Montgomery Clift

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The Heiress : 1949 Movie Poster, Olivia de Havilland left , Montgomery Clift right

Edward Montgomery Clift (born October 17, 1920 in Omaha , Nebraska , † July 23, 1966 in New York City , New York ) was an American film and stage actor, one of the first to devote himself to method acting . Clift played particularly often sensitive and tragic young men; In the course of his film career, which was relatively small in scope, he received a total of four Oscar nominations.


Montgomery Clift was already a well-known theater actor with more than ten years of stage experience when he made his first film. In 1935, at the age of 15, he played his first leading role on Broadway in the play Fly Away Home . He had his last Broadway appearance in 1945 in the play You Touched Me by Tennessee Williams, based on a story by DH Lawrence .

He made his first film in 1948, directed by Howard Hawks . He appeared in the Western Red River at the side of John Wayne and Walter Brennan in the role of Matthew Garth , the adopted son of the great ranger Tom Dunson portrayed by John Wayne , who rebelled against his foster father during a cattle drive and thereby won his respect and becomes an equal partner. Clift didn't know much about Hawks and Wayne and called them "fascists". The film itself turned the 28-year-old into an overnight star who was predicted to have a great future.

His first Oscar nomination received Clift for his role in The Drawn (The Search) from the same year in which it has a GI played, which in post-war Germany of Prague assumes boy who was separated from his parents.

Filmed in October 1949 film A Place in the Sun (A Place in the Sun) based on the novel An American Tragedy (An American Tragedy) by Theodore Dreiser came after endless cut corrections by director George Stevens in 1951 in theaters and brought Clift, another Oscar nomination. According to Charlie Chaplin , Stevens created a masterpiece with this film.

In the crime I confess (I Confess) from 1953, in which Alfred Hitchcock directed, and for George Tabori had written the script, played Clift priest Michael Logan , who is suspected of murder. Although he knows the murderer, he cannot go to the police with his knowledge because the murderer confessed to him in the confessional and, as a Catholic priest , he is bound by the confessional secret . In addition to Montgomery Clift, Karl Malden worked as a police officer, Anne Baxter as the priest's former lover and OE Hasse as a murderer.

Following that was directed by Fred Zinnemann , the film From Here to Eternity (From Here to Eternity) . It was a film adaptation of a well-known novel by James Jones . The events took place in Pearl Harbor at the time of World War II just before the attack on Pearl Harbor . Clift played the soldier Prewitt, a former boxer transferred to Pearl Harbor. He got into trouble there at the base because he refused to resume his career as a boxer. Montgomery Clift was nominated for an Oscar for the third time for the role of the soldier Prewitt, who insists on his individuality . Beside him, among others, Deborah Kerr , Burt Lancaster and Frank Sinatra worked with; Ernest Borgnine took on the role of the sadistic sergeant "Fatso" Judson . Sinatra received an Oscar for best supporting role for his portrayal of the cheeky soldier Angelo Maggio , who stands by Prewitt and is later beaten to death by Sergeant Judson. Clift is said to have turned down the lead role in Beyond Eden , the film that would star James Dean in 1955.

In 1956 - while filming the epic The Land of the Rain Tree (Raintree County) - Clift suffered a serious car accident from which he never recovered mentally . After a party at Elizabeth Taylor's , he hit a telephone pole in his car. Taylor provided first aid and removed two teeth from Clift's throat. As a result of the injuries and the scarred cuts, his physiognomy changed ; his nose was broken two times and his jaw four times. Because his jaw had to be held together with wire, he suffered severe pain, which he numbed with alcohol and pills. In this way he became addicted until the end of his life. Raintree County contains scenes filmed before and after the accident that show the difference in looks and feel at Clift. Clift had nine weeks to recover before being back on camera. Raintree County is set in the American Civil War in the southern states , and in it Clift embodies the idealistic poet John Shaugnessy , who searches for the golden rain tree after which the country was named. Clift appeared alongside Rod Taylor , Eva Marie Saint, and Elizabeth Taylor. He had a close friendship with the latter throughout his life.

In The Young Lions he played in 1958 on the side of Dean Martin and Marlon Brando . Brando and Clift were considered the actors of their generation. Both came from Omaha and had studied in the Actor's Studio. In the film, Clift played the American Jew Noah Ackermann, who had to fight as a soldier in Europe. He falls in love with Hope and they both have a daughter. Ackermann survived a difficult time in the Army, during which he was cut, robbed and, knowing his captain, beaten by his comrades.

