Hot Best Seller

Montgomery Clift: A Biography

Availability: Ready to download

...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


Compare

...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 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. 5 out of 5

    Lybia 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 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, 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. 5 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

    ERIN SCHMIDT

    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 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.

  6. 5 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.

  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 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 even Girelli, who applies Sedgwick's "Queer Theory" in her analysis of his films).

  8. 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 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.

  9. 5 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 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

  10. 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.

  11. 4 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

    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 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.

  13. 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 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)

  14. 4 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.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Becky

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

  16. 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.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Russell 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.

  18. 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+

  19. 5 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mary Narkiewicz

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

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay-Isabel

    I've always liked him, and I knew he was troubled. However, I didn't believe just how much and how deep it ran until this book. It's an amazing, amazing read!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Martin

    I’m glad to know more about Monty Clift, but I also wish I didn’t know so much about him now. I’ve always wanted to know more about him and thought it would make a good project of reading this book while watching his films simultaneously. His films stand tall without the additional knowledge of his life, his dysfunction, his sexuality. But his charisma and even his good looks have been damaged for me with the knowledge that he could be crass and cruel to friends, that he was vain intellectually I’m glad to know more about Monty Clift, but I also wish I didn’t know so much about him now. I’ve always wanted to know more about him and thought it would make a good project of reading this book while watching his films simultaneously. His films stand tall without the additional knowledge of his life, his dysfunction, his sexuality. But his charisma and even his good looks have been damaged for me with the knowledge that he could be crass and cruel to friends, that he was vain intellectually as well as in his looks, and that his friendships seemed very one-sided, with all energies being directed towards him (at the beginning because he’s so promising and pretty, and at the end because he’s a fucked up black hole). The book is well-researched and briskly written. The author does not go thoroughly in-depth in analyzing his films. I'm spoiled by more recent biographies written by film academics rather than biographers who are interested in movie stars. When this book was written in 1978, books such as these tended to be written for the general public interested in learning more about their stars. Now that old films are readily available on home video, one expects more writing on the films themselves. However, for the time in which it was written, I am somewhat surprised by the level of detail about Monty’s sexuality. A few things I did not know: the 1962 film “Freud” was Monty’s Waterloo because he was so much more unstable on the set than he had been in his and John Huston’s prior film “The Misfits”, which was compounded by Huston feeling much less supportive of Monty. This was followed by a few years of litigation regarding the film going over budget, Monty’s need for a cataract operation, and the insurance policy on Monty’s ability to complete the film. Eventually Monty won against Universal, but he was considered uninsurable after that, and completely fell apart without work. He only made one more film, released four years after “Freud”. I also loved anything to do with his friendship with Elizabeth Taylor, especially at the end when he is jealous/dismissive of Richard Burton, and when he jokes that Bessie Mae (his nickname for Taylor) is the only person who had more health problems than he did. (At one point he did very well with painkillers that the FDA had taken off the market for humans, but Monty got them from a veterinarian for a while.) I was also surprised to learn that he was haunted by the idea that he would die soon after his "Misfits" co-stars (although it actually took 5 years to do so), or that he felt such a kinship (of the disastrous variety) with Marilyn Monroe on the set.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    In this biography by Patricia Bosworth, there's a quote from Marilyn Monroe on Montgomery Clift: "He's the only person I know who's in worse shape than I am." If this book can be summed up in one sentence, that would be it. But I have more than one sentence, so I'll continue... I decided to read this book because it was referenced several times in Somebody: The Reckless Life and Remarkable Career of Marlon Brando by Stefan Kanfer and I guess I was intrigued. Montgomery Clift really had the deck In this biography by Patricia Bosworth, there's a quote from Marilyn Monroe on Montgomery Clift: "He's the only person I know who's in worse shape than I am." If this book can be summed up in one sentence, that would be it. But I have more than one sentence, so I'll continue... I decided to read this book because it was referenced several times in Somebody: The Reckless Life and Remarkable Career of Marlon Brando by Stefan Kanfer and I guess I was intrigued. Montgomery Clift really had the deck stacked against him. He had a very difficult mother, who was so obsessed with her "breeding" and her genealogy that it became a major factor in how she raised her three children. He had a variety of health problems from childhood, which may have been worsened by a near drowning when some stupid bully held his head under water in a swimming pool on a cruise ship. And he was gay (or maybe bisexual) in an era when that was something that had to be hidden for him to enjoy a career as a Hollywood star. Throw in alcoholism and drug abuse and a disfiguring auto accident and you have the ingredients for a messy and tragic life. Fortunately, this book isn't nearly as sensationalized as it might have been. Patricia Bosworth takes a clear and scholarly look at Clift's life, and it's not all about the drugs and the sex at all. She examines his career, his approach to acting, the roles that he played and the way that he played them. This is a solid and definitive biography, and it's certainly helped by the fact that it was written in the 1970s, at a time when many of the people who knew Monty were still alive and available to be interviewed.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    This was a well-crafted biography of talented-but-tortured actor Montgomery Clift. Clift got his start in New York theater, but quickly became a movie star with his appearance in 1948's "Red River" with John Wayne, as well as the heartthrob (although a murderous one) in "A Place In The Sun" in 1951. He was seen as part of the 'dark, brooding type' of movie star such as Marlon Brando and James Dean were in the 50s. He had long-term platonic relationships with actor Kevin McCarthy and Elizabeth This was a well-crafted biography of talented-but-tortured actor Montgomery Clift. Clift got his start in New York theater, but quickly became a movie star with his appearance in 1948's "Red River" with John Wayne, as well as the heartthrob (although a murderous one) in "A Place In The Sun" in 1951. He was seen as part of the 'dark, brooding type' of movie star such as Marlon Brando and James Dean were in the 50s. He had long-term platonic relationships with actor Kevin McCarthy and Elizabeth Taylor, but was a closeted homosexual (although everyone in Hollywood knew about it, as was usually the case for any gay actors or actresses, such things just weren't written about in those years as they were career-killers. Clift was badly injured and his face disfigured in the late 50s in a car accident during the filming of "Raintree County" with Elizabeth Taylor; since he was so exceptionally handsome, he felt he had to drown his sorrows with alcohol all the more after that time. He had an Academy-award nominated performance in 1961's "Judgment at Nuremberg"; his fourth and final nomination. (He never won an Oscar.) He was in quite a number of classic films such as "The Misfits"; "Suddenly, Last Summer"; Alfred Hitchcock's "I Confess"; and played the title role in "Freud". This Patricia Bosworth effort is a must-read for Montgomery Clift fans. **#49 of 100 books pledged to read/review during 2015**

