Classic film star and queer icon Montgomery Clift's legacy has long been a story of tragedy and self-destruction. But when his nephew dives into the family archives, a much more complicated picture emerges.
Montgomery Clift, troubled and haunted film star of the 1950's that begot Brando, Dean, and Shakur.
I first saw the documentary Montgomery Clift in 1989. This film was part of a series of well produced documentaries on Hollywood rebel actors, released on video. Films on Marlon Brando and James Dean was also apart of the series titled as The Rebels: Montgomery Clift, The Rebels: Marlon Brando and The Rebels: James Dean. These films was produced and directed by Claudio Masenza.
The Rebels: Montgomery Clift is by far one of the most haunting documentaries I have ever seen on a public figure. This film examines in great detail Montgomery Clift lifelong bisexuality, his 1956 car accident that badly disfigured his face, his extensive drug use, his domineering mother, his relationships with Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe, and his feud with director John Huston, that destroyed his film career. The viewer will probably be left with a sympathetic, weird feeling of being happy that Montgomery Clift doesn't have to suffer anymore. Clift existed in a time where people had to hide their sexual attractions, unless conventional. It seemed that the film was saying that by Clift hiding his bisexuality in 1940's and 50's Hollywood, a town that built up macho images of men actors lead to his decline in his film career, which lead to more destructive behavior in later years.
This film is a must for people interested in studying method acting and its innovators, that in essence was the beginning of modern day cinema, that would reach it's peak in the 1960's and 70's. Marlon Brando, James Dean, Rod Steiger, John Cassavetes, Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Martin Sheen, Robert De Niro, and Tupac Shakur would have never have had a chance with their styles of acting and what each of these actors eventually conveyed to an audience, if one man had of decided to remain a gifted, unique stage actor on university campuses and on Broadway, instead of going to California to do pictures,which at the time in the 1930's and 40's, a not so celebrated luxury amongst stage actors and actresses. That man is Montgomery Clift. Clift was the beginning of method acting, that is used to great effect in films like Red River (1948), The Search (1950), From Here To Eternity (1953) and Indiscretions of an American Wife (1954). Actor John Garfield (1913-1952) is considered by many historians to be the first rebel actor in cinema.
I give this film **** stars/ excellent. It was on video in the late 80's. I haven't seen it on any video rental racks lately. Check it out if you can.
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