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Montgomery Clift: A Biography

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  959 ratings  ·  71 reviews
...Because of Bosworth's artistry, her ability to choose the right details, and her own immersion in the subject...this book is an excursion into a life. -New York Times Book Review It stands as the definitive work on the gifted, haunted actor. -L
Paperback, 438 pages
Published August 1st 2004 by Limelight Editions (first published January 1st 1978)
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Average rating 3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  959 ratings  ·  71 reviews

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Jul 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you read any biography of Montgomery Clift, read this one. The rest don't matter.

I spent half of this book wanting to cry. For the sheer pain and loss of it, of watching this car crash happen for ten years and even for years before then, of yearning for him to make good, for him to be the hero you always sensed in the movies that he wanted to be even if the movie journeys ended in tragedy themselves.

It's such an accomplishment of a book, how it manages to work so much detail and so much inti
Lybia Elarbi
Ah, Montgomery Clift; arguably the most gifted actor of the modern age. A man who remains an enigmatic, elusive figure to this very day. There’s not much to say about Montgomery Clift that hasn’t already been said in this remarkably crafted, meticulously researched biography. He was a natural actor, a born mimic, who was somehow able to define the complexities of the human psyche through the art of make-believe. He personified the non-conformists, the loners; tortured, brooding young men, like t ...more
Oct 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
There’s a reason why this biography is considered, since its publication decades ago, as one of the very best ever written about a Hollywood personality. Bosworth has written a masterful book, which should be a model for any biographer. Written with great clarity and simplicity, yet always with style and intelligence, Clift goes behind the romantic myth of one of the great actors of the post-war era to deliver a stunningly powerful portrait – at the same time devastating, shocking, heartbreaking ...more
Alexandra Richland
Jan 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
One of the greatest, under-appreciated actors ever is Montgomery Clift. He lived such a tragic life, that his untimely death at the age of 46 came as no surprise to his friends and family. Clift was fragile and conflicted and unfortunately he turned to drugs and alcohol to deal with the pain. He was always a weak man to begin with, due to the way his mother treated him growing up so a lot of people remarked early on in his career that Hollywood would end up destroying him - how right they were. ...more
Jul 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Ten things you might not know about Montgomery Clift, the devastatingly handsome and intense actor who starred in classics like 'From Here to Eternity' and 'A Place in the Sun:'

1. His two favorite words were f--- and s---.

2. It drove his mother crazy when he wore t-shirts or khakis. She wanted him dressed like a gentleman at all times.

3. Born in Omaha but raised largely in Europe, he spoke French and German fluently, and spoke with an English accent as a young man.

4. He wanted to play Hamlet an
Aug 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: film
I know, I know, I know --you probably figure most biographers are hacks and they are but Patricia Bosworth is as hard-boiled as Dick Francis. She knows how to cut to the point and skip all the shit.
Jul 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: hollywood
Maybe it's my underdog complex, but I'm obsessed with Montgomery Clift and I'll argue until I'm blue in the face that at his best ("Red River," "The Search," "From Here to Eternity," "A Place in the Sun") he was better than Brando and Dean. Still, he only made 17 movies, and some of them were uninspired, a few of them even bad. Clift died suddenly in his sleep at age 46, putatively of cardiac failure, though it is well known that his deteriorating health had much to do with his long history of d ...more
Paul Gaya Ochieng Simeon Juma
Montgomery Clift was a very talented actor. He acted a number of movies including, a place in the sun, from here to eternity, the search, I confess etc. He also won a number of awards from his great acting career.

However, just like the characters in the novel, valley of the dolls, Monty had a difficult time living. He struggled with alcoholism and addiction to various kind of drugs including, sleeping pills, tranquilizers etc.

He was also very confused about his sexuality. He was attracted to b
Sep 02, 2013 rated it liked it
With "Montgomery Clift: A Biography," I have to remember that I'm reviewing the book, not the subject.

Don't get me wrong: Monty Clift, to me, is one of the best actors to come out of the 1940's and 50's. He had poise and presence, and he worked harder than anyone to craft his performances. In many of his films, the reviews read something like, "God, this movie sucks, but Montgomery Clift gives a splendid performance as..."

