This movie is the first in a season of fresh films and classic cinema at Picturehouse Central, curated by members of the film section of the London Critics' Circle. For the first screening, Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw introduces this George Stevens' film which has, at its heart, two luminous performances from Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor that hold the attention and linger long after the final shot.
The winner of six Oscars (for direction, screenplay, cinematography, score, costumes and editing), it centres on George Eastman (Clift), a shy, slightly awkward Midwesterner who arrives in California hoping for a job in his uncle’s factory. He’s in luck, and though he secretly starts dating assembly-line worker Alice (Shelley Winters) against company rules, he’s soon promoted. That wins him a tentative foothold in the world of his wealthy relatives – where he meets and immediately falls for beautiful socialite Angela (Taylor)... Stevens’ eye for detail is evident in the deft delineation of social divisions and the meticulous characterisation, but what distinguishes the film is the way he homes in – with ravishing close-ups and lingering dissolves suggestive of inexorable destiny – on the rapt, languid, irresistible desire that drives the story. While all the performances are excellent, Taylor and Clift were never better – or lovelier – and their scenes together are memorable for their wounded beauty.
Here (and above) is the trailer.