A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Those who behave badly will eventually be punished. Take responsibility for thoughts as much as actions -- the intention to commit a crime is still unethical, even if the action isn't carried out. Innocent people sometimes fall victim to the cruelty of others.
Positive Role Models
George is initially very polite and hardworking and treats others with respect. But when he begins to date two women at once he starts being arrogant, thoughtless, and cruel toward his first girlfriend, Alice, and attempts to shake responsibility when she becomes pregnant. Alice is practical, kind, and innocent. She keeps her head down and works hard, but becomes increasingly desperate and angry when she worries she will be left alone with the baby. Angela is glamorous, fun, playful, and mysterious. She is carefree and self-assured, due to her wealthy circumstances, but loves George and is unaware of his double life or what he might do in order to be with her.
There is a reference to slavery when a character says her summer cabin will be finished on time if she has to stand over them with a whip, and another refers to her as "Simone Legree," who is an enslaver in the book Uncle Tom's Cabin. The only Black character is Lulu, a member of household staff at a wealthy home. A woman has to tell a male doctor about pregnancy outside of marriage and feels embarrassed and ashamed, and the doctor disapproves. Gender roles are reinforced with women making meals for men. One woman, Angela, is confident and independent, and seems a match for George's arrogance, though is in a position of wealth, which affords her privileges some other women in the film don't have.
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Violence & Scariness
Character falls overboard on boat and drowns, and a coroner's report mentions bruises to the face and head. Another is imprisoned and led to the electric chair -- though the death and chair itself are not seen. News on the radio mentions death from high temperatures, car accidents, and drowning. Characters threaten to take their own life and plot murder, as well as passing out and driving dangerously fast. An angry mob smashes windows to a jail cell. Mention of the death of a father.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters kiss and embrace on a number of occasions. Moaning is heard off-screen and there is the implication sex has taken place when one character leaves the following morning. Women wolf whistle at a man in the factory.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink cocktails, champagne, and spirits, and smoke cigars and cigarettes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that A Place in the Sun is a classic Oscar-winning Hollywood romance with adult themes and sinister plot points. It stars Montgomery Clift as factory worker George Eastman who becomes involved in a love triangle with fellow factory worker Alice (Shelley Winters) and wealthy socialite Angela (Elizabeth Taylor). It was adapted from a 1925 novel called An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser, which later became a play. This black and white production was released in 1951 and won six Academy Awards. It handles mature themes, such as murder, suicide, unwanted pregnancy, and affairs, and sees a character drown and another sent to the electric chair. There is kissing and embracing and the implication sex has taken place (confirmed by a character's unexpected pregnancy). Scenes include drinking and smoking on a number of occasions. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
The title of the film's original source material is a fitting indication of what's to come in this tale of an upwardly mobile young man who loses his sense of self before he ends up losing everything. Based on the 1925 novel An American Tragedy, Clift gives an unsentimental performance in the lead role, which veers from sweet country boy to something quite unnerving during A Place in the Sun's two-hour runtime. Winters is sweet and spirited at the start, but becomes weighed down by her situation to the point of stereotype later in the film, the spurned pregnant girlfriend refusing to be left in the lurch while her beau is off with her glamorous counterpart. Taylor manages to add a few layers to her portrayal that weren't always evident in some of her previous roles -- admittedly playing the attractive aristocrat, but with a self-assured practicality that allows her power and appeal beyond her beauty and poise. The entire production is epic, which is reflected in its six Academy Awards, as well as its gleaming star power. It's a dark story, and its complexities certainly aren't glossed over, with director George Stevens maintaining the tension and momentum right until the credits roll.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.