Later on I read Dreiser's An American Tragedy and saw the movie again. I liked it even more that time. I think of the book (along with Frank Norris's McTeague, which appeared not long before it) as proto-noir. The movie is shot in black and white (don't let that photo on the left fool you), so it has that in common with noir films along with its plot.
Montgomery Clift is George Eastman, a guy with little education and less money. He gets a job at a relative's factory, proves to be really good at it, and gets promoted. Eventually he's invited to a party with some of the biggies and meets Angela Vickers, played by Elizabeth Taylor. They fall in love. But there's a problem named Alice (Shelly Winters, and if you remember her only from her later years, you should see this movie for that reason alone). Clift has been going with her, and she's hard to shake. Especially when (insert shocking for the 1950's plot development). She threatens to Tell All, and if you've ever read a Gold Medal original, you know what that means. For Clift, it's all downhill from there.
This movie has it all: real movie stars giving fine performances, beautiful B&W photography, doomed love, a social message, and more. Okay, I lied. There are no explosions, no car chases, no zombies. Check it out anyway.