Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Place in the Sun

I just finished watching A Place in The Sun on DVD with Elizabeth Taylor & Montgomery Cliff. For some reason I had never watched the entire film straight through & happened to pick it up at the library. It's based on a classic book & previous movie called, "An American Tragedy" & almost didn't get made because at that time, 1951, it was unheard of in Hollywood to remake a story; never mind Parts 2, 3 & 4 like some are done over now. I can't really think of ANY remake that has pulled that off very well at the moment.

Anyway, most of you are familiar with the story, but what I didn't know was that the director, George Stevens, had just come back from being a war photographer & documenting D-Day, the liberation of Paris & was one of the first cameras in to Auschwitz, filming the horror of a concentration camp where the fires were still literally burning in the ovens & the Nazi's had just fled.

This obviously changed him dramatically from the cinematographer he was before the war & A Place in the Sun was shaped by this experience. Elizabeth Taylor was just 17 when she was cast in her first role where she 'didn't have a horse or adog as a co-star', & Shelly Winters,a starlet bombshell, got the other main part of the mousy, awkward factory girl by dying her hair brown, dressing down & sitting quietly in a room when the director came in to do the test. He didn't even realize there was someone else in the room until he got up to leave because he thought Winters was a no show. The movie ended up winning 6 Academy awards that year.

I've really come to believe that the extra's on a DVD are almost as important as the movie itself. Often, especially with bigger budget movies, you can turn a commentary on & the director & some of the actors will literally walk you through the movie. I've never sat through a whole movie again with this turned on, but if there are things I don't get, it's helpful to hear what they have to say later. Also, there are often screen tests of the actors for their parts or interviews.

The best one I have EVER seen was of Penelope Cruz for the movie Don't Move; I've purposely left the following clip in Spanish so you don't listen to her words but watch her & her lovers faces.

She's talking about being raped by her father to her lover, a married Doctor, who lives in a completely different world from her in a slum barrio, but at this moment I believe the relationship changes from lust to love, on his part anyway.

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