  26. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    One of those roundabout stories about how you find a book, and how it finds you: As a teenage record collector, I came upon a British creation called LP magazine. It was a gatefold LP, with several magazine pages in it, with features about the different artists who were on the album. It's the first time I got to hear Lloyd Cole & the Commotions' cover of "Glory." In the photo that accompanied the unremarkable story about Cole — who had captured my ear and who I still revere today — he was One of those roundabout stories about how you find a book, and how it finds you: As a teenage record collector, I came upon a British creation called LP magazine. It was a gatefold LP, with several magazine pages in it, with features about the different artists who were on the album. It's the first time I got to hear Lloyd Cole & the Commotions' cover of "Glory." In the photo that accompanied the unremarkable story about Cole — who had captured my ear and who I still revere today — he was pictured hiding his face behind this book. I was 14 in living in Oklahoma; I didn't know from Montgomery Clift. I sought out the book, read the tale, watched the movies, grew a little. It was enough of a transformative experience that ... well, look, the photo with my bio on this site is an imitation of it. Years later I wound up in an arts journalism fellowship program ... and one of the fellow fellows was Patricia Bosworth, then working on her biography of Marlon Brando. Fate's little ironies. As movie-star bios go, this ain't bad. It's no work of scholarship, but the facts are sound and the narrative is fluid. The full arc of Clift's life and career get their due.

