“Last night inveigled by the critics and the ballyhoo, although I should now know better, we went to see A Place in the Sun … for once the New York critics and the public are agreed… and I despise it. It’s as slick a piece of bogus self-importance as you’ll ever see.” - Raymond Chandler
Got this beautiful (1951) first edition as an early Christmas present! Early on I was taken aback (but also not so) by the derogatory terms within the text. Come to find out newer editions omit these and specific sexual scenes within the book!
I thought it was fascinating. That and the fact that cigarette is spelled cigaret and the pages feel so smooth, like waxed parchment paper. I’m also learning lots of new words, like millinery. Who would have thought there is a word specifically for the business of selling women’s hats?
I wanted to read the novel after watching Montgomery Clift and Frank Sinatra in the classic film by the same name.
I couldn’t be happier. I also received another book, but I haven’t started it yet!
Ever since Cleopatra, I’ve always been a fan of Elizabeth Taylor, which is why I took the liberty of watching her most notable films, A Place in the Sun dir. George Stevens. Ironically, I keep telling people I’m not a fan of the sappy romance films, but I enjoy watching The Princess Bride and 13 going on 30. A Place in the Sun is without a doubt, not a sappy chick flick because it’s full of ironies, tragedy, and of course lustful romance. Montgomery Clift played George Eastman, a man who comes from a wealthy family, but has nothing until he gets his ‘place in the sun’ when his Uncle promotes him from doing manual labor at his factory and introduces him to high society. And then, there’s the betrayal; our main character falls in love with two women, one who is an ecstatic socialite, Elizabeth Taylor, and the other is a shy factory worker, Shelley Winters.
This scene above is pivotal to the plot and climax of the film. This is where George gets the idea to murder his girlfriend, Shelley Winters, the one he dated first, so he can be with Elizabeth Taylor’s character. The irony is Shelley Winters’ character can’t swim, and her failure to swim was her undoing. Technically, George didn’t murder his girlfriend, but he didn’t rescue her when she drowned. Another irony is after the death of his girlfriend, he too gets executed for his crime. These are the two tragedies of the film the death of a pregnant girlfriend and the death of a man who wanted everything. And there are more ironies to be discussed, one of them being, Shelley Winters’ character threatens to kill herself if George wouldn’t marry her, she also said right after her death scene that maybe it would be easier for him if she were to die. By the way, Winters’ character dies from accidentally capsizing the boat she and George were on in the lake. An additional irony is all of George’s efforts to marry Angela (Elizabeth Taylor) went out in smoke, for their love only lasted for a couple of months–at least. Furthermore, I love the characters of Angela and Alice (Shelley Winters) both are oppositional to each other and were the plot of the story that made the film worth one’s while.
James Dean may be the most iconic actor of the 20th Century. With only three films and a handful of TV roles, he cemented himself as a Hollywood Legend. And his early death in a car accident at the age of 24 frozen his image as a troubled teenager in the minds of his fans.
Although Dean was engaged briefly to Pier Angeli, rumors have swirled that Dean was gay. Some of his friends have said he was straight, others say he was gay for pay or bisexual, and some male friends said that they had sex with him.
Actor Mark Rydell said, “I don’t think he was essentially homosexual. I think that he had very big appetites, and I think he exercised them.”
For me the most convincing confirmation that Dean was gay, is in Elizabeth Taylor’s speech at the GLAAD awards in 2000. In it (at the link below at the 3:15 minute mark) she says, “All of my life I’ve spent a lot of time with gay men… Montgomery Clift, Rock Hudson, Jimmy Dean…”
Joe Hyams (Hollywood columnist and biographer) said that Dean was “one of the rare stars, like Rock Hudson and Montgomery Clift, whom both men and women find sexy”. It’s insightful that both other actors mentioned were gay.
She wanted to marry Monty—she was very much in love with him. He would bring her into Gregory’s and introduce her as Bessie Mae. She wore an awful lot of makeup, she smoked like a fiend, and used more four-letter words than any of us put together, and boy was she gorgeous! I have never seen anybody as beautiful.