A Place in the Sun (1951) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • A poor boy gets a job working for his rich uncle and ends up falling in love with two women.

  • The young and poor George Eastman (Montgomery Clift) leaves his religious mother and Chicago, Illinois and arrives in California expecting to find a better job in the business of his wealthy uncle Charles Eastman (Herbert Heyes). His cousin Earl Eastman (Keefe Brasselle) advises him that there are many women in the factory and the basic rule is that he must not hang around with any of them. George meets the worker of the assembly line, Alice Tripp (Shelley Winters), in the movie theater and they date. Meanwhile, the outcast George is promoted and he meets the gorgeous Angela Vickers (Dame Elizabeth Taylor) at a party thrown at his uncle's house. Angela introduces him to the local high society and they fall in love with each other. However, Alice is pregnant and she wants to get married to George. During a dinner party at Angela's lake house with parents, relatives, and friends, Alice calls George from the bus station and gives him thirty minutes to meet her; otherwise she will crash the party and tell them what has happened. George is pressed by the situation which ends in a tragedy.

  • A chance meeting with his uncle leads to George Eastman (Montgomery Clift) being caught in the middle of two worlds, neither side in which he truly belongs. The son of poor missionaries, his father who has passed away, George met his wealthy paternal uncle Charles Eastman (Herbert Heyes) while George was working as a bellhop in his uncle's hotel in Chicago, Illinois. Wanting a better life for himself, George takes his uncle up on his offer for a placement somewhere in one of the Eastman factories, Charles' want in this offer being for any Eastman to take his proper place in the world. Under the directive of his cousin Earl (Keefe Brasselle), George is placed on the factory assembly line, largely neglected by the Eastmans as a whole. Regardless, George still does see this position as a stepping stone to something better, for which he is willing to work hard to achieve. George, lonely in his new surroundings, breaks the company rule of no fraternizing with fellow employees when he starts to date fellow Eastman assembly line worker Alice Tripp (Shelley Winters). Several months later, Charles, remembering about his nephew, promotes George both professionally and personally. Although uncomfortable in society gatherings, George eventually is befriended by one person in this new world, the beautiful society maiden Angela Vickers (Dame Elizabeth Taylor), who George fell in love with at first sight even before he arrived in town. Angela too falls in love with George, which does not sit well with her parents if only because they know nothing of him. George is caught between his want for prosperity and being with Angela, the woman he truly loves, and his obligations to needy Alice, who learns of his society friends and Angela, who ends up getting pregnant by him, and who uses whatever means in her limited powers to pressure him to do right by her in marrying her.

  • George Eastman (Montgomery Clift), the nephew of a wealthy industrialist, is excluded from high society and given a blue-collar job at his uncle's factory. While ascending the ranks of the company, George becomes romantically involved with co-worker Alice Tripp (Shelley Winters). However, when he is introduced to socialite Angela Vickers (Dame Elizabeth Taylor), he quickly falls for her, leading to a tragic love triangle.

  • Young up-and-comer George Eastman (Montgomery Clift) is thrust into the blue-collar life of a rich uncle's family business where he's expected to learn the ropes from the bottom up. While paying his dues, Eastman becomes involved with Alice Tripp (Shelley Winters), a simple, trusting girl on the assembly line. When Eastman is finally introduced to high society, he meets the gorgeous, sophisticated Angela Vickers (Dame Elizabeth Taylor) and promptly forgets all about Alice. Only Alice won't be gotten rid of so easily - especially since their affair is about to result in an unexpected and (especially from Eastman) unwanted dividend.

  • George Eastman (Montgomery Clift), an enterprising young man gets a job at his uncle's factory. There he meets Alice Tripp (Shelley Winters), a drab working girl who latches onto him like a clamp. George gets Alice pregnant before falling in love with rich and beautiful d√©butante Angela Vickers (Dame Elizabeth Taylor), the belle of everyone's ball. Alice wants marriage and George wants out and nobody ends up very happy.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • After hitchhiking from Chicago, young George Eastman (Montgomery Clift) arrives at the Eastman bathing suit factory and arranges to visit his uncle Charles (Herbert Hayes), the company's president, at his home that evening. Charles, a tycoon who recently met his nephew for the first time, introduces George to his wife Louise (Kathryn Givney), daughter Marsha (Lois Chartland) and son Earl. The Eastmans gingerly question George about his widowed mother Hannah, a religious mission worker in Chicago, and George, keenly aware of his lowly social position, responds with vague politeness. After Charles insists that Earl, who has a management position at the factory, find a job for his cousin, debutante Angela Vickers (Elizabeth Taylor) enters the room, mesmerizing George with her beauty.

    The next day at the factory, the condescending Earl assigns George to the assembly area, where the bathing suits are put into boxes, and advises him about the strict rules against dating fellow employees. George works tirelessly and at night in his modest apartment, composes a list of suggestions for improving productivity on the assembly benches.

