DISCLAIMER: This post is going to contain spoilers but it shouldn’t deter the reader from viewing the movie for the reader should make-up their mind as to the truth of the matter.
George, Alice, And Angela
A Place in the Sun (Stevens, 1951) stars Montgomery Cliff as George Eastman, a down on his luck guy who seeks a job at his uncle’s company of the same name, Eastman. While working there he meets Alice Tripp (Shelly Winters), another worker. Eastman has a rule that employees are not to fraternize with one another, especially if you work in the same area, and Earl Eastman takes this rule very seriously.
George takes a liking to Alice but is aware of the rules. While talking to Alice outside the office building, he spots Angela Vickers (Elizabeth Taylor) who comes from money. A lot of money. George soon becomes enamored with both Alice and Angela, but for different reasons. Alice because he likes her, she’s more his type, and Angela, because she has the money, but he does develop feelings for her, or at least it seems that way.
George and Alice go on a date that ends in a one-night stand. From this one-night stand, Alice ends up pregnant. Unbeknownst to her, George has begun a relationship with Angela. It’s on the night of George’s birthday in which Alice had been waiting for him for hours at her apartment, her extremely small apartment where everything is in one room, to celebrate, that she tells him she’s pregnant. This news complicates George’s life a great deal, as well as Alice’s for it’s the 1950s and single pregnant females were shunned.
George’s dilemma is having to conceal his relationship with Alice for two reasons, she’s pregnant and the no-fraternizing at work policy. But more importantly it will jeopardize his relationship with Angela and definitely with her family for he’s on his way to having it all. Alice’s dilemma is George! To resolve this issue, she threatens George that if he doesn’t do right by her (marry her), she will tell the world the truth despite the shame being brought upon her in doing so. This causes a panic inside George in which he has to formulate a plan, rather an out, that works in his favor. His plan, kill Alice. How? By drowning, either of her doing or his doing.
The plan for the drowning came about when George and Angela go to the lake. George remembers Alice can’t swim and should she fall in and accidentally drowns he’s free of her. Or he can make it look like a drowning. But what George is forgetting is there is a unborn baby involved.
LET’S GO FOR A RIDE
George is able to convince Alice to go for a ride down by the same lake, but Alice is oblivious that George was just there with Angela either the day before or a few days before. On the drive, George does something to the car to make it seem as if it has run out of gas. This presents an opportunity for George to get Alice on a boat in the lake by telling her that since they are by the lake they should get a boat and go out on the water. He rents a boat, not a stable one at that, and he and Alice are now sailing down the lake. The whole while on the boat George is torn with himself if he should go through with his plan to off Alice.
DON’T ROCK THE BOAT, DON’T TIP THE BOAT OVER
While on the lake George is sitting towards the back of the boat while Alice is in the front. They have a confrontation which causes Alice to stand up and walk towards George. But George frantically tells her to sit down but it’s too late. With her standing and him trying to stand up to get a hold of her the boat capsizes and they both fall into the lake with only George emerging a few minutes later.
Alice has now accidentally drowned but a body is not present. This puts George in a state of relief. Not only did he not have a hand in her death, but she is nowhere to be seen. George leaves the scene only to run into two kids at the lake. He keeps his cool and proceeds on. He gets in his car and drives off.
It’s not long before the news of Alice’s body is found reaches George. Now he’s in more of a dilemma than he was prior. And soon George is linked as the last person to see Alice and is arrested.
TRIAL, JURY AND EXECUTIONER
George is charged with first-degree murder and put on trial and convicted of such. His conviction leads to the death penalty. Here’s where everything comes into question. George has the intent to kill Alice and admits it. But has a change of heart almost at the last second. But the fact that he didn’t seek out Alice after they fell overboard, along with his confession of intent, not to mention the witnesses leads to George being found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to death.
INTENT vs. THE ACT ITSELF
Personally, the intent to do something should not be enough to convict anyone of said doing. However, all roads led George to commit the murder, or it appearing as such. His not seeking Alice out after they both fell overboard is what possibly sealed his fate. But this is up to the viewer to decide.
MORE TIME COULD HAVE BEEN SPENT ON TRIAL
A Place in the Sun is a two-hour and two-minute movie. One hour could have been spent prior to Alice’s death and the rest of the film spent on the trial. How Alice died could have been told during the trial allowing for flashbacks. With the trial happening with 30mins left in the film it felt rushed. A well-thought-out court-room drama would have added to an already great movie.
A Place in the Sun is currently streaming on Amazon