The only person I know who is in worse shape than I am.
- Marilyn Monroe on Montgomery Clift
With only 17 movies to his name, Montgomery Clift would have been a mostly forgotten actor from the post-war era today if it weren't for his enduring performances in those movies. Ofcourse his myth is enhanced by the stories of drug and alcohol abuse, depression, bisexuality and the car crash that changed his life. Most of his roles had a common theme: the suffering, conflicted young man - the kind of roles that Marlon Brando and James Dean also excelled in. The troubled Clift himself said: "Failure and its accompanying misery is for the artist his most vital source of creative energy" - a truth evident in any close-up of that handsome face on screen, his eyes usually doing most of the storytelling.
Clift had a very close friendship with Elizabeth Taylor, with whom he starred in three movies: A Place In the Sun (1951), Raintree Country (1957), and the excellent Suddenly, Last Summer (1959).
I don't think he made a single bad movie but my favourites are I Confess (1951), The Young Lions (1958) and Freud (1962).
The details of his much too short life and the circumstances that led to his premature death are certainly tragic, but his reputation as one of the best actors of his time will remain, along with the image of that haunting beauty.
with Elizabeth Taylor
with Paul Douglas
Monty in happier times with Marlon Brando: