A criminal known as Thunderbolt is imprisoned and facing execution. Into the next cell is placed Bob Moran, an innocent man who has been framed and who is in love with Thunderbolt's girl. ... See full summary »
Young Princess Sophia of Germany is taken to Russia to marry the half-wit Grand Duke Peter, son of the Empress. The domineering Empress hopes to improve the royal blood line. Sophia doesn't... See full summary »
A cowardly young man, a bitter young woman and a helpless child live on the docks, spend their days full of ennui watching a dredge dig the same hole day in and day out, chased around by ... See full summary »
Josef von Sternberg
George K. Arthur,
Josef von Sternberg directed, photographed, provides the voice-over narration and wrote the screenplay (from a based-on-actual event novel by Michiro Maruyana translated by Younghill Kang) ... See full summary »
One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. See more »
To think that it's the same actress who stole the show in the first version of the Dreiser novel,who shone in Lang,Hitchcock or Wyler works, and...landed in Tim Burton's "Mars attacks" where she played the "deus ex machina grandma who single-handedly saved our dear old planet! It's very interesting to compare her performance with that of the great Shelley Winters in Stevens's remake:they give diametrically opposite renditions:Winters' portrayal is that of a vulgar ,crude ,exasperating and even authoritarian woman,almost a shrew;Sidney's girl is exquisite with small eyes longing for happiness and love,a very delicate style of play.
If you've seen the remake before,you will notice big differences:the first one is the part of the wealthy girl:whereas Elizabeth Taylor 's part was very important in "a place in the sun",here Frances Dee does her very short stint,hardly 10 minutes,then they talk about her as "Miss X ", the invisible woman,which prevents us from comparing her with her more famous successor.Philip Holmes was surpassed by Montgomery Clift who gave more intensity,more ambiguity and finally more credibility to a character who is primarily a coward :there's room at the top ,but he's bound to fall because perhaps of his education.From that point of view,"an American tragedy" is more detailed than "a place in the sun" :the hero's mother plays a prominent part and it's finally in his last scenes with her that Philip Holmes transcends a rather monotonous portrayal.The first accident which he was not responsible for is not included in Stevens' version.
If Sidney is the main asset of the movie,its main flaw is the very long trial ,one third of the running time is given over to it,and the defendant's attorney's and the prosecuting attorney's histrionics are sometimes ponderous and seem to come straight from the silent movies .(Sternberg was an important director before and after 1929,the year of the talkies).It's interesting to notice that between 1930 and 1935,it's his only film which does not feature Marlene Dietrich.
All in all, Stevens'"a place in the sun" is a better constructed movie,a better remake,which has become exceptional nowadays,but at least for Sidney, watch this one.
Nb:both movies pass over in silence book one and don't feature the hotel,Hortense ,the pregnant sister ,and the terrible car accident which costs a little girl her life.
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