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Montgomery Clift: A Biography

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...Because of Bosworth's artistry, her ability to choose the right details, and her own immersion in the subject...this book is an excursion into a life. -New York Times Book Review It stands as the definitive work on the gifted, haunted actor. -L ...Because of Bosworth's artistry, her ability to choose the right details, and her own immersion in the subject...this book is an excursion into a life. -New York Times Book Review It stands as the definitive work on the gifted, haunted actor. -L


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...Because of Bosworth's artistry, her ability to choose the right details, and her own immersion in the subject...this book is an excursion into a life. -New York Times Book Review It stands as the definitive work on the gifted, haunted actor. -L ...Because of Bosworth's artistry, her ability to choose the right details, and her own immersion in the subject...this book is an excursion into a life. -New York Times Book Review It stands as the definitive work on the gifted, haunted actor. -L

30 review for Montgomery Clift: A Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nisha-Anne

    If you read any biography of Montgomery Clift, read this one. The rest don't matter. I spent half of this book wanting to cry. For the sheer pain and loss of it, of watching this car crash happen for ten years and even for years before then, of yearning for him to make good, for him to be the hero you always sensed in the movies that he wanted to be even if the movie journeys ended in tragedy themselves. It's such an accomplishment of a book, how it manages to work so much detail and so much inti If you read any biography of Montgomery Clift, read this one. The rest don't matter. I spent half of this book wanting to cry. For the sheer pain and loss of it, of watching this car crash happen for ten years and even for years before then, of yearning for him to make good, for him to be the hero you always sensed in the movies that he wanted to be even if the movie journeys ended in tragedy themselves. It's such an accomplishment of a book, how it manages to work so much detail and so much intimacy into a perfectly organic narrative without any sense of enforced structure or laboured pace. I'm used to reading Donald Spoto's meticulously footnoted and referenced biographies. I've read a lot of biographies. And this is a style I've never encountered before --- at once effortless and deceptively skilful. What did astonish me though was the curious anonymity given to so many people, so many lovers of both male and female persuasions, partners not just one night stands. I'm so used to people being specifically identified and sourced. Here it took me ages to realise that ah, this was published a mere twelve years after Montgomery's death, wasn't it? So all those people would still be alive at the time of publication and be affected by having their names mentioned in specifically sexual or homosexual or otherwise incriminating contexts. What a strange notion that was for me, so used to reading biographies written some twenty, forty years after the death of the person in question. It's one thing to know objectively and intellectually that the Fifties and Sixties was a time of homophobia and pervasive stigmatised silence. It's entirely another thing to be immersed in a book that lays out the hideous reality of living in those times. The utter casualness and matter-of-factness of the homophobia made me sick to my stomach, things that were said and done by huge big film legends, accumulated and accumulated until I wanted to throw up, nearly in tears because my god, I am so lucky to be living in this day and age and Montgomery Clift was so horrifically unlucky to be living in that day and age that he could say and no doubt believe that "there is a deep-seated prejudice against homosexuality ... While there may be tolerance for it privately, it will never be accepted in even the most liberated circles." That upset me very very badly. Fifty years later, yes, we're still fighting to legalise gay marriage but at least now there is at least the semblance and the expectation of social acceptance. If he had just lived those fifty years more, if he could at least have lived to see the anti-discrimination laws come in. My god. The increasing sordidness was hard to read. And I am so grateful to Patricia Bosworth for not flinching from the reality but still giving me enough detail without being gross or salacious about it. Yes, a few times I had to actually re-read a phrase to make sure I had actually seen what I thought I saw, to check the appalling image in my head against the word image on the page. And yeah, I hadn't read wrong. It's a remarkably lucid portrait of a man who was apparently anything but lucid about his own psychology. Who could turn it outwards and project an immense sensitivity and psychological awareness in his craft but apparently never ever revealed how he may have turned the same light to bear on his own workings. If he did at all. And that, god, hurts me all over again. All that could have been if he had just ... tried differently, if he had just been given the right coping mechanisms and had the sense to recognise and implement them. The portrayal of addiction was equally unflinching and, as hard as it was for me to watch that decades-long car crash, I am so grateful to Bosworth for setting it out on the page, for never shortcutting and never turning this man I adore into a cariacature. She wrote about him and his life with a very discreet sympathy. I like that so much. It would have been so easy to demonise him, to ridicule him. But I never got that sense and I'm very glad for that. My copy is quite old and battered and has a rather startling amount of missed words, misspellings and general typos. That didn't diminish the power of the narrative at all. And I liked very much the cast of thousands that is so real to a human life, the excellent handling of individual biographical information, the setting of place and evocation of mood, the utter seamlessness of quotes and anecdotes. Perhaps the academic nerd in me would have liked to know exactly when that person said that and to whom but I soon forgot that in the sheer ease of the style. Most of all, I loved the ending. Because rather unconsciously I was bracing myself for some soppy summation of his legacy and his character and the tragedy of his life, oh noes oh woes oh great and glorious grandeur of everlasting influence, etc. As if I needed still to be convinced how important this man was and is to cinema and to artistry. So imagine my surprise when the book ended with a precise shut after the funeral. Bosworth doesn't need to repeat how hugely influential or how important Montgomery Clift was and is as an actor and a talent. She has the wisdom and the elegance and the class to realise it's all been said in the preceding four hundred pages. And in a way, I kind of feel like ending it as abruptly as that, on such a poignant image, showed me how she felt the loss of him too. It consoles me somewhat. Now like I feel I've lost him all over again. But as Maya Angelou said about another great talent who let drugs and dependency take his life, "We had him. Beloveds, we had him." And that is precious, the gift of a talent realised so fiercely. 2018 update: Everyone who reads this biography needs to watch Making Montgomery Clift. I’ll certainly be rereading this with a different more critical perspective once I get to see the documentary.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Libya Elarbi

