Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB
USA, 1951. Paramount Pictures. Screenplay by Michael Wilson, Harry Brown, based on the play by Patrick Kearney, adapted from the novel An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser. Cinematography by William C. Mellor. Produced by George Stevens. Music by Franz Waxman. Production Design by Hans Dreier, Walter H. Tyler. Costume Design by Edith Head. Film Editing by William Hornbeck.
A good but strongly overrated film about a superficial tragedy that besets the lives of superficially pretty people in New England in the 1930s (though it never for a second convinces you of its time period, nor does it seem to try). Montgomery Clift is excellent as a young working-class man who wants to escape his life at the bottom of the barrel (which includes a tiny apartment and dumpy wife played by Shelley Winters) and live the high life with socialite Elizabeth Taylor; the lengths to which he goes to achieve his ‘place in the sun’ end up being disastrous.
Taylor and Winters match Clift with top-notch performances in their roles, but you keep feeling like director George Stevens is tricking you into taking very shallow material much more seriously than it deserves. Based on the novel An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser (the title was changed thanks to massive changes being made to the original text).
Academy Awards: Best Director (George Stevens); Best Screenplay; Best Cinematography-BW; Best Costume Design-BW; Best Film Editing; Best Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Actor (Montgomery Clift); Best Actress (Shelley Winters)
Cannes Film Festival: In Competition
Golden Globe Awards: Best Picture
Nominations: Best Actress-Drama (Shelley Winters); Best Director (George Stevens); Best Cinematography-BW