A Place in the Sun (1951)
A Place in the Sun (1951)
A Place in the Sun (1951)
A Place in the Sun (1951)
A Place in the Sun (1951)

Film Studies

Cinema Classics Seminar:
A Place in the Sun

Long Live Liz!
Wednesday, April 24, 2024, 6:30 pm to 10:00 pm  
Instructor: Jennifer Fleeger, Ph.D., Ursinus College

A Place in the Sun (1951) tells the story of a poor young man with a rich uncle who falls in love and ends up condemned, as fate takes over for his ill intentions. Adapted from Theodore Dreiser’s 1925 novel, An American Tragedy—itself rooted in a notorious historical incident—the plot resonates within a broader social context that still has not dissipated. Our seminar will focus on director George Stevens’s portrayal of American families, wealth, desire, and destiny, in this and other films including Giant and Shane 

The actors he uses to explore these themes in A Place in the Sun—Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift, and Shelley Winters—each has their own complicated relationship to traditional American values. Like the discourses that swirled around these stars, some of the material in this film is left unsaid, and our seminar will address how Stevens handles this while remaining in line with the requirements for self-regulation in ‘50s Hollywood.  

Finally, we’ll discuss Stevens’s symbolic presentation of landscape, his emotional use of extreme close-ups, and his manipulation of time with the dissolve. We’ll also address an earlier film with a similar story, F.W. Murnau’s Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, in order to consider the symbolic reflections of this tale in film history. A Place in the Sun earned Stevens the Best Director Oscar, and by the end of the evening, we’ll understand why. 

Are you interested in “just” seeing this movie? Visit the public screening page here.

Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. All students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, those in attendance receive a ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink. Please note: the screening associated with this seminar will be open to the public, as well.

Please email BMFI Programs and Education Coordinator Jill Malcolm with any questions.


Course Information

$25 for members, $35 for non-members


  • Wednesday, April 24 · 6:30 pm