    Ah, Montgomery Clift; arguably the most gifted actor of the modern age. A man who remains an enigmatic, elusive figure to this very day. There’s not much to say about Montgomery Clift that hasn’t already been said in this remarkably crafted, meticulously researched biography. He was a natural actor, a born mimic, who was somehow able to define the complexities of the human psyche through the art of make-believe. He personified the non-conformists, the loners; tortured, brooding young men, like t Ah, Montgomery Clift; arguably the most gifted actor of the modern age. A man who remains an enigmatic, elusive figure to this very day. There’s not much to say about Montgomery Clift that hasn’t already been said in this remarkably crafted, meticulously researched biography. He was a natural actor, a born mimic, who was somehow able to define the complexities of the human psyche through the art of make-believe. He personified the non-conformists, the loners; tortured, brooding young men, like the character of George Eastman (the cold blooded fortune hunter) he played in ‘A Place in the Sun’. He represented a new kind of man, sensitive and androgynous; rebellious yet reasoned and oblique. I don’t know what it was, when I first saw a photo of Montgomery Clift, that compelled me to delve deeper into his life; to educate myself on the subject of his artistry. Whatever it may have been, in due course I found myself infatuated by not only his films and assiduous approach to acting, but by the man himself. His personal relationships, his family, his repudiation of the Hollywood establishment, its contemptuous attitude towards actors and exasperation with the way he was depicted by the press; who he believed not only had him completely misunderstood, but were also actively fabricating stories about his personal life that had very little likeness to reality. His reign as a lead actor was the bridge between the studio and classically trained actors of the 1930’s and 40’s. He was at the forefront of bringing method acting into the mainstream, along with his contemporaries: Marlon Brando and James Dean. It’s hard to believe that I’ll ever read a biography as gratifying as this one. I applaud Patricia Bosworth for being so thorough in her research, for leaving no stone unturned yet still retaining an appropriate amount of respect for the subject. The amount of detail, intimate and otherwise, was absolutely extraordinary. Every chapter, every page was full to the brim with fascinating information, my entire copy is riddled with hasty, streaks of yellow highlighter. Besides the main themes throughout the book such as, his love-hate relationship with his mother, chronic alcoholism, momentous contributions to acting and inner torment over his sexuality; I found the little things, trivial facts here and there, to be equally as interesting. A 1928 trip to Paris awakened his passion for theater, he led many lives with different people and kept them all compartmentalized individually. He had very expensive tastes, which included buying caviar and goose liver by the pound, his idol was Laurence Olivier. But the parts chronicling his friendship with Elizabeth Taylor were particularly indelible. I found it endearing how much Elizabeth cared for him and him for her, so much so that she put her own career on the line to make sure he was able to act again. His relationship with Libby Holman was also interesting, she revered Montgomery as the most brilliant actor of his generation, he was fascinated by her lurid past. Patricia Bosworth sets forth his life in such a way that all celebrities would strive to be portrayed by their respective biographers. In no way does she aim to be gossipy or salacious, it is an honest and candid profile of a man who had so much to offer yet was not able to in his full capacity. To read Montgomery Clift by Patricia Bosworth is to be caught in a perpetual state of awe and anguish. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Denis

    There’s a reason why this biography is considered, since its publication decades ago, as one of the very best ever written about a Hollywood personality. Bosworth has written a masterful book, which should be a model for any biographer. Written with great clarity and simplicity, yet always with style and intelligence, Clift goes behind the romantic myth of one of the great actors of the post-war era to deliver a stunningly powerful portrait – at the same time devastating, shocking, heartbreaking There’s a reason why this biography is considered, since its publication decades ago, as one of the very best ever written about a Hollywood personality. Bosworth has written a masterful book, which should be a model for any biographer. Written with great clarity and simplicity, yet always with style and intelligence, Clift goes behind the romantic myth of one of the great actors of the post-war era to deliver a stunningly powerful portrait – at the same time devastating, shocking, heartbreaking, and hypnotic. Monty Clift is a magnificent but complicated subject. His beauty, his talent, the complexity of his personality, his inner pain and demons, have somehow helped him, movie after movie, to create an unforgettable image on screen, but they have also turned his private life into a free fall into the abyss, and sometimes into true hell. His self-destruction is difficult to read about. Bosworth, with respect and empathy, yet also with open eyes and honesty, has somehow managed to get to the core of who M.Clift was, and to reveal what a beautiful, tormented, sad man he was. I will never watch a movie with Montgomery Clift the same way after having read this book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra Richland

    One of the greatest, under-appreciated actors ever is Montgomery Clift. He lived such a tragic life, that his untimely death at the age of 46 came as no surprise to his friends and family. Clift was fragile and conflicted and unfortunately he turned to drugs and alcohol to deal with the pain. He was always a weak man to begin with, due to the way his mother treated him growing up so a lot of people remarked early on in his career that Hollywood would end up destroying him - how right they were. One of the greatest, under-appreciated actors ever is Montgomery Clift. He lived such a tragic life, that his untimely death at the age of 46 came as no surprise to his friends and family. Clift was fragile and conflicted and unfortunately he turned to drugs and alcohol to deal with the pain. He was always a weak man to begin with, due to the way his mother treated him growing up so a lot of people remarked early on in his career that Hollywood would end up destroying him - how right they were. His terrible car crash in 1957 that left him disfigured was the catalyst for his downward spiral even though his depression and abuse of alcohol and pills started many years before that. The once perfectly handsome leading man was forced to look at himself everyday in the mirror and realize that the exciting days he expereinced and didn't appreciate before, were never to come around again. However aside from all this tragedy, Clift was a wonderful, captivating actor. Brando once said that Clift was his only competition - but sadly, Monty isn't remembered or appreciated as much as Brando. Even James Dean, the young rebel who only made three films before his tragic death at agr 24 in 1955, is remembered and more highly regarded than Clift- ridiculous! That is so sad because Brando and Clift were both at the top of the list as far as male acting talent went but Clift never received the same recognition from people after his death like Brando did. Patricia Bosworth has an underlying affection for Monty laced within these pages and she presents details of his life evenly and effectively. The pages describing the last few years of Monty's life were truly heartbreaking and very very depressing but you still come away from the book with a wonderful appreciation for Monty as an actor. Red River, A Place In The Sun, The Misfits are striking examples of how brilliant this man was and I really think that reading Bosworth's biography of Monty will either make your appreciation of him grow more, or it will introduce new fans to how wonderful an actor he really was.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lucas

    I know, I know, I know --you probably figure most biographers are hacks and they are but Patricia Bosworth is as hard-boiled as Dick Francis. She knows how to cut to the point and skip all the shit.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Powanda

    An exemplar celebrity biography, both well-written and thoroughly-researched. It's balanced, entertaining, and informative. It relies heavily on letters and interviews; in many ways, Clift tells much of his own painful story. The book also sheds light on life in Manhattan and Hollywood in the Fifties. In addition to stories about Clift, a pivotal actor of that period, Bosworth shares countless fascinating stories about other famous and not-so-famous people in Clift's orbit, including Liz Taylor, An exemplar celebrity biography, both well-written and thoroughly-researched. It's balanced, entertaining, and informative. It relies heavily on letters and interviews; in many ways, Clift tells much of his own painful story. The book also sheds light on life in Manhattan and Hollywood in the Fifties. In addition to stories about Clift, a pivotal actor of that period, Bosworth shares countless fascinating stories about other famous and not-so-famous people in Clift's orbit, including Liz Taylor, Thornton Wilder, Marlon Brando, Kevin McCarthy (from Invasion of the Body Snatchers), and torch singer Libby Holman (who was even more interesting than Clift). The book is frank and honest in its handling of Clift's relationships with men and women, without resorting to lurid details (except for one really disturbing story toward the end of the book about Clift's trip to a gay bar on Christopher Street called "Dirty Dick's"). I had always considered Clift gay (as did Clift), so I was surprised to learn that Clift's relationships with men were fleeting, but his relationships with women (such as Liz Taylor, whom he endearingly nicknamed Bessie Mae) were deeper and enduring, some lasting decades. Before Clift went to Hollywood, he drank milk only. After he became a star, he quickly became a pill-head and blackout drunk. It's amazing Clift was able to function at all given the amount of drugs and alcohol he consumed. The book caused me to rewatch several of Clift's movies, such as The Search and A Place in the Sun, to assess the quality of his performances. He was a genuinely talented method actor, notable for his androgynous, quirky, and vulnerable qualities. It's sad that his closeted lifestyle, horrific car accident, drug and alcohol abuse, and health problems prevented him from achieving greater success and personal happiness. This is one of the best celebrity biographies I've read, so I'll definitely give Bosworth's other books a try.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Evan

    Maybe it's my underdog complex, but I'm obsessed with Montgomery Clift and I'll argue until I'm blue in the face that at his best ("Red River," "The Search," "From Here to Eternity," "A Place in the Sun") he was better than Brando and Dean. Still, he only made 17 movies, and some of them were uninspired, a few of them even bad. Clift died suddenly in his sleep at age 46, putatively of cardiac failure, though it is well known that his deteriorating health had much to do with his long history of d Maybe it's my underdog complex, but I'm obsessed with Montgomery Clift and I'll argue until I'm blue in the face that at his best ("Red River," "The Search," "From Here to Eternity," "A Place in the Sun") he was better than Brando and Dean. Still, he only made 17 movies, and some of them were uninspired, a few of them even bad. Clift died suddenly in his sleep at age 46, putatively of cardiac failure, though it is well known that his deteriorating health had much to do with his long history of drug and alcohol abuse. When I want to be reminded of how brilliant Monty Clift was I watch the billiard room scene from "A Place in the Sun" (1951). It's in my opinion the single greatest exposition of acting in the history of cinema. It's one of those scenes in which, for a moment, you're persuaded that the actor doesn't know he's being filmed. I digress; just watch it. I believe Bosworth's bio of Clift may be the first one published after his death. Either she or LaGuardia owns that distinction. This book was recommended to me by my dear friend, Tom Cascione, who described it as the best Hollywood bio he'd ever read. I wouldn't go that far, but it's a worthwhile read and fills certain holes in the retelling of Monty Clift's odd and tragic life story. Bosworth delivers a pretty detailed examination of Clift's childhood. It's weird stuff that I can most aptly and succinctly summarize this way: Clift's mom was adopted but learned she was the direct descendent of a distinguished and wealthy Civil War military family. She had been promised an introduction to these family members by an aunt, but this day wouldn't come until and unless she trained her kids to be proper aristocrats. Thus, from a young age Monty and his two sibling were carted around the world to experience European culture. This included private lessons in various languages and proper domestic habits. I'm not sure what effect, if any, this had on Monty as an adult. He was notorious for avoiding discussion of his childhood and his mother. Bosworth isn't over-analytical, but her unearthing of previously unknown facts relating to his upbringing at least provides some context for examining Monty's personal and romantic relationships later on in life. As one example, Monty slept with both men and women, but the most prominent women in his life were not sexual partners; they were people like Liz Taylor, who served almost as a surrogate mother to him. Other biographers - LaGuardia and Lancaster, namely - seem content with Bosworth's study of his early childhood and don't really try to expound on it. That's to her credit. The problem I have with Bosworth's bio is that she treats the infamous car accident in which Monty's beautiful face was permanently rearranged as a sort of ending point in his film career. There's no doubt that his most iconic performances - the ones that elegantly weaved his ambiguous sexuality, his febrile disposition and his undeniable physical attractiveness into characters like Robert E. Lee Prewitt ("From Here to Eternity") and George Eastman ("A Place in the Sun") - were behind him; but her analysis ignores films like "The Young Lions," "Wild River," and "Misfits," in which Clift puts in some of the best performances of his career by manipulating his altered appearance to a different, but equally dramatic, effect. For a better analysis of Clift's filmography, go to LaGuardia or Lancaster or Girelli.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Erin O'Riordan

    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 f--- and s---. 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 an 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 f--- and s---. 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. This 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. Bosworth remains neutral on her subject, letting the witnesses (including Clift's mother and siblings) move the story along with their impressions. I do think Bosworth almost glosses over the most troubling aspect of Clift's story - his inappropriate dating relationship with a 16-year-old girl and supposed arrest for soliciting a male teen for sex (no charges appear to have been filed, so there's no way to ever really know what, if anything, happened). Other than not providing some explanatory context there, Bosworth seems to have done a very thorough job.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    Great book, read 2x going to read again. Best actor of his time

  10. 4 out of 5

    Addy

    wonderful biography! definitely recommend❤👏🏼

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lara

    For awhile in this biography of one of the best actors of his generation, I really didn't LIKE Montgomery Clift. But as you learn about his childhood and his mother (WHAT a piece of work that woman was!) you begin to understand the very high price Monty paid dealing with his myriad self doubts and torments while crafting roles that, by the end of the film, you went away convinced no one else could have portrayed. Homosexuality in Hollywood in the 1950s was totally denied, and outing yourself was For awhile in this biography of one of the best actors of his generation, I really didn't LIKE Montgomery Clift. But as you learn about his childhood and his mother (WHAT a piece of work that woman was!) you begin to understand the very high price Monty paid dealing with his myriad self doubts and torments while crafting roles that, by the end of the film, you went away convinced no one else could have portrayed. Homosexuality in Hollywood in the 1950s was totally denied, and outing yourself was a sure way to destroy your career. Clift was, from reading this, bisexual but his tragedy was that he couldn't find happiness with either sex, indulging instead in continuing affairs with inappropriate men which were sprinkled with a few relationships with women. Drinking, drugs (both recreational and prescribed after his accident, from which he never really recovered), more drinking and a slow psychological downward spiral which feels almost inevitable, makes you forget that you don't really like him as a person, and feel great pity instead for a beautiful soul that was ruined by life, his own terrifying demons and the grinding insecurities which he was barely able to hold at bay. He died too young, and too bruised. This book is considered the "definitive" biography of Monty, and Ms. Bosworth used many primary sources when writing it: friends, lovers, family, diaries. This isn't a gossipy "dish" on scandals. Instead, fully knowledgeable about her subject, she affords Monty the dignity he deserves. To really see his pain, watch his role in "Judgment at Nuremburg". He channels, it seems, his entire persona into the role of Rudolph Peterson. One of the most brilliant scenes in movie history, Monty's soul is laid bare when he asks about his mother, "Was she ... feeble-minded?" It just breaks your heart, as your heart is slowly broken reading this biography. You finish the book feeling that such a sensitive, talented man deserved better.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Paul Gaya Ochieng Simeon Juma

    Montgomery Clift was a very talented actor. He acted a number of movies including, a place in the sun, from here to eternity, the search, I confess etc. He also won a number of awards from his great acting career. However, just like the characters in the novel, valley of the dolls, Monty had a difficult time living. He struggled with alcoholism and addiction to various kind of drugs including, sleeping pills, tranquilizers etc. He was also very confused about his sexuality. He was attracted to b Montgomery Clift was a very talented actor. He acted a number of movies including, a place in the sun, from here to eternity, the search, I confess etc. He also won a number of awards from his great acting career. However, just like the characters in the novel, valley of the dolls, Monty had a difficult time living. He struggled with alcoholism and addiction to various kind of drugs including, sleeping pills, tranquilizers etc. He was also very confused about his sexuality. He was attracted to both men and women. Am not going to say much of what is contains d in this book. My reason for buying it is because I had earlier on read valley of the dolls which I enjoyed very much. Now this is the real life story of a character who can be placed perfectly in the novel, valley of the dolls.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    With "Montgomery Clift: A Biography," I have to remember that I'm reviewing the book, not the subject. Don't get me wrong: Monty Clift, to me, is one of the best actors to come out of the 1940's and 50's. He had poise and presence, and he worked harder than anyone to craft his performances. In many of his films, the reviews read something like, "God, this movie sucks, but Montgomery Clift gives a splendid performance as..." His behavior off-screen was sometimes angelic, sometimes deplorable. In C With "Montgomery Clift: A Biography," I have to remember that I'm reviewing the book, not the subject. Don't get me wrong: Monty Clift, to me, is one of the best actors to come out of the 1940's and 50's. He had poise and presence, and he worked harder than anyone to craft his performances. In many of his films, the reviews read something like, "God, this movie sucks, but Montgomery Clift gives a splendid performance as..." His behavior off-screen was sometimes angelic, sometimes deplorable. In Clift's case, it wasn't ego or fame that made him so enigmatic, it was his mother. Sunny Clift was the illegitimate product of two different high-society bloodlines, neither of whom acknowledged her. To the headstrong woman, this was unconscionable, and she refused to accept it. So, in addition to her constant pestering of these two families, she decreed that her children should be raised in a manner suitable to American royalty. The kids--Monty, his twin sister, Ethel, and older brother, Brooks--were hauled all over Europe and the swankier parts of the US. Ed Clift--Monty's father--had a good job, which allowed this expensive charade to continue. "You're THOROUGHBREDS," Sunny used to tell her children, instilling in them a sort of snobbery. Monty was special, though. He was beautiful, sensitive, intelligent, and talented. As a teen, he started modeling and acting on Broadway. His theater career blossomed through his 20's, until he finally went to Hollywood. Throughout his life, Sunny was a domineering presence, a meddlesome stage-mother writ large. Even when he was a highly paid Broadway star, Sunny still insisted he live in the family's Park Avenue apartment. She evaluated--and disapproved of--all of Monty's friends, dates, associates, etc. "They're beneath you!" she said. With this insanity as his base, how could Clift NOT be a nut? He was also tormented by his sexuality. Clift was homosexual in an era when homosexuality was just not something you wanted to be caught in, not in the post-war years. Even today, it takes guts for an actor or actress to "come out" as being gay. This seems ridiculous to me, but that's still the way of things. Being gay in 1950, though, was a career's death sentence. Monty had relationships with women--even sexual in nature--but they were hollow and unsatisfying. His most-positive relationships with women were as best-friends or surrogate mothers, and in his mind, he identified as gay. Montgomery Clift was ashamed of being homosexual. That's one contributory factor. Substance abuse was another. For years as an adult, Monty didn't drink at all--nothing alcoholic. When that changed, it changed big time. He became notorious for some of his riotous binges. He also carried enough pills with him to stock a small pharmacy. Uppers, downers, tranquilizers, muscle relaxers--he had them all. He was plagued by insomnia, and some nights the only way he could sleep was by drinking a quart of Scotch and popping pills. It's a miracle he lived as long as he did. One night, Elizabeth Taylor--one of Clift's best friends since they made "A Place in The Sun" together--was throwing a dinner party. Monty was exhausted from the film he was working on at the time. He didn't drink during the party, and excused himself early. He got a friend to drive ahead of him down the winding, treacherous hilly road from Ms. Taylor's house to Sunset Blvd. He followed his friend, then lost control of his car and smashed into a tree. The car was destroyed. So was Monty's face. The friend raced back to Taylor's home and had her call for an ambulance. She went to the scene, and cradled Clift's bloody pulp of a face in her lap. At one point, he started choking. She reached into his mouth, and pulled two of his front teeth out of his throat, thus saving his life. The rehabilitation process was slow. Clift's jaw was wired shut, and he had other wounds sutured, fractures set, etc. He also suffered incredible pain. This led to incredible dependence on pain-killers, an addiction that would plague him the rest of his life. He made it back to the big screen, and he could still act. His offscreen life went into a tailspin. By the end, this once-handsome, hugely talented screen legend was living as a recluse, shooting himself full of Dilaudid, drinking, taking pills, and mainly just watching TV. Montgomery Clift's talent is still obvious in his films. On YouTube, you can see his performance in "Judgment at Nuremberg." His entire segment was eleven or twelve minutes long, but he so embodied the simple-minded man whom the Nazis had sterilized, that he was nominated for an Oscar. (On YouTube, under search, type "Montgomery Clift Judgement" and that should bring it up) Clift had and lost numerous friends over the years. His mother was always there. Perhaps the most-telling thing ever said about Monty Clift came from Marilyn Monroe on the set of "The Searchers": "He's the only one I know who's worse off than I am." That's like 1975 Keith Richards telling you that you have a drug problem. Author Patricia Bosworth has done a good job with this biography. She neither scolds her subject when he's bad, nor beatifies him when he's good. The greatest thing she does is show how hard he worked on his films. He didn't just memorize lines and deliver them. He'd spend late night hours revising his lines, changing them so they made more sense, getting inside his character. He clashed with some directors and fellow actors over this habit. In one case, the daily script changes Monty wrote and fought for led to a Best Screenplay Oscar for the original writer, the writer whose work Clift had to change every night. Montgomery Clift was certainly not a perfect human. I think he was a perfect storm, though, of a talented kid, raised in an unconventional way by a domineering snob of a woman, who refused ever to let go of him. Did this warp him? No doubt. Did it help bring forth his inner-genius? It sure looks that way. You have to wonder, though, whether there couldn't have been some less-destructive way to reveal and polish the gem within. Recommended for Clift fans

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rick Buttafogo

    Just yesterday was the 55th anniversary of Clift’s death. This book itself is already 43 years old but was filled with interviews with his father, mother, brother, twin sister, fellow actors and actresses, friends, directors, etc. First hand stories from those that knew him. Today, all of his family and costars, with the exception of Eva Marie Saint, have passed away. Hard to imagine today, Montgomery Clift would be nearing is 101 birthday while he only lived 45 years. An incredibly informative Just yesterday was the 55th anniversary of Clift’s death. This book itself is already 43 years old but was filled with interviews with his father, mother, brother, twin sister, fellow actors and actresses, friends, directors, etc. First hand stories from those that knew him. Today, all of his family and costars, with the exception of Eva Marie Saint, have passed away. Hard to imagine today, Montgomery Clift would be nearing is 101 birthday while he only lived 45 years. An incredibly informative book about a brilliant actor, genius mind, and tragic choices that led him down a very destructive path. A man in constant pain from his 1956 car accident leaving Elizabeth Taylor’s home, which lead to a life addicted to pain medications. A life long struggle with dysentery he picked up in Mexico in his teen age years. Cataracts removed in his 30s. Thyroid disease causing him to black out and lose balance. Add to that his raging alcohol abuse and the ultimate heart attack at 45 that took his life. If you’re still a fan, there are new books out this year alone, but this should be read simply because it is filled of first hand accounts by those that knew him personally.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Carl

    A troubled man This book really hooked me early on. I'm not sure exactly why. But the life of one of our Hollywood heroes fascinated me, as I was a big fan of his work, and was curious about his dealing with the homophobia of the day. His relationships with friends like Liz Taylor was truly a wonderful thing to experience. He was truly a very talented and troubled boy and man. The author does a fine job of telling this fascinating story. A troubled man This book really hooked me early on. I'm not sure exactly why. But the life of one of our Hollywood heroes fascinated me, as I was a big fan of his work, and was curious about his dealing with the homophobia of the day. His relationships with friends like Liz Taylor was truly a wonderful thing to experience. He was truly a very talented and troubled boy and man. The author does a fine job of telling this fascinating story.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tej

    I first heard of Monty Clift from the Clash song "The Right Profile," but I didn't see any of his movies until I rented I Confess when I was in my 20s. I immediately knew there was something special about him. I was mesmerized by A Place in the Sun and how I could see him express several emotions in succession without appearing to do anything. Then, of course, there's his devastating beauty. Who else in 1953 had a six-pack? To heck with Burt Lancaster; to me, Monty is the star of From Here to Et I first heard of Monty Clift from the Clash song "The Right Profile," but I didn't see any of his movies until I rented I Confess when I was in my 20s. I immediately knew there was something special about him. I was mesmerized by A Place in the Sun and how I could see him express several emotions in succession without appearing to do anything. Then, of course, there's his devastating beauty. Who else in 1953 had a six-pack? To heck with Burt Lancaster; to me, Monty is the star of From Here to Eternity. Knowing that he had a difficult life, I was afraid I might not like him as much after reading a biography. Not so. I think women reached out to him so much because his pain was so raw and vulnerable. True, he was a jerk to many of his friends; but to others he was generous and supportive. I think he really cared about people and the world but he couldn't get past his own tragedies. I wish someone had sued his analyst for malpractice and gross negligence. As a book, this was certainly readable. There were a lot of contradictions, though. Perhaps because Monty himself was so changeable. Unfortunately, it was written from a fan's perspective. I hope some day a real historian will dig more deeply.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Larry

    ay, where did I see this guy? In red river? Or a place in the sun? Maybe the misfits? Or from here to eternity? Everybody say, is he all right? And everybody say, whats he like? Everybody say, he sure look funny. Thats...montgomery clift, honey! New york, new york, new york, 42nd street Hustlers rustle and pimps pimp the beat Monty clift is recognized at dawn He aint got no shoes and his clothes are torn I see a car smashed at night Cut the applause and dim the light Montys face is broken on a wheel Is he alive ay, where did I see this guy? In red river? Or a place in the sun? Maybe the misfits? Or from here to eternity? Everybody say, is he all right? And everybody say, whats he like? Everybody say, he sure look funny. Thats...montgomery clift, honey! New york, new york, new york, 42nd street Hustlers rustle and pimps pimp the beat Monty clift is recognized at dawn He aint got no shoes and his clothes are torn I see a car smashed at night Cut the applause and dim the light Montys face is broken on a wheel Is he alive? can he still feel? Nembutol numbs it all But I prefer alcohol He said go out and get me my old movie stills Go out and get me another roll of pills There I go again shaking, but I aint got the chills Arrrghhhgorra buh bhuh do arrrrgggghhhhnnnn!!!! The Clash turned me on to Monty Cliff, saw lots of his movies dug him, read this, good stuff by Joe Strummer sums it all up in the lyrics to The Right Profile (see above)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Well written and researched biography of a tortured and talented American actor. How to Be a Movie Star: Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood , is a good companion to this biography. Well written and researched biography of a tortured and talented American actor. How to Be a Movie Star: Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood , is a good companion to this biography.

  19. 5 out of 5

    jules

    I've been a huge fan of Montgomery Clift's ever since I first saw Suddenly, Last Summer. Not the best film he's ever done, not a film he completed when he was in his prime, but a film that has improved over the years as one of those movies that was so before it's time. Since seeing this film, I fell down a rabbit hole of watching Clift, especially making sure that I saw movies like 'A Place in the Sun' and 'From Here to Eternity'. As you may be able to tell, I'm a big fan. However, I didn't know I've been a huge fan of Montgomery Clift's ever since I first saw Suddenly, Last Summer. Not the best film he's ever done, not a film he completed when he was in his prime, but a film that has improved over the years as one of those movies that was so before it's time. Since seeing this film, I fell down a rabbit hole of watching Clift, especially making sure that I saw movies like 'A Place in the Sun' and 'From Here to Eternity'. As you may be able to tell, I'm a big fan. However, I didn't know much about the man behind the scenes. I knew his characters and knew of the car crash that basically started the end of his life, but I had no clue about the struggles he had. Whether it was his own psychologically volatile emotions or his addiction, Monty Clift was troubled. But even among those troubles, he still managed to become one of the greatest (if not the greatest) actors of his generation. It can be difficult to find good biographies on old actors like Clift, as many biographers fall into that trap of praising their subject just a bit too much. With a subject like Clift, Bosworth manages to accurately detail just how Clift was -- and this means including information that makes Clift look different than the lovely, troubled man that he was. Was he troubled? Yes. Was he a brilliant actor and artist? Yes. Was he rude and selfish during parts of his life? Yes. This biography manages to depict Clift as he was, through interviews with his closest friends over the years. Readers are able to see that he was brilliant, but he also had a lot of troubles that may have been the reason he acted out in his life. He identified as something other than 100% straight (in modern terms, he would be considered bisexual or pansexual) in a time when you had to be 100% straight. If you weren't, you were homosexual. Clift wasn't homosexual, as he was able to have relations with both men and women. Dealing with his hidden sexuality (though it wasn't completely hidden) and his uncommon upbringing that was dominated by his controlling mother, Clift had many psychological issues that more than likely lead to his drinking and drug addiction -- and addiction he had long before he got into the car crash that slowly killed him. This book is riveting -- but also incredibly sad. It's unfortunate that one of Hollywood's brightest stars slowly, slowly, died. Reading about his slow descent to death is heart-wrenching, even more so when you realize that he only lived to be 45 years old. This is a fantastic book that manages to get inside the mind of Monty Clift. There aren't a TON of Monty books out there, so it's a must read for those who have admired the actor in the past. It's also a great book for those who love to read about Old Hollywood, as many old directors and stars pop up in this book because they were involved in Monty's life in some way. Or, if you're just looking for a book that portrays an iconic yet troubled star, pick this up. It's quite good.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Russell J. Sanders

    Patricia Bosworth’s 1978 biography, Montgomery Clift is a remarkable book. Not only does she make Clift’s life a harrowing, cautionary tale, but Bosworth also gives us an appreciation for one of the mid-twentieth century’s greatest acting talents. Clift was an alcoholic, drug-addicted man whose life was stunted from childhood by a controlling mother. His performances on stage and screen were carefully-planned explorations of character, often using—as most great actors do—his own experiences and Patricia Bosworth’s 1978 biography, Montgomery Clift is a remarkable book. Not only does she make Clift’s life a harrowing, cautionary tale, but Bosworth also gives us an appreciation for one of the mid-twentieth century’s greatest acting talents. Clift was an alcoholic, drug-addicted man whose life was stunted from childhood by a controlling mother. His performances on stage and screen were carefully-planned explorations of character, often using—as most great actors do—his own experiences and feelings. His personal life was a mess, a series of outbursts and inexplicable deeds. Bosworth covers all of this while making us care for this terribly conflicted man. I first read this book back in 1978, and I remembered only that it offered some valuable insights into the craft of acting—so much so that I underlined several parts of the book, for at the time I was a working actor and director. Recently, I decided I needed to read the book again, and this time, I was shattered by the sad tale of a broken man. Clift was a bisexual—leaning more to homosexual—in a time when that sort of behavior was not out and open. He spent his life questioning his sexuality, clinging to women as friends and lovers, yet craving sex with men. In this second reading of the book, I realize that Bosworth carefully guarded the names of Clift’s male lovers—using “an actor” or “a designer” or some other such designation—to identify them. Today, many if not all those men are dead, and in today’s more open society, their names would have been used in a modern telling. Dare I say that I wish Bosworth could have done that in 1978? As a gay man—and perhaps with some prurient interest—I would like Clift’s lovers identified. In the book, Bosworth tells of his friendship with Roddy Mc Dowell and Jack Larsen, both now known to be gay, and yet Bosworth never, ever reveals that in her book. And these men, apparently, were not lovers of Clift. Somehow, withholding that important aspect of the players in this life story, cheats us a bit as readers, fully realizing the time in which she wrote her book. But other than that, her book is a warning, not only to gifted actors but to all of us, of how not to live a life.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Deodand

    It seems like an intimate, complete view of Clift's life. The sources were certainly broad and nothing was held back. Was Clift broken by a struggle with his sexuality, the loss of his spooky beauty , his drug use? It doesn't seem like Clift took issue with being gay. In my view he was far ahead of his time regarding personal acceptance. I think more psychic pain came organically at the onset of adulthood, when mental illness can manifest. That and the rebounding effects of the accident may have It seems like an intimate, complete view of Clift's life. The sources were certainly broad and nothing was held back. Was Clift broken by a struggle with his sexuality, the loss of his spooky beauty , his drug use? It doesn't seem like Clift took issue with being gay. In my view he was far ahead of his time regarding personal acceptance. I think more psychic pain came organically at the onset of adulthood, when mental illness can manifest. That and the rebounding effects of the accident may have caused his "slow suicide". This book takes a bit too much of a moral view for my taste. Maybe we are sufficiently distant from Clift's (and Bosworth's) time to get a better perspective on burning one's candle at both ends.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Joseph J.

