One of the greatest actors of his generation, Montgomery Clift – beautiful and broken, the mould of the leading actor would never look the same again:
Before James Dean and (just) before Brando hit the screens, Monty was already smoldering away at the edges of conventional depictions of masculinity with his deeply affecting portrayals delivered in a style of quiet intensity that would visibly shake him and bring out beads of sweat from both his and the viewers brow… (see the scene in A Place in the Sun where the effort, the painful, painful effort of kissing Elizabeth Taylor makes for visible perspiration):
After a horrific car crash (leaving a party at Elizabeth Taylor’s house) that left him disfigured, Monty became increasingly dependent on alcohol and prescription drugs – a condition that spelled ruin for his career when, in 1962, a disgruntled John Huston effectively ended Clift’s career after his unreliable on-set behaviour became too much for Huston to bear. Following Huston’s Freud, Monty never found an insurance company that would be willing to cover him for a film again. He died in 1966, aged just 45.
A Place In The Sun (1951) – directed by George Stevens (East of Eden, Shane), co-starring Elizabeth Taylor and Shelly Winters (Lolita). Clift was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
Confessions of an American Wife (1953) – directed by Vittorio de Sica (Bicycle Thieves), co-starring Jennifer Jones (Duel in the Sun).
From Here To Eternity (1953) – directed by Fred Zinnemann (High Noon), co-starring Burt Lancaster, Deborah Kerr but Frank Sinatra. Clift was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
Suddenly Last Summer (1959) – directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz (All About Eve, Guys and Dolls), co-starring Elizabeth Taylor and Katherine Hepburn. Based on the play by Tennessee Williams.
The Misfits (1961) – directed by John Huston, co-starring Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable and Thelma Ritter. This was to be both Marilyn and Clark Gable’s final film.
Judgement at Nuremberg (1961) – directed by Stanley Kramer (Inherit the Wind, Defiant Ones) – co-starring Burt Lancaster, Judy Garland, Spencer Tracy, Richard Widmark and Maximilian Schell. Clift was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
Freud (1962) – directed by John Huston. This was to be Clift’s last film in America – he made only one film after this, before dying in 1966, black-listed by Huston; unable to find an insurance company willing to cover him.