His behavior off-screen was sometimes angelic, sometimes deplorable.

In C
Mar 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A troubled man

This book really hooked me early on. I'm not sure exactly why. But the life of one of our Hollywood heroes fascinated me, as I was a big fan of his work, and was curious about his dealing with the homophobia of the day. His relationships with friends like Liz Taylor was truly a wonderful thing to experience. He was truly a very talented and troubled boy and man. The author does a fine job of telling this fascinating story.
Dec 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
For awhile in this biography of one of the best actors of his generation, I really didn't LIKE Montgomery Clift. But as you learn about his childhood and his mother (WHAT a piece of work that woman was!) you begin to understand the very high price Monty paid dealing with his myriad self doubts and torments while crafting roles that, by the end of the film, you went away convinced no one else could have portrayed. Homosexuality in Hollywood in the 1950s was totally denied, and outing yourself was ...more
Apr 13, 2011 rated it liked it
I first heard of Monty Clift from the Clash song "The Right Profile," but I didn't see any of his movies until I rented I Confess when I was in my 20s. I immediately knew there was something special about him. I was mesmerized by A Place in the Sun and how I could see him express several emotions in succession without appearing to do anything. Then, of course, there's his devastating beauty. Who else in 1953 had a six-pack? To heck with Burt Lancaster; to me, Monty is the star of From Here to Et ...more
Aug 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
ay, where did I see this guy?
In red river?
Or a place in the sun?
Maybe the misfits?
Or from here to eternity?

Everybody say, is he all right?
And everybody say, whats he like?
Everybody say, he sure look funny.
Thats...montgomery clift, honey!

New york, new york, new york, 42nd street
Hustlers rustle and pimps pimp the beat
Monty clift is recognized at dawn
He aint got no shoes and his clothes are torn

I see a car smashed at night
Cut the applause and dim the light
Montys face is broken on a wheel
Is he alive
Dec 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, actors
Well written and researched biography of a tortured and talented American actor.

How to Be a Movie Star: Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood How to Be a Movie Star Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood by William J. Mann , is a good companion to this biography.
Great book, read 2x going to read again. Best actor of his time
I've been a huge fan of Montgomery Clift's ever since I first saw Suddenly, Last Summer. Not the best film he's ever done, not a film he completed when he was in his prime, but a film that has improved over the years as one of those movies that was so before it's time. Since seeing this film, I fell down a rabbit hole of watching Clift, especially making sure that I saw movies like 'A Place in the Sun' and 'From Here to Eternity'. As you may be able to tell, I'm a big fan.

However, I didn't know
Russell Sanders
Jun 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Patricia Bosworth’s 1978 biography, Montgomery Clift is a remarkable book. Not only does she make Clift’s life a harrowing, cautionary tale, but Bosworth also gives us an appreciation for one of the mid-twentieth century’s greatest acting talents. Clift was an alcoholic, drug-addicted man whose life was stunted from childhood by a controlling mother. His performances on stage and screen were carefully-planned explorations of character, often using—as most great actors do—his own experiences and ...more
Paul Romero
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
When I was younger (early 20's) to about this time (2009, was the last time I have read this biography) in my early 30's, I felt an extremely close relation between the two of us. Creative, kind, and humorous yet a mad scientist that was secretly a self-loathing, and self medicating pharmacist. As I add this review (2017 at the age 41), I am happy to say I have surpassed this way of being, believing (the darker ways) and now find myself in a white light and continue to enjoy my life, knowing we ...more
Patrick Duran
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is probably one of the most illuminating biographies I have ever read. Bosworth interviewed a vast array of friends and colleagues to compose a haunting portrait of a talented but troubled soul. It would be completely heartbreaking if Monty were more likable.
Mary Narkiewicz
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A really great biography that I couldn't put down.. And I never lost interest from start to finish.
Stephenie C Lawson
Overreacted Angst