    Purchased my somewhat battered copy at Strand in NYC almost 40 years ago. A STANDARD FOR HOLLYWOOD BIOGRAPHY, indeed for ALL BIOGRAPHY. Clift was a talented, tortured, and luminous screen presence. After "the accident," it was painful to watch him, though his supporting actor performance in Judgement at Nurenberg is deserving of an Oscar. Monty is on THAT list of great talents never honored by that award. A great book of a tragic life, and we lost Patricia Bosworth and her talents early in the c Purchased my somewhat battered copy at Strand in NYC almost 40 years ago. A STANDARD FOR HOLLYWOOD BIOGRAPHY, indeed for ALL BIOGRAPHY. Clift was a talented, tortured, and luminous screen presence. After "the accident," it was painful to watch him, though his supporting actor performance in Judgement at Nurenberg is deserving of an Oscar. Monty is on THAT list of great talents never honored by that award. A great book of a tragic life, and we lost Patricia Bosworth and her talents early in the corona-virus pandemic. (You may catch her in her early acting career as Audrey Hepburn's convent friend in The Nun's Story.)

  23. 5 out of 5

    Paul Romero

    When I was younger (early 20's) to about this time (2009, was the last time I have read this biography) in my early 30's, I felt an extremely close relation between the two of us. Creative, kind, and humorous yet a mad scientist that was secretly a self-loathing, and self medicating pharmacist. As I add this review (2017 at the age 41), I am happy to say I have surpassed this way of being, believing (the darker ways) and now find myself in a white light and continue to enjoy my life, knowing we When I was younger (early 20's) to about this time (2009, was the last time I have read this biography) in my early 30's, I felt an extremely close relation between the two of us. Creative, kind, and humorous yet a mad scientist that was secretly a self-loathing, and self medicating pharmacist. As I add this review (2017 at the age 41), I am happy to say I have surpassed this way of being, believing (the darker ways) and now find myself in a white light and continue to enjoy my life, knowing we have a different ending in our own stories, indeed. A+

  24. 4 out of 5

    Monica

    Bosworth did a great job on this biography. She interviewed everyone who knew him or had contact with him. She read his letters. The man was a creative genius and like most creative people had difficulty handling reality turning to drugs and alcohol. Bosworth examines in detail the final months of Clift's life and makes you feel the anguish and uncertainly that plagued the man. I am a big fan of Clift and watch The Heiress and Raintree County any time it appears on TCM. Well documented work and Bosworth did a great job on this biography. She interviewed everyone who knew him or had contact with him. She read his letters. The man was a creative genius and like most creative people had difficulty handling reality turning to drugs and alcohol. Bosworth examines in detail the final months of Clift's life and makes you feel the anguish and uncertainly that plagued the man. I am a big fan of Clift and watch The Heiress and Raintree County any time it appears on TCM. Well documented work and definitive biography for any Clift fan.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Hopp

    This 1978 biography in which the author seems to have interviewed everybody who knew MC and had things to say may be some sort of classic of contemporary biography. Marilyn said that Montgomery Clift was the only person she knew more screwed up than she was, and that helplessness comes across (Marlon Brando made a special, unsuccessful intervention-like visit to get Clift to stop drinking)—but the most absorbing parts are those about Clift’s attitudes and approach to acting and his friendships, This 1978 biography in which the author seems to have interviewed everybody who knew MC and had things to say may be some sort of classic of contemporary biography. Marilyn said that Montgomery Clift was the only person she knew more screwed up than she was, and that helplessness comes across (Marlon Brando made a special, unsuccessful intervention-like visit to get Clift to stop drinking)—but the most absorbing parts are those about Clift’s attitudes and approach to acting and his friendships, especially with ever-loyal Elizabeth Taylor.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Duran

    This is probably one of the most illuminating biographies I have ever read. Bosworth interviewed a vast array of friends and colleagues to compose a haunting portrait of a talented but troubled soul. It would be completely heartbreaking if Monty were more likable.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Antoinette Maria

    I have a lot of quibbles with this book and would love to read an updated take on his life from a different biographer, but I have to admit this book was exactly what you want from a celebrity bio--gossipy and riveting.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mary Narkiewicz

    A really great biography that I couldn't put down.. And I never lost interest from start to finish. A really great biography that I couldn't put down.. And I never lost interest from start to finish.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Stephenie C Lawson

    Overreacted Angst Book did not flow well. Told with too much angst and over emphasis on his acting to the point of overreacting in a bio.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    This was a hard read --- because it was so tragic. It gave me a great appreciation for the films of Monty Clift. Bravo Patricia Bosworth for tackling such a difficult subject.

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