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Monty: A Biography of Montgomery Clift

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This first biography of Montgomery Clift breaks through the public and private façade of the brilliant actor who died, age 45, in 1966. With a worldly generosity, LaGuardia knowingly and sensitively explores a famous man haunted by same-sexuality. His writing fearlessly penetrates the dark areas of the human psyche. (Many unpublished photographs).


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This first biography of Montgomery Clift breaks through the public and private façade of the brilliant actor who died, age 45, in 1966. With a worldly generosity, LaGuardia knowingly and sensitively explores a famous man haunted by same-sexuality. His writing fearlessly penetrates the dark areas of the human psyche. (Many unpublished photographs).

30 review for Monty: A Biography of Montgomery Clift

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sketchbook

    Best of the Monty bios. The most sensational male star of the 50s -- does anyone under 50 know him today? When he turned down a part, it went to Brando who took 2ds. Red River, A Place in the Sun, The Heiress, I Confess, From Here to Eternity -- and then he fell apart. Drugs & Drink. Monty, who appeared on Bwy with the Lunts and Tallulah, seemed to be the US Olivier. He was dead, age 45. This followed a drunken, disfiguring car crash; some called it the longest suicide on record. What happened ? Best of the Monty bios. The most sensational male star of the 50s -- does anyone under 50 know him today? When he turned down a part, it went to Brando who took 2ds. Red River, A Place in the Sun, The Heiress, I Confess, From Here to Eternity -- and then he fell apart. Drugs & Drink. Monty, who appeared on Bwy with the Lunts and Tallulah, seemed to be the US Olivier. He was dead, age 45. This followed a drunken, disfiguring car crash; some called it the longest suicide on record. What happened ? The patrician Clift became a huge sex symbol in the bland Eisenhower 50s. He couldn't live up to this image for his same-sex double life fried his brain. Elizabeth Taylor adored him; singer-with-a-past Libby Holman protected him. Needy drama coach Mira Rostova, who died recently, age 99, insisted on control. She was smitten. Author LaGuardia, who later died of AIDS, has insights into Monty's furies that others (with media pals behind 'em) lack, and the writing is top-notch. "Men and women loved him for his masculine grace and looks," he writes. "Bobby-soxers screeched when his sensitive face loomed in movie theaters." Moguls bent to his demands. "He achieved power in Hollywood passively, without deviousness." His collapse and death is the darkest American Tragedy.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alice

    A few purple phrases, plus a lot of sweeping opinions which are stated as fact make this book not as good as Patricia Bosworth's biography. But there is a lot of interesting information (LaGuardia interviewed many of the important people in Clift's life) and it's worth it for the chapter about the filming of John Huston's Freud. This movie seemed to cause the entire cast and crew to have some form of mental breakdown as John Huston fulfilled a lifelong dream to tell the story of Freud's psycholo A few purple phrases, plus a lot of sweeping opinions which are stated as fact make this book not as good as Patricia Bosworth's biography. But there is a lot of interesting information (LaGuardia interviewed many of the important people in Clift's life) and it's worth it for the chapter about the filming of John Huston's Freud. This movie seemed to cause the entire cast and crew to have some form of mental breakdown as John Huston fulfilled a lifelong dream to tell the story of Freud's psychological realizations even though Huston hadn't read much Freud and found the subject of sexual repression distasteful! The complete breakdown of order and reason on the set is quite something to read about. It's just a shame that this bizarre movie effectively ended Montgomery Clift's career.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Evan

    In both proportion and depth, Laguardia’s bio of Clift exceeds Bosworth’s.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

    If you are a Montgomery Clift fan and idolize and adore him as much as I do this is a distressing and very difficult book to read. I first read it many years ago and it depressed me then as it has depressed me now. While he was born with a stunningly beautiful face and a talent so brilliant that could not be taught, it had to be innate, he was a man with a tortured soul. He was sensitive and complicated as many intense and luminous people are. He was haunted by ghosts unseen. The author was someti If you are a Montgomery Clift fan and idolize and adore him as much as I do this is a distressing and very difficult book to read. I first read it many years ago and it depressed me then as it has depressed me now. While he was born with a stunningly beautiful face and a talent so brilliant that could not be taught, it had to be innate, he was a man with a tortured soul. He was sensitive and complicated as many intense and luminous people are. He was haunted by ghosts unseen. The author was sometimes contradictory and attempted to add a bit of pseudo-psychology of his own, but most of what is contained in this biography is well known from movie magazines and newspaper reports of the day. It is a heart breaking account of a strikingly beautiful and brilliantly talented man. Died July 1966 – age 45. *While ‘beautiful’ is not a word often used to describe male looks, I use it with no apology because it is what he was, beautiful.*

