Montgomery Clift

  1. Tommy Kelly, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, 1937.      At age 13, Clift first made his name in Fly Away Home on Broadway. Therefore, producer David O Selznick insisted on testing him as Tom – opposite the 14-year-old Anne Baxter as Becky Thatcher. The test never happened. Monty had bad acne!   CUT to 1950 – and they’re making I, Confess for Alfred Hitchcock in Quebec.
  2. Richard Ney, Mrs Miniver, 1942.        Demanding script approval, he refused his first offer from “Vomit, California,” as he called Hollywood. The film was fine, not the seven-year MGM contract o r“slavery pact.”  Made his debut, for MGM, anyway, in The Search, 1948. And Ney, 26, married his screen mother, Greer Garson, 38.
  3. KirkDouglas,The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, 1945.     Somehow Kirk was favoured over Clift and Richard Widmark as Barbara Stanwyck’s weak spouse.
  4. Robert  Mitchum, Pursued, 1947.        Oddly enough for the New York actor who would make his name in Red River,  Monty looked ridiculous as a cowboy in his test. Teresa Wright’s choice also looked too young, too small. Joel McCrea and Robert Taylor were too old. Jack Warner refused to consider Kirk Douglas. And Mitchum won his first lead.
  5. John Dall, Rope, 1947.    For his first colour movie, Alfred Hitchcock tempted  fate by trying to convince Clift and Cary Grant to play (the implied) gay student and his gay teacher based on 1920s Leopold and Loeb murder case, inspired by  Dallas Bower’s BBC TV production, circa 1939, and totally ruined by The Master showing of with ten-minute takes – which  proved to  be stilted and, worse,  boring.
  6. James Stewart, The Stratton Story, 1949.      For the baseball star losing a leg,
  7. Kirk Douglas, The Glass Menagerie, 1949.  The  first Tennessee Williams play to be filmed.  By Elia Kazan?   Not at all.  Irving Rapper got the gig, having moved up from, dialogue director to full-time helmer – and surviving three battles with the irascible Bette Davis. Gertrude Lawrence and Jane Wyman played Amanda and her handicapped daughter, Laura  (based on the playwright’s mother and sister). Clift  was in the mix (with Marlon Brando   and Ralph Meeker) for Jim O’Cpnnor –  Laura’s famous “gentleman caller.”  Over the years, he has also been played by such actors as George Gizzard, John Heard and Rip Torn. Later films were way better, even those made in Bollywood and Iran.
  8. Gary Merrill, All About Eve, 1950.

  9. William Holden, Sunset Blvd, 1950.    
    Director Billy Wilder wrote it for Monty as A Can Of Beans!   Clift called it “the definitive Hollywood ghost story” but quit two weeks before shooting began on April 11,1949., when his lady thought she was the ghost…  Monty was living the story – obsessed with the 30 years older alcoholic Libby Holman, a 20s torch singer, who wed, shot and killed the RJ Reynolds tobacco heir in what a coroner ruled an accident. (Producer David O Selznick used the case as the basis of Jean Harlow’s Reckless, 1935). Holman threatened suicide if he made what she saw as their story.

  10. Glenn Ford, Follow The Sun, 1950.   Heqd Fox Darryl F Zanuck first wanted Clift heading the biopic about US star golfer Ben Hogan – his life, times, trophiers and courageous recovery from a near fatal car smash to win and win again. To become (with Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Gene Sarazan, Tiger Woods) one of five golfers to have won all four major championships.
  11. Audie Murphy, The Red Badge of Courage, 1951.      Producer Gottfried Reinhardt’s choice while director John Huston insisted on America’s most decorated World War II soldier – encouraged into acting by James Cagney.
  12. Dewey Martin, The Big Sky, 1951 The only time Howard Hawks ever envisaged Brando for a film was for AB Guthrie Jr’s Western “love story” of Boone Caudill  and the older Jim Deakins. The Silver Fox mused upon Brando in either role opposite Sydney Chaplin, Charlton Heston, Robert Mitchum or, more explosively, Montgomery  Clift (!). Marlon was too expensive at $125,00) and Hawks slid downwards into Kirk Douglas and Dewey Martinwho sounded like one of Donald Duck’s nephews. 
  13. Alan Ladd, Shane, 1951.    Director George Stevens first planned a titular Clift with  William Holden  as rancher Joe Starrett.  Shot during  July-October 1951, it wasn’t released  until 1953 due to Stevens’ lengthy editing and  Paramount losing faith until Howard Hughes tried to buy it!  Billy Crystal was taken to the movie by his babysitter  – Billie Holliday!  As  the kid kept calling “Come back, Shane” as Ladd  rode off at he end, Billie proved well versed in such departures…  “He ain’t never comin’ back!”
  14. Gary Cooper, High Noon, 1951.  Sidney Lumet called it ”a romantic version of real life.”  Scenarist Carl Forman created Marshal Will Kane for Fonda – passed over by the suits on being grey-listed for his politics. “Not for me,” said Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, Charlton Heston, John Wayne…  Gregory Peck found it  too similar to his previous Gunfighter(!).  And Kirk came thisclose to being Marshal Will Kane with Lola Albright as the missus. Cooper was keener.  He even cut his fee to wear the tin star – and win the Oscar on March 19, 1953. Plus friendship for life with Forman, who fled to London and…  The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Key, The Guns of Navarone, The Victors, Mackenna’s Gold, Young Winston.
  15. Dewey Martin, The Big Sky, 1951.     Despite (or because of) having made Red River with director Howard Hawks in 1947, Clift passed on the latest Hawks Western – from the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by the Shane author AB Guthrie Jr – centre of a trilogy starting with The Big Sky, filmed, in 1951, and the last, Three Thousand Hills, in 1958.
  16. Dirk Bogarde, Penny Princess, 1952.  There is no known comment on  record  from Cary Grant  about refusing this cheese salesman (!)  in the empty UK “comedy” writer-directed by the usually much better Val Guest.  Doubtless Cary   – or Guest’s other lofty targets: Montgomery Clift, Robert Cummings, William Holden and Frank Sinatra    – would have agreed with Bogarde’s summation:  “As funny as a baby’s coffin.”
  17. James Mason, A Star Is Born, 1953..”
  18. Marlon Brando, On The Waterfront, 1954.     Ironically, they shared the same agents: Jay Kanter in Hollywood, Edith Van Cleeve in New York. “Marlon is continously creative even with shitty material,” noted Monty. “He shows you what’s going on inside of himself.” And a lot was…  According to producer Sam Spiegel, Brando never forgave Elia Kazan for naming names in the McCarthy era because an old actor friend died as a result.  “Waterfront also showed a man denouncing to the legal authorities the sins of his tribe.  Marlon felt the script justified Kazan’s behavior.”  Brando refused in August 1953, leading to Sinatra’s  handshake deal. Director Elia Kazan, The Boy Genius of Broadway,  feared The Voice would split too  early for his next gig. OK, Clift… or Paul Newman.  Spiegel never gave up on Brando and it was Marlon’s  father who solved the issue.  He called his son’s agent, Jay Kanter: “Isn’t there anything you feel he should do?” 
  19. Edmund Purdom, The Egyptian, 1953.     If it wasn’t good enough for  Brando, then it wasn’t good enough  for Clift. (He quit after the first day of rehearsal). Truth was court physician Sinuhe wasn’t good enough for anyone (Dirk Bogarde, John Cassevetes, Richard Conte, John Derek, Rock Hudson, John Lund, Guy Madison, Hugh O’Brian, Michael Pate) and Purdom wasn’t good enough for it. 

  20. Marlon Brando, Desirée, 1954.      
    Or Daisy Rae as Brando insisted on calling her.   Talking of shitty material…    Clift had no interest in playing Napoleon. Nor did Brando, who didn’t take him as seriously as his Marc Antony.  Not the same writer, of course.  Brando was shocked when Clift said he had been asked first.  Brando to Clift: “You your ass is far too skinny to play Napoleon.  They would have had to pad your butt.”  Brando signed on (to clear a Fox lawsuit)while begging Clift to join AA,  Alcoholics Anonymous. “You’ve made me a better actor,” Marlon told Monty,  “because I want to be better than you. You’re my touchstone. My challenge. Ever since I saw A Place in the Sun, I knew you could take the screen from me.” After the praise, came the uppercut: “But… you nevcr lived up to your promise.” D’oh!  (Clift hit back: “At least I didn’t make Guys and Dolls,  singing and dancing with Sinatra”).  They neverworked together, not even sharing a scene as The Young Lions, 1958.

  21. Robert Wagner, Broken Lance, 1954.    Taking on  a role intended for Monty Clift was the high point of RJ’s career.  It never got better than that.  Spencer Tracy played Wagner’s father – which proved the nonsense of them playing siblings two years later on The Mountain.
  22. Richard Burton, Prince of Players,1954.     The script was just too ponderous for Brando.  As Montgomery Clift could have told him.  Mon often called “poor Richard’s acting -reciting.”
  23. Richard Davalos, East of Eden, 1954.      Brando and Clift, said Elia Kazan, for the Trask brothers. Having them sharing scenes would have been impossible, said Edward (Young Lions) Dmytryk. They had opposing methods. After two takes, Clift got mechanical. Brando, according to Fred Zinnemann, once required 71 takes to look out of a window.
  24. Robert Mitchum, Not As A Stranger, 1955.     Like Brando, Monty had earned the pick of the crop, just did not fancy many of them…
  25. Gordon MacRae, Oklahoma, 1955.    He saw both but director Fred Zinnemann wanted actors rather than singers… Clift, James Dean, Paul Newman, Dale Robertson, Robert Stack, plus singers Vic Damone and Howard Keel, as Curly… Ann Blyth, Ailene Roberts, Eva Marie Saint, Joanne Woodward (and OK, just two singers: Kathryn Grayson, Jane Powell)… or even Piper Laurie for Laurey…  Ernest Borgnine, Marlon Brando, Lee Marvin, Rod Steiger or Eli Wallach for poor Jud Fry. However, the musical’s parents had casting approval – Rodgers and Hammerstein, agreed only about Steiger. And Oklahoma was played by… Arizona.
  26. Van Johnson, End of the Affair, 1955.    Not even if  meant a reunion with Deborah Kerr from From Here To Eternity.  
  27. James Dean, Giant, 1955. 
  28. Tony Curtis, Trapeze, 1955Herman Citron warbled the agents’ anthem again. “He was too choosey.”  But Monty Clift as a circus aerialist…!?   Don’t be silly, Burt! Yet Clift had talks with producer-star Burt Lancaster but was obviously wary of the gay sub-plot – of Lancaster’s Mike Ribble lusting after  his trapeze partner, Clift’s Orsini. All that vanished  when Curtis moved into the first of two memorable teamings with Lancaster. The second, of course,  was the impeccable  Sweet Smell of Success, 1956.
  29. Robert Taylor, The Last Hunt, 1955.    Director Richard Brooks wanted Clift and Gregory Peck and Clift and got stuck witha re-run of All The Brothers Were Valiant:  “Robert Taylor and the other fellow.”  What a year of refusals – l4 movies and five plays, before accepting The Seagull in New York at $100 a week, compared to $160,000 per film.
  30. Frank Sinatra, The Man With The Golden Arm, 1955.   John Garfield had the rights ro Nelson Algren’s book, but no Production Code sanction to present drug addiction on screen. Three years after Garfield’s early death, producer-director-ogre Otto Preminger battled the Code – for Marlon Brando, William Holden, Sinatra…. and as has often been suggested, Clift. Marlon’s agent was slow in passing him the script, Sinatra read quicker – most of it – and snapped it up. For $100,000 and 12.4% of any profits.

  31. Henry Fonda, War and Peace, 1955.  Arch rivals, Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift rejected Tolstoi’s hero, Pierre, in the lavish Hollywood  production.   Fond was ridiculous casting. He was 50; Pierre was, at the start of it all. 20. But no, no, he said   the flop had little to do with him.  “When I first agreed to do it, the screenplay by Irwin Shaw was fine, but what happened? [Director] King Vidor used to go home nights with his wife and rewrite it. All the genius of Tolstoi went out the window.”
  32. Don Murray, Bus Stop, 1956.  Yet again Monty and Marilyn  were nearly a duo.    But that (sadly)  didn’t happen until The Misfits, 1960, when Monty was in far from great shape.  They had “this same self-destructive temperament,” said their co-star Eli Wallach. “They were at a loss; they couldn’t cope. It’s easy to poke fun at those people – big stars – but it’s very sad.”  Elvis Presley was first choice for the dumbcluck cowpoke, Beauregard Decker – aka Bo – taking Monroe’s Cherie away from all this bar singing stuff.  Elvis & Marilyn – what a wet-dream combo!Except  “Colonel” Tom Parker didn’t want nobody takin’ the shine off his boy!  Despite (or because of) Marilyn being all Stanislavsky at the time, Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift weren’t interested. Marilyn only ever wanted Rock Hudson, more into sob schlock opposite Jane Wyman,  Fess Parker, aka Davy Crockett, led three tele-cowpokes also being seen: the others were John Smith, from Laramie, and the lanky Rowdy Yates on Rawhide, a certain Clint Eastwood.  Murray (the first star I interviewed at the first of my 26 Cannes festivals in 1961) won an Oscar nomination for his debut  and wed his other co-star, Hope Lange.
  33. Anthony Perkins, Friendly Persuasion, 1956.    Jimmy Dean was gone, but there was always a new Dean in the wings… and he did well as Gary Cooper’s son.
  34. Gregory Peck, The Man in the Gray Flnnel Suit, 1956.    Best-selling novelist  Sloan Wilson said Clift should pay his hero, Tom Rath. Who listens to… writers!
  35. Van Johnson, Miracle in the Rain, 1956.    His next agent, Herman Citron said: “He could’ve been the biggest movie star in the world – he was always considered before Brando.”  They would scream at each other over the phone.  “I will not do it, Herman. .It’s crap!”
  36. John Forsyth, The Trouble With Harry, 1956.    And Citron (also Hitchcock’s agent) would yell back:“Can’t you lower your standards for once?”
  37. Richard Basehart, Moby Dick, 1956.    Or raise them?  The offered role was the  narrator with the most famous opening line in literature.  “Call me Ishmael.”

  38. William Holden, The Bridge on the River Kwai, 1956.  
    Director David Lean and producer Sam Spiegel had a disastrous dinner with Clift at Danny’s Hideaway. They offered him William Holden’s accomplice, Lieutenant Joyce, with the promise of beefing up the role. “Monty was taking pills,” said Sam’s wife (and pinching her creme de menthe). “He was still vaguely coherent.  He’d answer with non-sequiturs like: the sky is blue.  Lean discreetly left.  Sam was soon yelling  “For Christ’s sake, Monty” as Clift fell, not into his cups, but into Betty Spiegel’s lap. “He could not move. It was as if he was numb.” Ben Gazarra and Cliff Robertson were  discussed before Betty suggested “little Geoffrey.”  Good choice… Horne saved Lean’s life the steakhouse when he was nearly swept way by a fast river in Sri Lanka.  

  39. Tyrone Power, The Sun Also Rises, 1956.  There are two main characters in Ernest Hemingway’s first novel. He wrote it in 1925.  They took forever to reach the screen. They are part of the post-WWI “lost generation.”  Jake Barnes is impotent. Lady Ashley  is  a nymphomaniac. Words, said Hollywood censors, “not proper for screen presentation.”  Ann Harding first won the rights in 1934 to co-star Leslie Howard. She sold out in 1944 to Constance Bennett, who quit before finding her Jake.  By 1949, the couple were Montgomery Clift- Margaret Sheridan. Dewey Martin was a ‘52 Jake. There followed Gregory Peck-Jennifer Jones, Robert Stack-Dana Wynter – ultimately Tyrone Power-Jennifer Jones – she split for another Papa Hemingway heroine, Catherine Barkley, A Farewell to Arms. Ava Gardner took over only to be replaced by  Susan Hayward (rivals in Papa’s Snows of Kilimanjaro, 1952) Hemingway insisted Ava was Brett  and no one  else.  And the offensive words? Producer Darry F Zanuck promised they would be un-uttered. He (half) lied.  Impotent was spoken, as a doctor explained his war wounds to Jake.  And Brett, well, she was no longer a nympho, just a lush.  Papa’s review? “It’s pretty disappointing and that’s being gracious.”
  40. Curt Jürgens, Bitter Victory, France, 1957.    Not interested in co-starring with his bete-noir, Richard Burton. “Jürgens was miscast,” admitted director Nicholas Ray. “He was always pretty self-conscious about being a German playing an Englishman… even though we tried to justify it, making him South African.”

