In discussions regarding the beginnings of onscreen method acting, Montgomery Clift is often unfairly shunted away in favor of Marlon Brando and James Dean. The actor first came to prominence in 1948, courtesy of lead roles in both Fred Zinnemann’s WWII film “The Search” and opposite John Wayne in Howard Hawks’s “Red River.” Clift went on to celluloid immortality via films like “From Here To Eternity,” “I Confess,” “Judgment At Nuremberg” and “A Place In Sun,” earning four Oscar nominations along the way. A documentary examining Clift’s life and work from the early nineties has surfaced, and is an excellent primer for his exceptional and yet underexamined career.
Despite his distaste for “business as usual” in Hollywood and some poor career choices, Clift could very well have been as celebrated as the two famous contemporaries mentioned above. But a near-fatal car crash in 1956 during the shooting of “Raintree County” forever changed his life and drove him to an addiction to painkillers.
Produced as part of the Channel 4 series “Post Mortem,” which examined the relationship between artists’ work and their health, this nearly half-hour Clift-centric episode tracks the actor from childhood (when he battled amoebic dysentery) to his various addictions and that terrible crash. Watch the documentary below. [Dangerous Minds]