaption of An American Tragedy prompted the filmmakers to seek an alternative title. One such title was “The Prize.” There was a $100 reward for whoever came up with the best new title, and George Steven’s associate Ivan Moffat successfully pitched for “A Place in the Sun.” He never received his $100 reward.
5. Elizabeth Taylor’s and Montgomery Clift’s beach idyll was actually filmed in October at Lake Tahoe, California. Crew members had hosed snow off the ground prior to filming.
6. The scene in which Elizabeth Taylor faints, was said to have been the best faint ever executed by an actress. Her unconcerned attitude with the health of her own body and the force in which she falls on her ribs and face is able to make any audience wince.
7. In the scene when Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor are gaily zooming around the lake in a speedboat, director George Stevens wanted the engine to sound more ominous. Recordings of German Stuka dive bombers were used.
8. Anne Revere, who played Montgomery Clift’s mother, became another victim of the McCarthy-era “Red Scare” blacklisting. After filming A Place in the Sun, she didn’t appear in another movie until 1970.
9. Elizabeth Taylor’s “White lilac” gown became a fashion sensation and sold many copies and patters.
10. George Stevens was a firm believer in running rushes at night, and having the actors in attendance. As Shelley Winters said, “Stevens would print several takes of each scene and then explain to use why one was better than the other. The whole experience was a joy.”
11. George Stevens often referred to Technicolor as having an, “Oh what a beautiful morning,” quality to it, something completely inappropriate to the tone of this movie, hence it was made in black and white.
12. A Place in the Sun is director Mike Nichols’ favorite movie. He claimed to have seen it over 50 times and said it was perhaps his biggest influence when directing The Graduate.
13. The well-known love scene between George and Angela was filmed in extreme close-up, using a six-inch lens. George Stevens rewrote the dialogue for the sequence at the last moment and surprised Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor with the revised pages.
14. Paramount was reluctant to make the movie, as it had already put Theodore Dreiser’s novel on the screen in 1931 under its original title, An American Tragedy. The studio’s lack of commitment ultimately changed when director George Stevens sued them for preventing him from working and therefore breaching his contract.
15. In the opening credits, as George waits at the side of the road for a ride, he’s actually passed by Angela’s car, as you can tell by the distinctive horn.
16. George Stevens thought that Gloria Grahame would be perfect for the role of Alice and personally called her to play the part. However, Grahame’s studio boss at RKO, Howard Hughes, refused to loan her out.
17. While Elizabeth Taylor and Shelley Winters had nothing but praise for George Stevens as a director, Montgomery Clift found him lacking and unimaginative, labeling him a mere “craftsman.” Clift’s biggest disagreement with Stevens didn’t deal with the character of George, but with Winter’s character, Alice Tripp. He thought that Tripp should be much more sympathetic, and that Winters was playing her all wrong.
18. Montgomery Clift showed up for the shoot with his drama coach, Mira Rostova. This didn’t cause friction on the set because George Stevens simply barred Rostova from the premises, so Clift had to consult with her well out of Steven’s sight.
19. George Stevens liked to play music on the set between takes to keep actors in the mood. Franz Waxman had already written several cues and themes for the movie, so on the Paramount stages, Stevens would play portions of his score, particularity the “party theme.”
20. The painstaking methods of George Stevens resulted in a final budget of $2.3 million and more than 400,000 feet of film to edit. Stevens and editor William Hornbeck worked on cutting the footage for more than a year.
21. Although George Eastman’s leather jacket might seem to suggest that he is a World War II veteran of the Army Air Corps, it’s in fact a police officer’s jacket, as shown by the two grommets on the left side for pinning on a badge.
22. Charlie Chaplin considered A Place in the Sun, “the greatest movie ever made about America.”
23. When George goes to the movie theater, the poster outside indicates the attraction is an “Ivan Moffat production;” Ivan Moffat was an associate producer on A Place in the Sun, and was also a member of director George Steven’s motion picture unit during World War II.
24. The part of Alice Tripp, played by Shelley Winters, was originally meant for Audrey Totter. However, she was under contract to MGM at the time and the studio wouldn’t loan her out.
25. A Place in the Sun is the first of three George Stevens movies in which Shelley Winters starred in. The others are The Diary of Anne Frank and The Greatest Story Ever Told. She received Oscar nominations for both A Place in the Sun and The Diary of Anne Frank, winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the latter.
26. A Place in the Sun is included among the American Film Institute’s 1998 list of the Top 100 Greatest American Movies.
27. A Place in the Sun is included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, which is edited by Steven Schneider.