In his third film with Elizabeth Taylor, Suddenly, Last Summer (Suddenly Last Summer) , the film adaptation of a stage play by Tennessee Williams , played Clift a brain surgeon at the direction of a rich aunt ( Katharine Hepburn ) in their niece (Elizabeth Taylor) a lobotomy should undertake so that she cannot reveal anything about the death of her homosexual cousin.

In the 1961 drama Misfits , Montgomery Clift, Clark Gable and Eli Wallach played three men who had failed in life and who fell in love with a young woman played by Marilyn Monroe . The film was directed by John Huston based on an original screenplay by Arthur Miller , who was married to Monroe. Monroe said of Clift that he was "the only person who was worse off than me".

Clift received another Oscar nomination (this time for Best Supporting Actor) as well as a BAFTA and a Golden Globe nomination for his role of a disabled person who had been forcibly sterilized by the National Socialists in the film The Judgment of Nuremberg (Judgment at Nuremberg) .

In Freud, directed by John Huston, he played the psychiatrist Sigmund Freud . The film describes the development of psychoanalysis and Freud's life in the 1890s . This film ruined the already problematic career of the actor, who was widely considered to be highly talented. Clift has been charged with delaying filming for drug abuse, which allegedly resulted in horrific costs. However, Huston had problems with Clift's homosexuality after it became evident to him, and he kept rewriting Clift's text passages. A series of lawsuits between Clift and the studio resulted in Clift being unable to make a film for four years. Clift was finally right on the matter. His last film was the 1966 agent film Silent Guns (The Defector) .

In 1964 he worked with Jessica Tandy and Julie Harris in the radio play production of Tennessee Williams ' The Glass Menagerie , in which he took on the role of son and narrator.

On July 23, 1966, Montgomery Clift was found dead in his apartment (217 East 61st Street); he had suffered a heart attack. He died shortly before the filming of the drama Reflections in a Golden Eye (Reflections in a Golden Eye) , which would have been directed by John Huston, his fourth film with Elizabeth Taylor and his third. Clift's role as Major Penderton was then taken on by Marlon Brando.

In total, Clift made only 17 films. Despite his good looks, talent and some initial successes, his Hollywood career failed; especially since he obviously had no interest in playing the typical heterosexual lover roles (through which, for example, the homosexual Rock Hudson became very popular). Clift has often been described as an unhappy person with major mental health problems.




  • 1949 nominated for Best Actor for The Search
  • 1951 nominated for best leading actor for Ein Platz an der Sonne
  • 1953 nominated for Best Actor for Forever Damned
  • 1962 nominated as best supporting actor for The Judgment of Nuremberg


  • 1962 nominated as best leading actor for The Judgment of Nuremberg

Golden Globe Award

  • 1962 nominated as best supporting actor for The Judgment of Nuremberg

Clift has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (6104 Hollywood Boulevard).


  • Clift's ancestors and relatives include politicians and officers Montgomery Blair , Francis Preston Blair, Jr., and Benjamin Gratz Brown .
  • On their 1979 album London Calling have The Clash released a song about Montgomery Clift called "The Right Profile".
  • Another REM song is also about Montgomery Clift: "Monty Got a Raw Deal" (1992; freely translated: Monty played badly) .
  • Montgomery Clift is also mentioned in the track "Conrad" (a track from the album "Orange Rhyming Dictionary") by the Jets to Brazil .
  • The Croatian rock band Prljavo Kazalište immortalized Montgomery Clift in their song “Dobar vjetar u leđa” (loosely translated: “Good tailwind”) as an ideal image for masculinity.
  • Also Eartha Kitt sings the actor in her song "Monotonous".
  • Clift had a twin sister named Roberta, whose name was changed to Ethel due to family disputes.

Web links

Commons : Montgomery Clift  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. [1]
  2. Capua, Michelangelo (2002). Montgomery Clift: A Biography. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-1432-1 , p. 92
  3. Infosite Princeton ( Memento of the original of November 8, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. Lyrics (Croatian) on, accessed on December 12, 2014
  5. Music video ,, accessed December 12, 2014