Friday, January 20, 2017

“A Place in the Sun” is the February Film Classic in Bigfork

The February Classic movie, “A Place in the Sun” is a Hollywood blockbuster by any standard you wish to use.  It has major stars with Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift and Shelly Winters.  It was critically acclaimed and a financial success.  Plus it won six Oscars and the first ever Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama.  It also was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” To find out what 1951 movie goers and critics liked so much come to Bigfork.  “A Place in the Sun” is the February Classic Movie shown on the big screen of the Edge Theatre in Bigfork by Jack Nachbar. It will be accompanied by Jack’s presentation providing a better understanding of the time period of the movie.  Date: Thursday February 9th. Time: 6:30PM. Price: free of charge.

This American drama film is based on a 1925 novel titled “An American Tragedy” and is about a working class young man entangled with two women. It has all the elements you’d expect in a real American tragedy, the basic love triangle, people caught in a web of deceit, power hungry people and more. Come and see this extraordinary film, which seems to have a very simple plot on the surface, but yet ends up being very complicated. This movie is recommended for mature audiences due to its content.

In her fainting scene for the movie, Elizabeth is said to have executed the “best” fainting scene ever in films. She was so unconcerned about her health and body that the force of her ribs and face hitting the pavement made audiences of the day wince when it happened. 

You can’t write an in-depth paragraph about this Elizabeth Taylor; you can only scratch the surface.  Starting as a child actress in the 1940s, she was the most popular in the 50s with her acting success carrying over into the 60s.  Then she remained a well-known public figure for the rest of her life. In 1999, the American Film Institute named her the seventh greatest female screen legend of all time.

Montgomery Clift prepared himself for an important scene in the film by spending a night locked in the San Quentin Penitentiary.  He so intimidated Taylor with his acting background that she felt like “…the inadequate teenage puppet that had pretty clothes and hadn’t really acted except with horses and dogs.”

Edward Montgomery Clift (1920- 1966) was one of the original “Method” actors. He often portrayed, according to the NY TIMES, “…moody, sensitive young men…” He started his career at 15 on Broadway, and by 25 was in Hollywood starring opposite John Wayne in the movie “Red River.” About Clift Taylor said, “Monty could have been the biggest star in the world if he did more movies.”  But the ones he picked were special. His role in “A Place in the Sun" is considered one of his signature method acting performances, for which he was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor.  Even with his limited roles in movies, he managed four Oscar nominations for his work and has a star in Hollywod’s Walk of Fame.

Shelley Winters had mixed feeling about her role in this movie because she was made to look so unglamorous for the part of Alice next to the stunning Elizabeth Taylor.  She developed such an inferiority complex  that it is said she drove strictly white Cadillacs for years to compensate.

Shelley Winters (born Shirley Schrift 1920-2006) appeared in dozens of films as well on stage and television.  With a career spanning over 50 years, she won two Oscars and was nominated for two others. Her appearance in “A Place in the Sun” was a departure from the sexpot image Universal was grooming her for at the time. She did very well with the part earning a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Actress.

The New York Times movie review from the period said that George Stevens, the director of this movie “…can point with pride to A Place in the Sun…(it) is a work of beauty, tenderness, power and insight…(that) emerges as a credit to both the motion picture craft and, we feel reasonably certain, the author’s major intentions.”

So come and see the great stars in a Hollywood magic film on the big screen for yourself free of charge. An appropriate snack will be served courtesy of Jack and his wife/projectionist, Lynn. Place: The Edge Center for the Arts, Bigfork. Date and time: Thursday February 9th at 6:30PM. It will be worth going to Bigfork, because Jack will provide you with background about the movie and a cartoon of the period to lighten your spirits and warm you up a little bit.


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