Montgomery Clift would have been 90 years old today.
Regular Pictorial readers know just how much we admire this truly brilliant, tragic figure of the theatre and film. I had the good fortune of attending a screening of Elia Kazan‘s understated period powerhouse WILD RIVER at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences earlier this week, in glorious widescreen 35 mm CinemaScope. Although it’s a film I’ve seen on more than one occasion, I was still bowled over by Clift’s performance. Jo Van Fleet steals the show, as she so often does, and Lee Remick is a dazzling spitfire of passionate energy… but Clift is the spine. Virile yet vulnerable, stubborn but impressionable, its a performance weighted in quiet pauses and uncomfotable silences and hesitant gestures that make Montgomery Clift performances eternally fresh.
I’ve found that there is always something new to discover in a Clift film, no matter how often you’ve seen it, because the man gave his all–in compact gossamer layers. Sometimes delicate, sometimes violent–but always achingly, searchingly honest. Unraveling … before your eyes …
And since truth is eternal, well, then so is Monty.
Oh sure, he isn’t the greatest actor of all time. But the man is one of the greats.
90 years after his birth,and he’s still a true one-of-a-kind that we’ve never quite seen the like of since.
And so we sign off with a touchingly lovely tribute video from YouTube user The Big Valley … YouTube tributes are often unbearable. This one? Sublime: