Handsome Photos of Actor Montgomery Clift During the Filming of ‘Red River’ (1948)

Red River is a 1948 American Western film, directed and produced by Howard Hawks and starring John Wayne and Montgomery Clift. It gives a fictional account of the first cattle drive from Texas to Kansas along the Chisholm Trail. The dramatic tension stems from a growing feud over the management of the drive, between the Texas rancher who initiated it (Wayne) and his adopted adult son (Clift).

The film’s supporting cast features Walter Brennan, Joanne Dru, Coleen Gray, Harry Carey, John Ireland, Hank Worden, Noah Beery Jr., Harry Carey Jr. and Paul Fix. Borden Chase and Charles Schnee wrote the screenplay, based on Chase’s original story (which was first serialized in The Saturday Evening Post in 1946 as “Blazing Guns on the Chisholm Trail”).

Upon its release, Red River was both a commercial and a critical success and was nominated for two Academy Awards. In 1990, Red River was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” Red River was selected by the American Film Institute as the 5th greatest Western of all time in the AFI’s 10 Top 10 list in 2008.

Edward Montgomery Clift (October 17, 1920 – July 23, 1966) was an American actor. A four-time Academy Award nominee, The New York Times said he was known for his portrayal of “moody, sensitive young men”.

He is best remembered for his roles in Howard Hawks’s Red River (1948), George Stevens’s A Place in the Sun (1951), Fred Zinnemann’s From Here to Eternity (1953), Stanley Kramer’s Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), and John Huston’s The Misfits (1961).

Along with Marlon Brando and James Dean, Clift was considered one of the original method actors in Hollywood (though Clift distanced himself from the term); he was one of the first actors to be invited to study in the Actors Studio with Lee Strasberg and Elia Kazan. He also executed a rare move by not signing a contract after arriving in Hollywood, only doing so after his first two films were a success. This was described as “a power differential that would go on to structure the star–studio relationship for the next 40 years”. A documentary titled Making Montgomery Clift was made by his nephew in 2018, to clarify many myths that were created about the actor.

On July 22, 1966, Clift was in his New York City townhouse, located at 217 East 61st Street. He and his private nurse, Lorenzo James, had not spoken much all day. After midnight, shortly before 1:00 a.m., James went to his own bedroom to sleep, without saying another word to Clift.

At 6:30 a.m., James woke up and went to wake Clift, but found the bedroom door closed and locked. Concerned and unable to break the door down, James ran down to the back garden and climbed up a ladder to enter through the second-floor bedroom window. Inside, he found Clift dead: he was undressed, lying in his bed still wearing his eyeglasses and with both fists clenched by his side. James then used the bedroom telephone to call some of Clift’s personal physicians and the medical examiner’s office before an ambulance arrived.

Clift’s body was taken to the city morgue about 2 miles (3.2 km) away at 520 First Avenue, and autopsied. The autopsy report cited the cause of death as a heart attack brought on by “occlusive coronary artery disease”. No evidence was found that suggested foul play or suicide.

It is commonly believed that drug addiction was responsible for Clift’s many health problems and his death. In addition to lingering effects of dysentery and chronic colitis, an underactive thyroid was later revealed during the autopsy. The condition (among other things) lowers blood pressure; it could have caused Clift to appear drunk or drugged when he was sober. Underactive thyroids also raise cholesterol, which might have contributed to his heart disease.

Following a 15-minute funeral at St. James’ Church on Madison Avenue in Manhattan, which was attended by 150 guests, including Lauren Bacall, Frank Sinatra, and Nancy Walker, Clift was buried in the Friends Quaker Cemetery, Prospect Park, Brooklyn. Elizabeth Taylor, who was in Rome, sent flowers, as did Roddy McDowall (who had recently co-starred with Clift in The Defector), Judy Garland, Myrna Loy, and Lew Wasserman. (Wikipedia)

Take a look at these vintage photos to see handsome portraits of a young Montgomery Clift during the filming of Red River in 1948.

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