Out and About
“Making Montgomery Clift” – reflections on a Hollywood heartthrob – screens January 16th (Toronto)
Montgomery (Monty) Clift was one of the most influential actors in the history of cinema, bucking traditions on and off screen, but countless biographies have reduced him to labels like “tragically self-destructive” and “tormented.”
The iconic Hollywood actor Montgomery Clift is brought to a new light by his nephew Robert Clift, who uncovers never-before-seen footage and exclusive audio interviews collected by the filmmaker’s father. We gain new insight into the life of the legendary actor who was unashamed of his sexuality, maintained a great sense of humour, and even defied the studio system.
This film is part documentary, part home movie, thanks to the hard work and dedication of Clift’s nephew, Robert. It honestly feels like you’re sitting in the basement of Robert’s house watching and listening to old VHS and reel-to-reel tapes, which in essence is what this film is. Robert’s father had a knack for recording phone conversations, and practically recorded every phone conversation he had over the past several decades up to his passing. Apparently, it may have stemmed from his service in the military. Ironically, Monty also had the same penchant for recording many of his calls as well. So with all this archival footage available, Robert took it upon himself to ruffle through it and see what he could uncover.
Although Monty died in 1966 at the young age of 45, his legacy lives on, much like that of James Dean. There’s so much mystery that surrounded these two individuals, much of it owed to their ambiguous sexuality. So much so, that most of what has been written about them always seems to divert back to who they might have been sleeping with. Yes, it was the swinging sixties, but in Hollywood, you had to be straight (or act that way) in order to stay in the business. How times have changed since then!
So what Robert aims to do with this film is shine the light on other aspects of Monty’s life besides who he went to bed with. He sort of picked up where his father left off. His father was very involved with Monty’s estate after his death, and worked closely with biographer’s wanting to capture his life story. Unfortunately, nothing published lived up to his standards. Beyond the recordings and video footage, there are a handful of individuals who are still living who Robert has the opportunity to speak with, including a former actor he had a short fling with, and one of the biography writers.
All in all, it’s a great retrospective of a man many never knew, and many others who might not have even heard of him. We gain insight into his quirky ways within the Hollywood industry, a humourous side he wasn’t known for, and yes a bit about his sexuality. It’s definitely worth a watch, especially if you have no prior knowledge of this teen angel.
Robert’s access to interviews with family and close friends of Monty turn against the faulty narrative made popular by previous biographies and documentaries that considered him “the slowest suicide in Hollywood history.” Thoroughly well-researched and edited, Robert—along with co-director Hillary Demmon—brings to the surface a personal account of his uncle Monty and his father Brooks Clift that forces viewers to ask: Who do we trust to write our history? Making Montgomery Clift brings the star out of the archive, and further out of the closet.
Drawing on interviews with family and loved ones and a rich collection of unreleased archival materials from Monty and his brother, Brooks Clift, this fresh portrait of the actor’s passions, contributions and commitment to living and working in his own way gives one of Hollywood’s underappreciated legends his due.
Inside Out presents a special More Play screening of Making Montgomery Clift on Wednesday, January 16th, 2019 | 7:30 PM at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King Street West, Toronto
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.