Book did not flow well. Told with too much angst and over emphasis on his acting to the point of overreacting in a bio.
Mar 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I've always liked him, and I knew he was troubled. However, I didn't believe just how much and how deep it ran until this book. It's an amazing, amazing read!
Apr 27, 2015 rated it liked it
I’m glad to know more about Monty Clift, but I also wish I didn’t know so much about him now. I’ve always wanted to know more about him and thought it would make a good project of reading this book while watching his films simultaneously. His films stand tall without the additional knowledge of his life, his dysfunction, his sexuality. But his charisma and even his good looks have been damaged for me with the knowledge that he could be crass and cruel to friends, that he was vain intellectually ...more
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: performing-arts
In this biography by Patricia Bosworth, there's a quote from Marilyn Monroe on Montgomery Clift: "He's the only person I know who's in worse shape than I am." If this book can be summed up in one sentence, that would be it.

But I have more than one sentence, so I'll continue...

I decided to read this book because it was referenced several times in Somebody: The Reckless Life and Remarkable Career of Marlon Brando by Stefan Kanfer and I guess I was intrigued. Montgomery Clift really had the deck s
Jul 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was a well-crafted biography of talented-but-tortured actor Montgomery Clift. Clift got his start in New York theater, but quickly became a movie star with his appearance in 1948's "Red River" with John Wayne, as well as the heartthrob (although a murderous one) in "A Place In The Sun" in 1951. He was seen as part of the 'dark, brooding type' of movie star such as Marlon Brando and James Dean were in the 50s. He had long-term platonic relationships with actor Kevin McCarthy and Elizabeth Ta ...more
Jan 27, 2008 rated it liked it
One of those roundabout stories about how you find a book, and how it finds you: As a teenage record collector, I came upon a British creation called LP magazine. It was a gatefold LP, with several magazine pages in it, with features about the different artists who were on the album. It's the first time I got to hear Lloyd Cole & the Commotions' cover of "Glory." In the photo that accompanied the unremarkable story about Cole — who had captured my ear and who I still revere today — he was pi ...more
Sep 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Writing biographies--and reading them, too, I suppose--can be rather dull. Not for Patricia Bosworth, though. Somehow she made reading about someone's life very intriguing, juicy, and sometimes even rather vulgar. Though, I think she didn't have to work so hard at that when she had Montgomery Clift's life as material.

And his life. Wow, what a life. Monty is one of my favorite actors and arguably one of the best ones that ever graced the silver screen, too. Such an underrated actor as well, even
Sep 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
He was for years my favorite actor, the most astonishing on the screen where in The Search he could convey the whole drama of an American soldier still in Europe after the war. A slight tightening of the jaw and you couldn't help wondering what was coming next. In Wild River a scene with Lee Remick was the most sensual I'd ever seen on screen. And later in bad movies so disappointing and yet still giving us something more than the medium called for. Bosworth is a good biographer, making her subj ...more
Terry Michael
Aug 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: hollywood
An uncomplicated view of a complicated, beautiful actor. Bosworth focuses on the psychology of Clift's life. Raised by an eccentric mother, he was a young boy when he did his first stage play. He pre-dated James Dean's fame by a few years - and Dean, Brando, and Actor's Studio alums thought he was the real deal. Bosworth chronicles how Clift's sensitive, almost erotic performances bridged old Hollywood "pretty" to new Hollywood's raw, more realistic portrayals. He was a stunning actor celebrated ...more
Mar 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Such a gifted man, such a tragic tale. As an appreciation of a tumultuous life, this book shows us what it was like to know, admire, and care for such a talented, troubled man. Bosworth shows us his tremendous skill and appeal as a performer, and his dedication to his work, right up to the end. The book's structure is episodic, and Bosworth doesn't really provide a summation of his life or an analysis of his impact. But she does capture his contradictions: generous, intelligent, charming, and lo ...more
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Patricia Bosworth is an American journalist and biographer. A former faculty member of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, she has also been an editor, actress, and model.
“One must know a bad performance to know a good one. You can't be middle-of-the-road about it, just as you can't be middle-of-the-road about life. I mean, you can't say about Hitler, I can take him or leave him. Well, I can't be middle-of-the-road about a performance, especially my own. I feel that if I can vomit at seeing a bad performance, I'm ahead of the game.” 7 likes
“Once out of work, Monty, like many actors, lost his confidence, and his sense of identity.” 0 likes
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