~Elizabeth Taylor as Angela Vickers in George Stevens' A Place in the Sun
Hollywood princess Elizabeth Taylor was breathtakingly beautiful in this masterpiece.
We were young men taught that an education would be our passport to privilege. But we regularly heard about middle class white guys who could talk their way onto a Hollywood lot and wind up with a great job. How come white guys could easily get gigs writing for sitcoms like Sanford & Son, but the black and Mexican-American fellows who lived in the characters' Watts area and studied hard couldn't even get an interview? We knew what George Eastman would discover. It's not always how hard you work, how diligently you train. It's who you know. Stevens shows this cinematically with one simple scene. George falls for Angela. It's love at first sight. It will be mutual. She will fall for poor George. He's not like the oafish rich young men her family knows. For all George's hard work and ideas at the factory, did his talents prove to be the ticket to privilege? No. It was being Angela's boyfriend. At a party, they embrace. When Angela holds George and slowly, romantically they dance from one room into another, he has just glided from one class into another. It was as simple as that. He's no longer the outsider.
At one party, their emotions spill out in a tender scene. George has now been accepted. It's an elegant formal party. He's handsome in a tuxedo. But can he escape his lower class past? If I had to choose my "Top 5 Favorite Movie Kisses," this would be one. There's Taylor, who practically grew up on camera, looking directly into it and darting off to escape its gaze. There's Clift, the troubled gay man off camera who probably fell in love with Taylor a bit while making this film. I would have. I love this love scene.
This is based on the Theodore Dreiser novel, An American Tragedy. Keeping that title, the story was first filmed by director Josef von Sternberg in 1931. For me, this is a case in which the remake tops the original. What a movie. What a kiss.
See A Place in the Sun. I highly recommend it.