7 Minutes of Monty

Well, it appears that an unexpected wave of Monty fever has swept the Pictorial!

There has been a huge swell of interest in Montgomery Clift over the past few days, we’ve received plenty of emails, and our recent profile on his life has become our most popular posting ever.

This being the case, the Pictorial is all too happy to revisit the man and his work with this riveting scene from his 1961 Oscar-Nominated role in Judgement at Nuremberg. Clift plays Mr. Petersen, a Jew who was sterilized by the Nazis during the War for being “mentally incompetent.”

The evil of it all is hard to imagine … and the fragile sanity of Monty’s sensitive performance is difficult to watch.

It is only about 7 minutes in length, and Monty refused to receive a salary for such a small part. At first it was not easy for director Stanley Kramer to get the performance he wanted from Monty who was having a very difficult time remembering his lines. By the time of filming, Monty was 43 years old and had only three more years to live–his body and mind wrecked from pills, alcohol and his debilitating car accident. The frustration mounted to the point that costar Spencer Tracy told him just to say whatever came up into his mind and he’d play off it.

It was inspired advice. The aching words that came from Monty could not have been scripted. When Kramer yelled cut, Spencer flew from his seat on the bench and embraced Monty.

It was a moment that led to Clift’s fourth and final Oscar nomination.

By the way, Oscar gold went to West Side Story that year.

Sigh. Typical Academy.

Posted by

Film writer and social media marketing professional. 2019 Social Ambassador for the 10th Annual TCM Classic Film Festival. Previously: social media associate at Warner Archive and script writer for Turner Classic Movies. Working on a Montgomery Clift biography due late 2020.

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