Saturday, October 6, 2012

10 Things You Might Not Know About Montgomery Clift

Ten things you might not know about Montgomery Clift, the devastatingly handsome and intense actor who starred in classics like From Here to Eternity and A Place in the Sun:

1. His two favorite words were "fuck" and "shit."

2. It drove his mother crazy when he wore t-shirts or khakis. She wanted him dressed like a gentleman at all times.

3. Born in Omaha but raised largely in Europe, he spoke French and German fluently, and spoke with an English accent as a young man.

4. He wanted to play Hamlet and could recite most of Shakespeare's play from memory - but he never actually starred in a production of it.

5. To prepare for Lonelyhearts, he read every novel Nathanael West had written.

6. He excelled at skiing and tennis.

7. His favorite singer was Ella Fitzgerald.

8. The playwright he most admired was Anton Chekhov.

9. He slept naked and had a tendency to sleepwalk, leading to some awkward nights in hotels.

10. Even though he thought James Dean was "weird" and consciously imitating Monty himself, he was terribly upset when told that Dean had died.


Patricia Bosworth's book is an intense and, at times, disturbing biography. It's quite appropriate that Clift played Freud, since his life was a psychoanalyst's dream come true. He was unusually close with his twin sister Ethel and brother Brooks. He had wild mood swings, exacerbated by alcohol and drug abuse and by health problems, including a thyroid disorder. He could be sweet, tender and childlike one minute and then vicious (especially with words) the next. He was as insecure as he was gorgeous.

In real life, I probably wouldn't have liked him very much. But I'll never have to worry about that, because he died when my parents were 13 and 14. In my imagination, I'd like to do things with him that were almost certainly illegal in the 1950s.

That's the wonderful thing about movies - they capture beautiful people when they are young, beautiful and intensely talented. There will never be a time when people will say "Montgomery Clift was not a good actor." In fact, he was one of the best ever.

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Hollywood Classics Title Index to All Movies Reviewed in Books 1 - 24 by John Howard Reid. $0.99 from
Another essential book for a film buff's library, this one is packed with information and reviews. Some of the entries are quite extensive. JHR provides all the information you need, including complete cast and production staff. I find JHR's information invaluable. I like to read not only who acted in a movie, but who made it, both top-billed and lesser mortals. -- Ross Adams in DRESS CIRCLE mag.


p.m.terrell said...

Loved this post, Erin! My mother idolized Montgomery Clift. I saw him in a few movies as I was growing up and found this post, the video and the "10 Things" very interesting. Thanks for sharing!

Erin O'Riordan said...

I didn't really know about him at all until I read 'From Here to Eternity' and then watched the movie, but now I'm pretty fascinated.