Montgomery Clift

Am going through a bit of an old movie binge at the moment and Montgomery Clift is the focus.  Last Sunday I watched Suddenly Last Summer again and last night I watched A Place In The Sun, both movies starring Clift and Elizabeth Taylor. From the moment Clift turns to face the camera in A Place In The Sun, you are completely captivated by his astonishing face and remarkable naturalness on screen.

Montgomery Clift’s acting career started on Broadway at the age of 13 and he made his film debut ten years later in Red River, starring John Wayne.  He quickly rose to star status in Hollywood due to a rare combination of brooding good looks and incredible acting talent.  Nominated for an Academy Award four times, Clift never won but he is widely acknowledged as being one of the best screen actors of his generation.

Taylor and Clift were best friends and starred in three movies together.  In 1956 after leaving a party at Elizabeth Taylor’s, while they both were in the middle of filming Raintree County, he nodded off behind the wheel of his 1955 Buick, and drove head-on into a telephone pole by the side of the road near Taylor’s home in Beverly Hills. Taylor heard the crash and ran to help him.  She pulled him out from underneath the dashboard, and nursed his badly disfigured head until the ambulance arrived.

After that accident things took a downturn for Clift.  He was permanently scarred from the car crash, and that in turn impacted his career.  His drinking and dependence on prescription medication increased and he became known in the movie industry as an unreliable alcoholic.  While making The Misfits with Marilyn Monroe, her last movie before her death, she remarked that he was “the only person I know who is in worse shape than I am”.

Mongomery Clift died on July 23rd 1966 at just 45 years old.  The cause of death was reported as a heart attack brought on by coronary artery disease.

I would highly recommend any of the films mentioned above.  In addition, although he was severely alcoholic and unable to remember most of his lines, he still delivers an amazing performance in Judgment at Nuremburg, his second last film.


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