  41. Audie Murphy, The Quiet American, 1957.     Monty and Larry – that’s who auteur supreme Joseph L Mankiewicz wanted for his Graham Green adaptation. He got them… later. Clift for Suddenly Last Summer, 1959, Olivier in Sleuth, 1972. Considering that Mankiewicz was in charge, this was a shockingly homogenised version of Graham Greene’s prophetic novel about Vietnam. Greene denounced the film, so, naturellement, Jean-Luc Godard praised it. Mankiewicz actually felt that Murphy was capable of delivering what Joe had wanted real actors like Clift and, before him, Bogart, to do. Impossible. (Philip Noyce’s 2001 re-tread was more true to the book).
  42. Paul Newman, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, 1957.  OK, Clift was a great chum of Taylor’s but in no shape to play her  ex-football player husband. After  all his surgery following his terrible 1956 car smash, poor Monty looked incapable of carrying a football, much less kicking or running with it!  MGM looked at everyone else: , Don Murray, William Shatner. Even the too old Robert Mitchum – and Elvis Presley, whose manager, Colonel Parker, was furious. “Mah boy ain’t no fruit!”  
  43. Jack Lemmon, Cowboy, 1957.  His first Columbia production, We Were Strangers, 1948, flopped which is why Sam Spiegel never made The Reminiscences of a Cowboy (from the Frank Harris novel) with, as planned, Clift and Walter Huston to be directed by his son, John – Sam’s partner in Horizon Pictures.
  44. Victor Mature, No Time To Die! (US: Tank Force), 1957.     Clift passed, so this became the fourth of six films Mature made for Warwick, co-run in London by a certain Cubby Broccoli. He’d made a habit of wooing Hollywood talent to prop up his exotic adventures and thrillers: Anita Ekberg, Rhonda Fleming (no kin to Ian), Rita Hayworth, Alan Ladd, Jack Lemmon, Ray Milland, Robert Mitchum, Robert Teylor, Richard Widmark.  
  45. Cliff Robertson, The Naked and The Dead, 1958.  All set as Charles  Laughton’s second directing gig except the flop of his now-classic  Night of the Hunter put him off helming for life. Hunter’s producer Paul Gregory secured Raoul Walsh in his place – and wanted Montgomery Clift or Anthony Perkins as Lieutenant Robert Hearn. The novel was based on the young Norman Mailer’s WWII experiences as a sergeant in the South Pacific.  Neither Hearn or Aldo Ray’s Sergeant Croft were based by Mailer, himself.  He maintained the character closest to him was Roth played by future Sinatra Clan comic Joey Bishop.
  46. Horst Buchholz, Auferstehung/Resurrection, Germany-Italy-France, 1958. French Myriam Bru was the star and instigator of this Tolstoi tale. When Buchholz was suggested as her Nechljudoff, she asked her producer to get Clift. He tried. No go, Within a few months in London, she became Mrs Buchholz.
  47. Gary Cooper, They Came To Cordura, 1958.       Monty wanted nothing to do with the cowardly US Army Major Thoms Thorn – deciding which 1916 soldiers would win the Congressional Medal of Honor. The film infuriated John Wayne. “The whole story makes a mockery of America’s highest award for valor. The whole premise of the story was wrong, illogical, because they don’t pick the type of men the movie picked to win the award, and that can be proved by the very history of the award.” He was also unhappy with the gay relationship between Cooper (twice the age of the real major) and Tab Hunter in this film, calling homosexuality a poison polluting Hollywood’s moral bloodstream. Such as in Clift’s Suddenly Last Summer – “too disgusting even for discussion.”
  48. .Dean Martin, Rio Bravo, 1958.     
  49. Kirk Douglas, The Devil’s Disciple, 1958. Hecht-Lancaster Productions officially announced Clift and Burt Lancaster as co-stars in 1956. However, directors had already sworn off Monty. “Because of booze and drugs,” said director Edward Dmytryk. “He was never nasty. He just fell apart.”