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bruce

    Robert LaGuardia has written a fine book on the talented and self destructive Montgomery Clift. He only has 17 film credits in appearances on the screen dating from 1947 to 1966. Yet most are some of the best films that Hollywood ever made. For myself I only dislike two of them, Indiscretion Of An American Wife and The Defector. Clift was born in 1920 to a wealthy family who when the crash of 1929 while they didn't lose their shirts, living was strained a bit. Young Clift was pushed to the stage by Robert LaGuardia has written a fine book on the talented and self destructive Montgomery Clift. He only has 17 film credits in appearances on the screen dating from 1947 to 1966. Yet most are some of the best films that Hollywood ever made. For myself I only dislike two of them, Indiscretion Of An American Wife and The Defector. Clift was born in 1920 to a wealthy family who when the crash of 1929 while they didn't lose their shirts, living was strained a bit. Young Clift was pushed to the stage by his mother and became a child performer on Broadway making his debut in the Cole Porter musical Jubilee. He worked with a lot of famous performers like Alfred Lunt and Lynne Fontanne and Fredric March. He managed to avoid World War 2 service in a truly nasty way with a bout of amoebic dysentery acquired in Mexico on a trip there. Montezuma's revenge and then some. Of course he could have gotten out by saying he was gay, but in those years NOBODY declared that. Post war director Howard Hawks signed Clift for a new big budget western Red River with John Wayne where Clift would play Wayne's adopted son. It was shot in 1946, but a copyright suit held up release for two years. In the meantime Clift did The Search, a story about post war refugee kids. It was a sleeper hit and earned Clift a first Oscar nomination. Red River then came out and cemented his reputation. More film hits came along. He appeared opposite Olivia DeHavilland in The Heiress where she won for Best Actress in 1949. He did a minor film about the Berlin Airlift called The Big Lift. It's pretty good and Clift put a lot of depth into the character more than was there in the story. In 1951 he co-starred with Elizabeth Taylor for the 1st of three films in A Place In The Sun. That netted him a second Oscar nomination and a best friend in show business in Taylor. He did I Confess for Alfred Hitchcock playing a priest. Good, but not first rate Hitchcock. He then did Indiscretions Of An American Wife with Jennifer Jones which was shot in a hurry and was mediocre. Then it was his best career role and a third Oscar nod for From Here To Eternity as Robert E.Lee Pruitt. Sadly he and Burt Lancaster split the vote and the Oscar for 1953 went to William Holden for Stalag 17. He was off the screen for three years doing a lot of partying and carousing. Always with the fear he'd be outed. Elizabeth Taylor got him as her leading man for big budget Raintree County a truly beautiful film set during the Civil War. During the filming he was involved in a serious car crash and Clift was nearly killed. A lot of corrective surgery restored his face, but as Elizabeth Taylor said, the delicacy of features was gone. The film was delayed but finished. Clift did a bunch of films over the next few years. The Young Lions an epic World War 2 story co-starring him with Marlon Brando and Dean Martin, Lonelyhearts where he plays an advise to the lovelorn columnist, a third film with Elizabeth Taylor and Katharine Hepburn Tennessee Williams Suddenly Last Summer, a personal favorite of mine The Wild River which is set in Depression era Tennessee and Clift works for the new Tennessee Valley Authority. Finally The Misfits the legendary last film of both Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe. A fourth Oscar nomination, this time as a Supporting Actor in Judgment At Nuremberg where he plays a survivor of Nazi brutality In 1963 he had one last good film with a biographical film of Sigmund Freud entitle Freud. I like it though the account of what it took to get Clift through the movie by director John Huston is frightening. Clift was pretty dissipated by then. In 1966 he made a last film, a truly mediocre spy film called The Defector. He didn't like it and neither did the public after his death. Clift died in the fall of 1966 at the age of 45, the victim of a lot of substance abuse and a desire probably not to go on living. LaGuardia is a good writer and wrote a good tale. But I don't think he could have appreciated what life in the closet can do to someone. Who knows how Monty Clift would do today in a more open society? He deserved to truly enjoy life more.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    I had an old used copy of this book on my shelf for years. Monty, for some reason, is not as frequently written about as some of his contemporaries, so I was happy to find a book on him. Turns out some of the reticence in discussing him might have to do with the depressing subject matter. Far from the glamor of his screen persona, Monty's real life was riddled with complex psychological issues worsened by the drug and alcohol abuse that would ultimately contribute to his premature death. Nonethe I had an old used copy of this book on my shelf for years. Monty, for some reason, is not as frequently written about as some of his contemporaries, so I was happy to find a book on him. Turns out some of the reticence in discussing him might have to do with the depressing subject matter. Far from the glamor of his screen persona, Monty's real life was riddled with complex psychological issues worsened by the drug and alcohol abuse that would ultimately contribute to his premature death. Nonetheless, LaGuardia's book is very interesting. My only concern with it is that the reader only gets one interpretation of Monty's numerous and complicated "issues." It seems many other potential angles are ignored, and it risks fitting Monty's life into a single formula for convenience's sake.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sylvia Porter-hall

