This is the film that all Montgomery Clift fans have waited for since his death at the far too early age of 45, and also the one to introduce to millenials who have never had joy of knowing of his existence, This wonderful queer actor, one of the most handsome Hollywood stars ever, has been the subject of so much scandalous and misleading sensationalism that has overlooked actual real facts that he may have made only 20 movies. but he was actually nominated for an Oscar for his performance in 4 of them.
The reason for the excitement and relief is that this new documentary is co-directed by the late actor’s nephew Robert Clift. He was actually born after his uncle and died, but Brookes his father, who was Monty’s older brother had been a passionate follower and supporter of his sibling and had hoarded an amazing archive of ephemera of his brother’s career that is beyond any biographer’s dream Even though Brooke Clift had co-operated with author Patricia Bosworth in her book Montgomery Clift : A Biography published in 1978, it is now very evident after Robert Clift’s examination of the archives, that he hadn’t shared that much with her.
Monty’s life had always been fodder for the tabloid press because he had always refused to conform. He passed up several movies at the beginning of his career as he was determined to wait for the right role for his screen debut. He refused to go under Contract to any one studio which was unheard off in those days, and more importantly on a personal level, unlike other gay actors of the time like Cary Grant and Rock Hudson, he wouldn’t toe the line and marry for the sake of his (and the Studios’) reputation
It meant that when news of the personal issues and demons became public knowledge, the Press didn’t hesitate to make them into scandals whether they warranted it or not. Rumours , most of the malicious kind, surrounded his life (and death) such as the claim that his mesmerising performance in Stanley Kramer’s ‘Judgement at Nuremberg‘ was him actually having a nervous breakdown during the filming.
In this documentary Clift and his co-director Hillary Demmon use their skills and archived evidence to de-construct all the myths that had misled people to believe that Montgomery Clift’s whole life had been one long melodramatic sad cliche. They by no means attempted to portray him as a saint, but at least by separating the facts from some of the wicked fiction, they give us a portrait of a talented, and sometimes tormented extraordinary actor and man, who we should rightfully recognise as a gay icon who our community are truly proud off.
A word of warning . This rather wonderful documentary will make you want to go back and revisit all of Montys films. Well it did to us.