Montgomery Clift was an extraordinarily fine actor whose onscreen characterizations were as complex as they were provocative.
He led a miserable life towards the end — he died in 1966 at age 45 — a closeted gay man plagued by alcoholism and other ailments.
His life and career are well worth knowing about, so here are the answers to Monday’s Montgomery Clift quiz. For the questions, just scroll down to Monday’s blog. (Informing our answers is author Patricia Bosworth’s excellent 1978 biography of the actor.)
1) Answer: b) False. Clift was born in Omaha in 1920, a few hours after his twin sister. His father was a bank vice president, and the family lived in a comfortable home complete with maid and nurse.
2) Answer: c) and d). As a strikingly mature looking teenage model, Clift was photographed promoting shirts and pianos but not cigarettes or refrigerators.
3) Answer: b) False. In The Heiress Clift was cast as a fortune hunter pursuing Olivia DeHavilland in the title role. At the time, Hollywood considered the actor a rising sex symbol. Whatever, he and DeHavilland barely spoke to each other off-camera. Clift felt director William Wyler indulged his actress star to his detriment. In short, Clift-DeHavilland, a match not made in heaven.
4) Answer: d) Yes, John Wayne was a bit put off at the prospect of making a fistfight between himself (a hulking 6-feet-4) and Clift (a slight 5-feet-10) look credible onscreen. But he grew to respect Clift’s professionalism and intensity but not what the Duke saw as his arrogance.
5) Answer: d) James Dean, who died in 1955.
6) Answer: c) The party preceded that fateful car crash into a telephone pole enroute from Elizabeth Taylor’s house to Sunset Boulevard. According to author Bosworth, Clift’s nose was broken, jaw shattered, cheeks severely lacerated, and his upper lip split completely in half. Obviously, his looks (and his career) were never the same. Clift’s jaw was wired and the left side of his face remained virtually immobile.
7) Answer: b) They were competitive, or at least Marlon Brando was. They were also friends. Brando considered Clift an excellent actor who tested his (Brando’s) mettle. Clift was moved when Brando, concerned about the former’s heavy drinking, took time to make a lengthy, personal (and unsuccessful) plea to Clift to dry out.
8) Answer: b) False. Richard Burton once told Clift that “Elizabeth likes me but she loves you.” But Mr.-Taylor-twice was canny enough to understand Clift’s sexual bents, and was not particularly jealous. What Burton may not have known about was Clift’s dislike for him as an actor; Clift referred to his “reciting” rather than acting.
9) Answer: a) True. Bosworth’s biography recounts that during an intense scene with Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable was rattled in the middle of the take when Clift came up behind him and lit a cigarette. Un-distracted, Gable finished the scene but, later, in his dressing room railed: “That goddamn fag stole the scene from me by lighting that cigarette.” After viewing the rushes, Gable recanted, saying “That faggot is a hell of an actor.”
10) Answer: a) True, in one case. In 1961’s Judgement at Nuremberg, Judy Garland was cast as a German housefrau. Garland was nervous since it was her first movie part in seven years. Director Stanley Kramer — who described Garland as being “in terrible shape and big as a house” — felt she managed well. But when he asked costar Clift for his opinion, the actor tearfully said, “Awwww Stanley. She did it all wrong!“