    I learned so much as a result of reading about Montgomery Clift. He is one of my mom's favorite actors. I like him as well. I came across his bio by way of a recommendation list that was in the back of a bio I was reading on Elizabeth Taylor. Such a talented actor who enjoyed such successful heights, only to crash land to a tragic end. When I see him in films in the future, I will have a renewed and even higher respect for his beautiful art that he shared so eagerly with the world. So glad to be I learned so much as a result of reading about Montgomery Clift. He is one of my mom's favorite actors. I like him as well. I came across his bio by way of a recommendation list that was in the back of a bio I was reading on Elizabeth Taylor. Such a talented actor who enjoyed such successful heights, only to crash land to a tragic end. When I see him in films in the future, I will have a renewed and even higher respect for his beautiful art that he shared so eagerly with the world. So glad to be able to witness those moments forever captured on film.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jack

    It captures Monty very well. It doesn't feel sensational or worshipful. Tells the story of his life with excellent insight, thought, and empathy. I quite liked it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    "Montgomery Clift" is a name I've heard all my life but I was born too late to be a fan when he was alive. So much of this story, therefore, was new to me. It is a sad story about a troubled man, told competently, but with catty editorializing by the author. Enough of the book was free of that for me to keep reading and enjoying, but it was still rattling. Overall, reading this book is like reading a train wreck. You don't stop turning pages, even knowing the trauma ahead.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    A rather pedestrian biography of Montgomery Clift. Certainly he was a tormented man, deeply involved in alcoholism and drug abuse. This was most likely brought on by his closeted homosexuality as well as other factors. Of course being closeted was necessary in the 40s and 50s in order to get work in Hollywood, although an actor's sexual preferences was usually known within the Hollywood community itself. The book would have been better if there had been more information about the making of some o A rather pedestrian biography of Montgomery Clift. Certainly he was a tormented man, deeply involved in alcoholism and drug abuse. This was most likely brought on by his closeted homosexuality as well as other factors. Of course being closeted was necessary in the 40s and 50s in order to get work in Hollywood, although an actor's sexual preferences was usually known within the Hollywood community itself. The book would have been better if there had been more information about the making of some of his best films, but it just focused on his erratic behavior on the set and not much else. There was some information about his close friendship with Elizabeth Taylor (albeit gaps of a few years at a time during the friendship), and comparisons to him to James Dean and Marlon Brando. I'm going to be reading a couple other biographies of Clift-- this was my first one -- and hope to find the other books have a more balanced content between Clift's life and his art, as this excellent actor deserved much better. **#33 of 100 books I pledged to read/review in 2015**

  11. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn F.

    I thought this was a pretty good biography. Went into his homosexuality and his disfigurement after his car accident and how that affected his movie career. I remember watching The Misfits again with totally different eyes.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rick Schoen

    A complex, intense read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    Sad. Monty was a tormented person. No peace.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Labbie

  15. 4 out of 5

    avin

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ananda

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ramona

  18. 5 out of 5

    David

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jan

  20. 5 out of 5

    Terrie

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sherri

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  23. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Stapel

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rob

  25. 5 out of 5

    David

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dwaine Schoner

  27. 4 out of 5

    Reelout

  28. 4 out of 5

    W

  29. 4 out of 5

    Joanne Ross

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jacqueline corkish

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