  27. 5 out of 5

    B

    Writing biographies--and reading them, too, I suppose--can be rather dull. Not for Patricia Bosworth, though. Somehow she made reading about someone's life very intriguing, juicy, and sometimes even rather vulgar. Though, I think she didn't have to work so hard at that when she had Montgomery Clift's life as material. And his life. Wow, what a life. Monty is one of my favorite actors and arguably one of the best ones that ever graced the silver screen, too. Such an underrated actor as well, even Writing biographies--and reading them, too, I suppose--can be rather dull. Not for Patricia Bosworth, though. Somehow she made reading about someone's life very intriguing, juicy, and sometimes even rather vulgar. Though, I think she didn't have to work so hard at that when she had Montgomery Clift's life as material. And his life. Wow, what a life. Monty is one of my favorite actors and arguably one of the best ones that ever graced the silver screen, too. Such an underrated actor as well, even with all of his achievements. His life wasn't perfect but his almost hopeless search for perfection throughout his life is worth the trouble to read about it. Very entertaining, sometimes heartbreaking, read. I wish it would've gone on forever, but then again I'm glad Monty didn't suffer forever.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Wyma

    He was for years my favorite actor, the most astonishing on the screen where in The Search he could convey the whole drama of an American soldier still in Europe after the war. A slight tightening of the jaw and you couldn't help wondering what was coming next. In Wild River a scene with Lee Remick was the most sensual I'd ever seen on screen. And later in bad movies so disappointing and yet still giving us something more than the medium called for. Bosworth is a good biographer, making her He was for years my favorite actor, the most astonishing on the screen where in The Search he could convey the whole drama of an American soldier still in Europe after the war. A slight tightening of the jaw and you couldn't help wondering what was coming next. In Wild River a scene with Lee Remick was the most sensual I'd ever seen on screen. And later in bad movies so disappointing and yet still giving us something more than the medium called for. Bosworth is a good biographer, making her subject come alive again, showing some of the whys in the bizarre growing up years and later alcoholic ones. I'm glad I read it. It reminded me again of why these two films are so perfect and make me want to see them again. It was hard to read the last part, observing him fall apart and so publicly as famous people do.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Terry Michael

    An uncomplicated view of a complicated, beautiful actor. Bosworth focuses on the psychology of Clift's life. Raised by an eccentric mother, he was a young boy when he did his first stage play. He pre-dated James Dean's fame by a few years - and Dean, Brando, and Actor's Studio alums thought he was the real deal. Bosworth chronicles how Clift's sensitive, almost erotic performances bridged old Hollywood "pretty" to new Hollywood's raw, more realistic portrayals. He was a stunning actor celebrated An uncomplicated view of a complicated, beautiful actor. Bosworth focuses on the psychology of Clift's life. Raised by an eccentric mother, he was a young boy when he did his first stage play. He pre-dated James Dean's fame by a few years - and Dean, Brando, and Actor's Studio alums thought he was the real deal. Bosworth chronicles how Clift's sensitive, almost erotic performances bridged old Hollywood "pretty" to new Hollywood's raw, more realistic portrayals. He was a stunning actor celebrated for his beauty -- until he crashed his car and nearly died. The physical and psychological injuries contributed to his decline. Critics often referred to Clift's face, the accident, and the loss of his beauty before they reviewed his performances. It's too bad because most of his work after the accident was stunning (see "Judgement at Nuremburg").

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

    Such a gifted man, such a tragic tale. As an appreciation of a tumultuous life, this book shows us what it was like to know, admire, and care for such a talented, troubled man. Bosworth shows us his tremendous skill and appeal as a performer, and his dedication to his work, right up to the end. The book's structure is episodic, and Bosworth doesn't really provide a summation of his life or an analysis of his impact. But she does capture his contradictions: generous, intelligent, charming, and Such a gifted man, such a tragic tale. As an appreciation of a tumultuous life, this book shows us what it was like to know, admire, and care for such a talented, troubled man. Bosworth shows us his tremendous skill and appeal as a performer, and his dedication to his work, right up to the end. The book's structure is episodic, and Bosworth doesn't really provide a summation of his life or an analysis of his impact. But she does capture his contradictions: generous, intelligent, charming, and lovable, but also enormously self destructive, self-absorbed, tortured. Bosworth quotes liberally from people who knew him and from the man himself, and it feels like an accurate portrait. For me, there isn't enough about his working life - some of those descriptions go by too quickly - but Bosworth is good at identifying what made his performances so special.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.