The Sad Last Days of Montgomery Clift


Back in the 1950’s, Montgomery Clift was at the top of his game, among the highest of the echelon of actors for that time.  Marlon Brando stated that he thought Clift was his only serious competitor.


On May 12, 1956, while driving home from a party held by his close personal friend Elizabeth Taylor, his car crumpled into a phone pole, nearly killing him.  Surviving, his shattered face was corrected with plastic surgery; however, the left side remained paralyzed.

The 1960’s became a rough time for “Monty” except for 1961, when he received a Best Supporting Actor nomination for “Judgement at Nuremberg” and excellent reviews for “The Misfits”.

Unfortunately, after “Freud” (1962), a film beset with many setbacks and problems, Clift was no longer bankable.  (He would receive much of the blame, undeservedly.)  It was true, he had trouble remembering his lines.  He became addicted to drugs and alcohol, used to dull the pain of the accident.  An eccentric to begin with, later day behavior became increasingly bizarre.  Plus, his sight was failing due to cataracts.  He became un-insurable.

Still, Clift wanted to act.  He pleaded with Warner Brothers for the role of John Singer in “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter”.  Warners turned him down.  (Alan Arkin took the role, receiving an Oscar nomination.)


Clift and Liz Taylor discussed roles for them together.  They had already starred in “A Place in the Sun”, “Raintree County” and “Suddenly Last Summer”.  There was talk of them doing “The Owl and the Pussycat”.  (Later to be filmed with Barbra Streisand and George Segal.)

Ultiimately, they settled for “Reflections in a Golden Eye”.  Warner Bros. wanted proof he could still perform for the cameras.  So they cast him in the low-budget, grade-B cold war spy drama “The Defector”.  Clift knew it was schlock, yet did it anyway, just to prove he could still act.  It became his last.


Weeks before filming “Reflections”, Montgomery Clift died on July 23, 1966 of a heart attack.  He was only 45.  Ironically, he was replaced by his greatest competitor Marlon Brando.  Text © 2019 – EricReports.