A Place in the Sun (1951)

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Released 4-Dec-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-George Stevens And His Place In The Sun
Featurette-George Stevens: Filmakers Who Knew Him (8)
Audio Commentary-George Stevens, Jr. & Ivan Moffat
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1951
Running Time 117:00
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (72:49) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By George Stevens
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Elizabeth Taylor
Montgomery Clift
Shelley Winters
Raymond Burr
Herbert Heyes
Case ?
RPI $24.95 Music Franz Waxman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Danish
German
English
Spanish
French
Italian
Dutch
Norwegian
Swedish
Turkish
English for the Hearing Impaired
German Audio Commentary
English Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
French Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
Spanish Titling
French Titling
Italian Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     A Place In The Sun received no less than 9 Academy Award nominations in 1951 winning 6 Oscars for Best Writing, Best Music, Best Film Editing, Best Costume Design, Best Cinematography and Best Director for George Stevens and missing out on Best Picture as well as Best Actor for Montgomery Clift and Best Actress for Shelley Winters.

    This was an enjoyable film with several extremely tense moments. To say more would be giving away too much of the plot but I can tell you that the film works on two levels; firstly as a love story or perhaps more accurately as a love triangle, and then as a thriller. Excellent performances are provided by all, but especially the three leads, and you can definitely see why this film won so many awards. This is even more impressive when you realise that in 1951 other contenders for awards included An American in Paris, The African Queen and A Street Car Named Desire.

    The story revolves around George Eastman (Montgomery Clift), the poor nephew of Charles Eastman (Herbert Heyes) who is a wealthy swimsuit manufacturer. A chance encounter between the two results in George getting a job on the production line of his uncle's factory. Here he meets and falls in love with another production line worker, Alice Tripp (Shelley Winters). Now this is strictly forbidden by the company rules and the two keep this secret to avoid jeopardising their jobs. Circumstances result in Alice becoming pregnant and when she is unable to procure an abortion there seems no alternative for her but to marry George. Unfortunately, George has now moved up in his uncle's company and has met the extremely beautiful and wealthy socialite Angela Vickers (Elizabeth Taylor). These two find an instant attraction and soon George is faced with the awful situation of trying to untangle himself from Alice so that he can marry Angela and find his much-wanted place in the sun. This situation results in several thrilling moments for the audience but in tragic events for the characters.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a good transfer, and while not without some problems, I'd venture that this is the best this 50 year old film is ever going to look without the expense of a full restoration.

    The transfer has been presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, which is pretty close to its original aspect ratio of 1.37:1, and as such is not 16x9 enhanced.

    For the most part the image is quite sharp but it does lapse on many occasions to a much softer or even fuzzy appearance. Without seeing this theatrically, it's very difficult to determine if this is due to the camera work or if it is a fault with the transfer. Shadow detail is also variable with good detail visible in brighter shots and large segments of unrelieved black often seen in the darker scenes.

    This is a black and white film and I've no complaints with the grey scale on view. Blacks are very solid.

    No MPEG artefacts were noted other than occasional pixelization. There was some very minor aliasing. Given the age of the film, you'd have to expect plenty of film artefacts but in reality there was a smattering of small marks and blobs as well as a few more significant faults with some larger scratches around 38:10 and a blob at 38:08. There's also a long scratch that runs from 75:57 to 76:25. The only major problem is the appearance of pairs of reel change marks roughly every 20 minutes with the first of each pair occurring at 18:59, 38:30, 55:52, 75:48, 93:21, 110:56, and 116:57.

    I checked about 10 minutes each of the English and the English For The Hearing Impaired subtitles which are displayed in easily-read white text and found them to be well timed and reasonably accurate, but not word perfect.

    This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed between Chapters 8 and 9, at 72:49. It is perfectly placed on a fade to black and I'm sure will be completely overlooked by most people.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Once again considering the age of the movie there are no significant flaws. There's also nothing that would make you use this disc as demo material, either.

    I listened to the English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. Not unexpectedly, this is essentially  mono audio with only minor sound emanating from anywhere but the front centre speaker. There is some hiss present but it's not really intrusive unless you turn the sound level up above a typical listening level. Audio tracks are also available in German, Italian, Spanish and French.

    The dialogue was always clear and easy to understand except for one scene, between 28:24 and 28:45, in which one of the characters make a phone call. The voice of the person on the phone is at times very hard to hear and I had to use the subtitles at this point. Expect for few seconds early in the film, I wasn't aware of any problems with the audio sync.

    The musical score by Franz Waxman was in my opinion a bit on the overly dramatic side, but this is fairly typical of films of this era.

    As implied above, you can essentially give both the surrounds and the subwoofer the night off.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Several good quality extras are provided. If you are interested in this particular filmmaker or filmmaking in general, you are sure to find these interesting.

Menu

    The menu is displayed in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. There is neither audio nor animation.

Theatrical Trailer

    Running for 2:34 this has Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound and is displayed in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 without 16x9 enhancement. The audio and picture are both showing their age here.

Featurette-George Stevens And His Place In The Sun

    Running for 22:23, this features interviews with Elizabeth Taylor and Shelley Winters as well as George Stevens Jr. and concentrates mainly on topics surrounding the making of the film. The aspect ratio is 1.33:1 and the audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded.

Featurette-George Stevens: Filmmakers Who Knew Him (8)

    This is displayed in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with some letterboxed 1.78:1 segments. There is no 16x9 enhancement. Both colour and black and white footage is used. Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded. This is exactly as per the title and is very informative with interviews of  Warren Beatty (6:26), Frank Capra (3:09), Rouben Mamoulian (3:00), Joseph L. Mankiewicz (4:08), Alan J. Pakula (11:05), Antonio Vellani (6:03), Robert Wise (5:33) and Fred Zinnemann (4:33).

Audio Commentary-George Stevens, Jr. & Ivan Moffat

    This commentary by the Director's son and collaborator Ivan Moffat is actually quite interesting. It concentrates on the Director's filmmaking techniques (did you know he pioneered the long dissolve, a technique used to good effect in this movie?) and throws in plenty of interesting anecdotes about making the movie and the actors and especially the Director. The commentators stay silent during some of the film's highlights so you can listen to the dialogue. This is subtitled and these are virtually word perfect.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     From the available information it seems that both the R1 and R4 releases are identical in terms of content.

Summary

    A Place In The Sun started off a bit slowly but soon had me engrossed. Recommended both as a good thriller and for anyone interested in seeing some well-known actors in their much younger days.

    The video quality is quite good considering the age of the film.

    The audio quality is quite good also considering its vintage.

    The extras are very satisfactory.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Peter Cole (Surely you've got something better to do than read my bio)
Monday, February 24, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-995
SpeakersFront L&R - B&W DM603, Centre - B&W LCR6, Rear L&R - B&W DM602, Sub - Yamaha YST-SW300

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