best film:  Red River is an all-time great western and all-time great Howard Hawks film so that’s enough in it of itself. However, I also think it’s an all-time great and landmark film as far as film acting goes. It’s Clift’s debut (landmark in it of itself) which means it’s really an important film for a new school of acting—less stagey, more natural— method. Clift (some would argue John Garfield) was really the first of a new school (notably Marlon Brando and James Dean) that differed from their predecessors (Gable, Bogart, Cagney—- Wayne). If you have that in comparison with an all-time John Wayne (old school even in 1948) Hollywood actor performance and it’s one for the ages.

best performance: Red River. Clift’s Matt Garth is sensitive and in many ways couldn’t be more different than John Wayne’s Thomas Dunson. He’s softer and it’s a massive testament to Clift as an actor that Wayne’s performance doesn’t swallow him up whole because Dunson is a whirlwind. Clift is just about equal to his work here in his top four performances below but with the acting on display dueling with Wayne, Hawks’ behind the camera, and what this film means for the genre- this is Clift’s best work.

stylistic innovations/traits:  18 IMDB credits and dead at 45. Montgomery Clift was a revelation from 1948-1956 when he had a massive car accident (apparently Liz Taylor- his friend- saved his life) and had to have his face rebuilt. Some commented that his life from 1956-1966 was a 10 year suicide attempt. He still acted a few times in those 10 years but it wasn’t the same. Clift is the actor most often cited with a changing of the guard in cinema acting and I think rightly so. His natural approach influenced (and pre-dated) Marlon Brando and Brando changed everything. James Dean admitted his admiration for Clift openly. There are great pleasures to take from the quiet moments in a Montgomery Clift performance. It’s a miracle of acting that he’s somewhat sympathetic in A Place in the Sun, I Confess is just now getting it’s due for the monster of a performance that it is and of course Red River–.

directors worked with:   Fred Zinneman (2) was the only director more than once—but ten you have Hawks, Wyler, George Stevens Hitchcock, John Huston and Kazan

Top 5 Performances:

  1. Red River
  2. A Place in the Sun
  3. I Confess
  4. From Here To Eternity
  5. Wild River

Archiveable films

1948- Red River
1948- The Search
1949- The Heiress
1951- A Place in the Sun
1953- From Here To Eternity
1953- I Confess
1958- Lonelyhearts
1958- The Young Lions
1959- Suddenly Last Summer
1960- Wild River
1961- The Misfits