Saturday, May 19, 2012

Spotlight on: Montgomery Clift

In his first film at 24 years old, still from Red River (1948) actually shot in 1944. 
You knew this day was coming. If you know anything about me you know that I am profoundly and unhealthily obsessed with Montgomery Clift. And when I say obsessed I mean fanatic. I know everything about this man from birth to death but I'm going to keep this short and sweet so I don't drive you crazy and/or make myself look bad. And no I don't get tired of talking about him. Ever. 
Basically every leading man alive today owes something to Montgomery Clift. He was one of the first 'method' actors who studied under Strassberg and ironically people much bigger than him like James Dean and Marlon Brando drew a great deal on his particular style, Dean particularly was said to be obsessed with Monty. 
Suffice it to say that I believe him to be the most beautiful man that ever walked the face of the earth, that's ever, but physical looks only go so far. His magnetism came from the troubled depth with which he approached his craft. 
He was probably the most self-destructive person out there at the time, in fact Marilyn Monroe a close friend of Monty's once quipped that he was 'the one person in Hollywood that's in worse shape than I am'. 
Monty towards the end of his life at 45, post accident. 
By the time he was 36, he was horribly destroyed in a severe car accident which left his million-dollar face disfigured and the 10 years that followed are called 'the longest suicide in Hollywood'. Pills, alcohol, and self-loathing eventually got the best of him and he died alone and naked in his Upper East Side brownstone in 1966, uninsurable, washed up, and without any friends.
His story is a tragic one, but his film legacy is a beautiful one. He was above everything else a beautiful loser. Strangely, he turned down huge huge huge projects like Sunset Blvd. (1950) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) and instead did diabolical films like Raintree County (1956) and Indiscretions of an American Wife (1953), but he was an absolute genius as an actor. I'll just leave it at that, and go watch The Heiress (1948) and have some private time, because I'm going a little weak in the knees just writing this. 
Watch any of his films, I defy you not to form an unhealthy obsession. Seriously, get on it, it's getting kinda lonely up here in crazy land. 

Below is a scene from The Heiress (1949) directed by William Wyler where I believe he's at his absolute best (also his hottest), and the film is pretty amazing watch it. Below that, an interview with a very sick, alcoholic, miserable Monty about a year before he died. 

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