  50. Charlton Heston, Ben-Hur, 1958.  
    Sword and sandal epics were in.  And producer Sam Zimbalist, who’d made one of the biggest – Quo Vadis, 1950 –  was back in Rome in charge  of the better (well, William Wyler was directing) re-make of the 1923 silent Ben-Hur, racing chariots and all.  Sam even considered retaining his Vadis trio: Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner, Stewart Granger. Friendly rivals Marlon Brando and Paul Newman were up for the titular Judah.  Still smarting  from his  1954 debut,  The Silver  Chalice, Newman hated  ancient Rome costumes, or cocktail dresses as he termed them. Sam also short-listed  Richard Burton (from The Robe, 1953), Montgomery Clift, Tony Curtis, Rock Hudson (furious with Universal refusing to loan him out), Van Johnson (no, really!),  Burt Lancaster (an atheist with no interest in Christianity commercials,  although he had earlier tried to mount his  own version),  true Brit Edmond Purdom… plus Italians, known and unknown: Vittorio Gassman  and Cesare Danova.  MGM voted Heston, C B De Mille’s Moses in The Ten Commandments, 1954. According to “contributing writer” Gore Vidal, Willie Wyler called Heston wooden. Brando, for one, would not disagree.

  51. Burt Lancaster, Elmer Gantry, 1959.    Somewhat perversely, director Richard Brooks thought of Monty -or Jimmy Cagney – for the firey preacher man.
  52. Dean Stockwell, Sons and Lovers, 1960.  DH Lawrence – “adapted by [producer] Jerry Wald”!
  53. Glenn Ford, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, 1960.  No sure which would have been the most absurd casting for Julio Desnoyers – Dirk Bogarde, Montgomery Clift or Glenn Ford.  They were all too old – 49, 40 and 44 – when Julio’s sister was  Yvette Mimieux at… 18.  MGM then looked at the pretty boys – Alain Delon, 25and the German Delon, Horst Buchholz, 27, and George Hamilton, 21.   Brando, 36, also refused:  “Didn’t Valentino do that? I don’t dance the tango.” Or not until Bertolucci called … in 1972.
  54. Geoffrey Horne, Story of Joseph and His Brethern, Italy, 1960.     Written for Cary Grant and once promised to Tony Curtis.
  55. Richard Widmark, Judgment At Nuremberg, 1961.  Producer-director Stanley Kramer wanted Clift as Colonel Ted Lawson, prosecuting German judges for knowingly sending innocents to certain death in the Nazi concentration camps.  Knowing how much he could handle, Clift opted for the shorter role of  a surviving  Nazi victim.   In truth, Monty was in no shape for either role, although Kramer felt his fragility matched the Holocaust victim.  Fellow alcoholic co-star Spencer Tracy famously guided Clift through his seven-minute scene – over four days!  “Forget the lines, Monty – play it to me.  Eye to eye.”
  56. Peter O’Toole, Lawrence of Arabia, 1961.
  57. Dirk Bogarde, The Angel Wore Red, 1961.   Clift’s interest, until switching to Elia Kazan’s Wild River, was why Bogarde picked it up.  Director Nunnally Johnson did not view Dirk as any new Monty simply “customarily sober.”
  58. John Mills, The Singer Not The Song, 1961.    US director Roy Ward Baker’s dream team forthe Spanish priest and bandito: Clift (or Paul Scofield) and Marlon Brando. The UK Rank Organisation’s concern was to appease Dirk Bogarde into a new contract… with his campiest role. Unintentionally hilarious!
  59. Bobby Darin, Too Late Blues, 1961.     A studio promise is never a promise. Paramount told Stella Stevens her co-star would Clift… if she became one of Elvis Presley’s Girls! Girls! Girls! John Cassavetes couldn’t get his wife, Gena Rowlands, to play Jess Polanski but gave in to the Front Office compromise about his hero, the jazzman Ghost. Probably Paramount never even realised that Darin was already part of the Cassavetes clan; he appeared, un-credited (like Gena) in Shadows. “Bobby was a very fine actor,” said Stevens, “but as you can imagine, he was no Montgomery Clift.”
  60. Jason Robards, Tender Is The Night, 1961.    Producer David Selznick first tried to film F Scott Fitzgerald’s last completed novel  at RKO in 1951,  with his wife, Jennifer Jones and Cary Grant –  who disapproved of  Dr Dick Diver, the shrink falling for his patient.  George Cukor decided on Elizabeth Taylor and Glenn Ford (!), John Frankenheimer voted for Warren Beatty or  Christopher Plummer. Veteran toughie Henry King helming Jones with a miscast Robards was a fiasco.  Other potential Dicks over the years had been Montgomery Clift, Paul Newman and true Brits Dirk Bogarde and Richard Burton.   Hmm, Burton and Taylor – now that would  have worked.

