(On TV, July 2019) I had reasonably high hopes for mid-period noir A Place in the Sun and found myself … underwhelmed. The story of a man pursuing both a working-class and a high-class girl but accidentally killing the less fortunate one when she announces her pregnancy and dashes his hopes of marrying the richer girl (whew!), it’s a film that pretty much does what it says in the plot description. Coming from the depths of the Hays Code era, of course he doesn’t get away with it. It’s a remarkably middle-of-the-road premise for a noir, and it executes it about as competently as you’d expect. The big draw here is a very young Elizabeth Taylor, always stunning, as the high-class girl and Montgomery Clift as the man at the centre of it all, with Shelley Winters as the poor victim. But the exceptional nature of the film stops there. While A Place in the Sun is still watchable, it pales in comparison with many of its more daring (or exploitative) contemporaries. The social commentary is tame, the pacing is incredibly slow and the film can’t help but throw in melodrama when good acting would have sufficed. Any respectable film noir would have lopped off the entire courtroom sequence, going right from arrest to the electric chair, and the film would have been substantially stronger from it: said courtroom sequence adds nothing to the plot and actually distracts from the fatalistic theme of the film, or (as suggested by the title) the perils of American greed. But no; A Place in the Sun is determined to parlay it off all the way to the end. It did do very well at the Academy awards for its year, so at least it’s of historical interest. Still, it could have been quite a bit better had it not tried to be so respectable or overly faithful to its literary source material.