Saturday, 4 June 2011

Best Actor 1951: Montgomery Clift in A Place in the Sun

Montgomery Clift received his second Oscar nomination for portraying George Eastman in A Place in the Sun.

A Place in the Sun is a terrific film about a young factory worker who aspires to be successful, as well as aspires to gain the affection of upper class young woman Angela Vickers (Elizabeth Taylor), but his success is threatened by his earlier relationship with another factory worker Alice Tripp (Shelly Winters).

Montgomery Clift is the ambitious young man, and I would say the first thing I noticed was Clift does not portray the part as overly ambitious and forceful, as say Laurence Harvey does in Room at the Top. I actually found Clift instead portrayed him as more of a basically average man, who sure wants to get ahead, but it is not the only thing he ever thinks about. Clift actually does have an actual warmness to his performance, and I found this to be rather interesting to way to play this type of character.

Clift really does not push the ambitious but merely having it there like a normal man, and shows really when he is working in just the factory, he really does not have a major problem working in the factory. George begins a relationship with his fellow worker Alice, despite being against the company's policy. Clift is rather charming in his role, and his initial relationship with Alice is made quite sweet through this charm, making how the relationship turns out later all the more disconcerting.

George though eventually receives a promotion, and finally is able to come to one of their fancy parties where he meets Angela of the wealthy family. Taylor's and Clift chemistry is simply amazing together. They have simply the perfect tone together that makes their relationship really an actually one based on love more than anything else. Clift and Taylor being so perfect together is largely what makes this film so effective, because his relationship with Alice is not because of his ambition, but because George honestly does love Angela.

Well what does he do, but decides to murder Alice to make way for his life for Angela. Clift is brilliant because  he really does not show his murdering intent come from evilness, but rather instead foolishness. Clift presents that his passionately love for Angela is simply so great, that it makes him start to think this way, particularly where Clift shows without saying a thing his impulsive plan develop in his head as he hears a radio broadcast on the dangers of swimming in certian waters. 

George decides to enact his plan of sorts, in a sequence that may be Clift best piece of acting in the film. He is outstanding in every moment of the whole affair. First starting out pretending everything is fine, and that he will marry Alice anyways, but still underlying his nervousness he is unable to overcome as he tries to implement the plan. He begins to visibly deteriorate as he tries to rent the boat, and begins to get closer, Clift along with score, and the direction brilliantly build the intensity of the scene to an incredible height.

It reaches its height as they finally are secluded with one another in the middle of lake, as Alice begins to question what George really is thinking. In this moment Clift perfectly conveys how much is going on through his mind. He shows that George is attempting to be a murderer, but at the same time he is not. He also is showing how he sees his life with Angela being impossible, with Alice still around, yet he really does not believe Alice deserves to die. It is simply a stunning for Clift because he flawlessly coveys all of these emotions swirling inside George's head.

After the boat scene, Clift is again terrific because he immediately shows that George will never be the same because of what happened on the boat. Clift shows through the rest of his performance of his guilt that he is unable to ever over come. He really does not show a single moment of happiness in the rest of his performance, because he knows what he has done, and Clift clearly presents how it truly pains George deep within.

(Spoiler Marker) Clift excels in his final scenes of the film, firstly his guilt ridden, yet in an odd way heartfelt court room testimony. Clift shows that George wants to save his own life for sure, as well as really does not believe he murdered Alice, but still was really responsible for her death. Clift manages this amazingly well, as he does his final scenes at the end of the film with his mother, as well as Angela. Clift is heartbreaking really because he shows that George did all that he did never for hatred, but rather he never could stop thinking of the woman he truly loved. Clift is great in every moment of his performance, and it is simply a facinating portrait of a man whose passion drives him to destruction.


Anonymous said...

Yes! I'm very glad you liked this perfect performance in a perfect film! I really hope you choose him instead of Brando as your number 1, I don't think it's a close call at all! What did you think of Winter's amazing performance?

Louis Morgan said...

Winter's is, well amazing.

dinasztie said...

Wow, I'm so curious about this movie.