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Great Characters Wiki

George Eastman is the main protagonist of the 1951 film A Place in the Sun. He's a laboring wage slave, and an aspiring, upwardly-mobile, lonely working-class man with evangelical roots and is obsessed with getting ahead and 'making it. He's also the nephew of Charles Eastman, the owner of a bathing-suit manufacturing factory.

He's loosely based on the real-life murderer Chester Gillette.

He was portrayed by Montgomery Clift.

Why He Rocks

  1. As this particular character is loosely based on Clyde Griffiths from the famous novel The American Tragedy, who in turn is based on Chester Gillette, the transition of the character to the big screen was handled fairly well. Also, it should be noted that Eastman is intentionally made more sympathetic and is easier to empathize with than his monstrous real-life counterpart. Usually this would be an instant red flag, but here his nasty actions are still shown, and the character becomes more complex as a result.
  2. Montgomery Clift is absolutely amazing as his character, and he manages to make you completely feel his pain in his troubles.
  3. His stands out amongst his uncle's famous, wealthy side of the family as being socially insecure and fairly poor, (to the point where's he's had to work as a bellhop at a Chicago hotel). and even when he's eventually allowed to work his wealthy uncle's factory, he's still very lonely as he's not allowed to socially interact with the female workers (which 90% of the employees are), as he felt that be secretly hanging out with Alice, he could fight back against mutual loneliness. And that's not even getting into his early life where his parents mainly dedicated their lives to religious work and he went to school until he was 13. Since then, he'd take any kind of job he could get to earn some money for the family (he was bus boy, elevator operator and a caddy with no training or proper education).
  4. Despite having quite a bit of flaws and corrupting factors, he's still a fairly good person based on how he's seen treating Angela Vickers and Alice Tripp, and especially falling in love with the former. It got to the point where even though he wanted to drown Alice to be free to marry Angela, he's ultimately unable do such a thing.
  5. He's a great example of a compelling and intriguing tragic figure who slowly causes his own downfall. Specifically, he was a well-meaning factory worker with a rough life who just happened to get into a relationship with a female worker named Alice (dispute the restriction) and had sex with her, which would later come back to bite him. Then after meeting a Angela, a wealthy and generous woman and being introduced by her to the rich life, they'd fall in love with other and promise to stay in touch. Unfortunately, Alice had gotten pregnant from the duo's sex, leaving him tormented by a decision he had to make between a future in poverty married with pregnant Alice and the opportunity of "a place in the sun" with Angela. He had once tried eliminating his problem by attempting to drown Alice so he could be with Angela -- and though he couldn't go through with the plan, she drowned anyway. Later on, he's accused of murdering Alice for similar reasons and ends up getting a death sentence for his false crime.
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