A Young and Very Charming Montgomery Clift in the 1940s

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After performing in the Broadway production of There Shall Be No Light, a work which won the 1941 Pulitzer Prize, Montgomery Clift (born Edward Montgomery Clift) decided to move to Hollywood. One of the original method actors, along with Marlon Brando and James Dean, Clift was also remembered for carrying out such rare move by not signing a contract to any studios, only doing so after his first two films were successful, which were Fred Zinnemann’s The Search and Howard Hawks’ Red River, both were released in 1948.

Clift’s performance as a soldier in The Search earned him his first Academy Awards nomination for Best Actor, even led to director Zinnemann’s being asked, “Where did you find a soldier who can act so well?” It was reported that because Clift was not much taken with the dialogue in the screenplay, he reworked his own lines in order to shape his characterization as naturalistic as possible.

Clift appeared in the 1949 drama film The Heiress along with Olivia de Havilland, although he ended up displeased with his performance, and left early during the film premiere.

Let’s take a look back at young Monty during the 1940s:

Montgomery Clift as Richard Miller in ‘Ah, Wilderness,’ May 1944. Photo by NBCUniversal.

Onslow Stevens and Montgomery Clift sit and talk in a scene from the Theatre Guild’s production of Andre Birabeau’s play ‘Dame Nature,’ circa 1945. Photo by Hulton Archive.

Montgomery Clift in uniform while playing a tin whistle, circa 1945. Photo by FPG.

Montgomery Clift manning wheelbarrow as he helps his friend Fred Green with cement mixer, as they work on building Green’s new home, 1948. Photo by J. R. Eyerman for LIFE.

Montgomery Clift manning wheelbarrow as he helps his friend Fred Green with cement mixer, as they work on building Green’s new home, 1948. Photo by J. R. Eyerman for LIFE.

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