    Yearning to succeed, George drives to the Eastmans' during one of their lavish parties and sees Angela arriving, but cannot bring himself to go inside. Instead, he goes to a movie and ends up sitting next to co-worker Alice Tripp (Shelly Winters). After the movie, George and Alice walk together, and she comments that George will always be different because he is an Eastman. The uneducated George maintains that he is not special and becomes momentarily lost in thought when he notices a boy singing in a sidewalk mission group. George then asks Alice about her life, and she reveals that she came from a poor family and, ironically, never learned how to swim. Outside Alice's furnished room, George and Alice kiss and agree to see each other again. Later, at the end of another date, the couple wind up in Alice's room and spend the night together.

    The next morning at the factory, Charles comes through the assembly area and, seeing George, offers to promote him and invites him to another party. When Alice learns that the party coincides with George's birthday, she reminds him that she had already planned a party for him and insists that he leave the Eastmans' early.

    At the Eastmans', George feels out of place and seeks refuge in the deserted billiard room. While playing pool by himself, George is noticed by Angela, and the two strike up a friendly conversation. Just then, Charles bursts in and insists that George call his mother about his promotion. Though embarrassed, George complies, while Angela hangs on his arm, teasing him. George and Angela spend a few romantic hours dancing, and when George finally shows up at Alice's, she is angry and informs him that she is pregnant. Though stunned, George reassures her, but later accepts Angela's invitation to a party at her parents' house. There, George and Angela confess their love, and George frets that Angela will be leaving soon to spend the summer at her parents' lakeside home. After Angela assures him that they can still see each other, they kiss with deep passion.

    Later, Alice goes to see Dr. Wyeland about her pregnancy, but he insists that he will help her only if she intends to have the baby. Although Alice tells George that he must now marry her, George protests and asks for time. Alice agrees to wait until the first week in September, when George will be taking his vacation.

    Sometime later, Angela drops by George's apartment to tell him that her parents have invited him to visit at the lake during his vacation. George calls Alice and begs for another week, stating that he will be with his uncle at the lake and might get a bonus. Reluctantly Alice complies, and George begins a carefree holiday with Angela.

    At secluded Loon Lake, Angela brings up the subject of marriage and piques George's interest when she tells him about a couple who drowned there the summer before. Alice, meanwhile, waits for mail from George, but instead sees a newspaper photograph of him with Angela. Back at the lake, during a Hawaiian-themed dinner, George receives a phone call from Alice, demanding that he come for her at the bus station. George lies to Angela that his mother is ill, and at the station, Alice threatens to expose George unless he marries her immediately. George gives in, and the next day, he and Alice go to the county courthouse to wed, but discover that it is closed because it is Labor Day.

    Seeing an opportunity, George suggests that they picnic at Loon Lake and spend the night at the lodge. Before reaching the lodge, George then pretends to have run out of gas and rents a boat under an assumed name. George rows Alice to the far side of the lake and, after night falls, listens with growing agitation as she chatters about how happy they are going to be. Sensing George's displeasure, Alice abruptly asks him if he wished she were dead, and George fights to maintain his composure. When Alice suddenly rises to come to him, causing the boat to sway, George tries to stop her, but the boat capsizes. George and Alice both fall into the water, but only George makes it to the shore while Alice drowns. Stumbling in the dark, George walks into a Boy Scout camp before locating his car and driving off.

    The next day, George returns to the Vickers', while at the courthouse, District Attorney R. Frank Marlowe (Raymond Burr) is notified about Alice's death. After questioning the boat keeper and the Boy Scout who saw George, Marlowe concludes that only Alice drowned. Detectives then interrogate Alice's landlady, who repeats gossip that Alice was involved with George. George, meanwhile, has a frank conversation about his background with Angela's father Anthony and impresses him with his honesty. Although Angela is unaware of the murder investigation, George senses the police will soon be closing in on him and asks Angela to believe in him, no matter what she may hear. After she swears her undying love, George says goodbye and is arrested by the police.

    Determined to keep his daughter's name out of the trial, Anthony puts up the money for George's defense. Angela follows the proceedings while in school, but remains dazed by the desperate turn of events. During the trial, several witnesses implicate George as well as the circumstances that he premeditated murdering Alice to free himself from a loveless relationship.

    At the climax of the trial, George takes the witness stand himself where he describes all about his relationship with Alice and Angela as well as the details from that day that Alice drowned by accident and he fled from the scene out of fear of loosing everything including a romance with Angela. But when Marlowe harshly cross-examines him, he brings up the various circumstances (George renting the canoe under a false name, not reporting the accident, etc.) and openly accuses George of bashing in Alice's head before throwing her overboard. George admits that he had thought about killing Alice, but changed his mind before the boat accidentally capsized. Despite his candid testimony, George is convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to die.

    In prison a few weeks later, George is counseled by both his mother and a minister to look into his heart to determine whether he did everything he could to save Alice. Haunted by a vision of Angela, George confesses that he is unsure. Just before his execution, Angela visits George and quietly declares she still loves him. Accepting his fate, George then is led out of his cell to his execution.

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