Monday, August 27, 2012
August 27 is the birthdate of Theodore Dreiser, journalist and novelist of the “naturalist” school that presented social conditions through detailed realism. His first commercial success was An American Tragedy (1925), based on Dreiser’s observations of "fortune hunting” among ambitious young people, resulting in a uniquely American crime of "murder for money." The 1906 murder of Grace Brown by Chester Gillette became the basis of the book. The story was made into a film in 1931 and again in 1951 as “A Place in the Sun,” in which the working-class young man (Montgomery Clift) is fatally involved with two women (Shelley Winters and Elizabeth Taylor). The film was shot in 1949 but Paramount held it back so it would not compete with its own “Sunset Boulevard” (1950).