  61. Charles Bronson,The Sandpiper, 1965.   Concerned about his sagging health and career, his Bessie Mae always had a (Liz) Taylor-made part for him in her every film.
  62. Robert Redford, The Chase, 1965.    A decade before producer Sam Spiegel star-smothered  it to death,  Gary Cooper bought the rights to Horton Foote’s soap-opera-esque thriller.  For him as the sheriff (close enough to be kin of  his High Noon lawman) hunting Clift’s escaped con… Brando played the sheriff – beaten up, of course, and worse than in On The Waterfront or Two Eyed Jacks. He didn’t come cheap:  $750,000, plus $130,000 for his Pennebaker company and… a role for his older sister, Jocelyn.
  63. Robert Redford, This Property Is Condemned, 1966.     Old pals Elizabeth Traylor and Monty Clift became Natalie Wood and, at her inviation, Redford. He felt the script was a “mish-mash” with everyone’s dabs on it.  But he never forgot Natalie’s kindness in pushing for him to make Inside Daisy Clover with her the year before.
  64. Horst Buchholz, Marco The Magnificent, 1966.   Clift was asked to replace Alain Delon as Marco Polo, when the original shoot fell into money hassles. Monty made e his final film for the same Paris producer, Raoul Levy.
  65. Oskar Werner, Fahrenheit 451, 1966.  Movies? By the time the the French nouvelle vague icon François Truffaut called, Clift was in no shape to make coffee… For his first film in colour – his only one in English – Truffaut wanted the star of his second feature to be Montag: Charles Aznavour. Yet he also contacted Jean-Paul Belmondo, Marlon Brando, Peter O’Toole. Paul Newman was ready to burn books in 962, until a parting of minds in ’64. The réalisateur then signed Terence Stamp, before making the mistake of his life and giving the fireman to Werner, originally booked as Montag’s boss. Any of the others asleep would have been better! The Austrian’s head had been turned by Hollywood since his and Truffaut’s Jules et Jim triumph. Werner argued constantly over (his dull) interpretation, refused one “dangerous” scene (as if a fireman would not have to deal with fire) and even cut his hair to ruin continuity. If not for the six years of planning, Truffaut would have walked. Instead, he simply truncated Werner’s later scenes – and used a double, John Ketteringham, in most of them!
  66. Jean Blaise, Le grand meaulnes/The Wanderer, France, 1967.   Rejected a decade earlier….  ActorKevin McCarthy said of Clift’s condition:  “It was like the collapse of a great building – in slow-motion.”

  67. Marlon Brando, Reflections In A Golden Eye, 1967. 
    Brando had been first choice for UK director Tony Richardson’s plan (with Jeanne Moreau) in the early 50s. But now Brando was sixth… after Montgomery Clift, William Holden, Lee Marvin, Robert Mitchum, Patrick O’Neal. Or. in fact, seventh, as another Brit,  Michael Anderson, wanted Burt Lancaster in 1956 as the same Major Weldon Penderton, the sexual mess, married but fancying the pants off Private Williams  (when he had them on).  Out of work for four years or so, Clift was uninsurable. “Bessie Mae” (Elizabeth Taylor) put up the $1m bond money for a 60s version, with Burton directing and playing Lieutenant-Colonel Langdon.  But no one, including Clift, felt he could act anymore. Even after their Freud fights, Liz and  Brando felt working again with John Huston was the cure-all Clift needed.  “If John can stand it, I can.” Production manager Doc Erickson saw Clift in London after proving himself  by  finishing The Defector on time and on budget. “You must be  a glutton  for  punishment,”  said  Doc.  “It’ll  be all right,”  said Clift –  dead six weeks later from a heart attack in New York,  less than a month before shooting began on  July 22, 1966... Huston then asked Brando. It took a long, reflective walk (in a thunderstorm!) before Marlon agreed – for $750,00 and 10% of any profits.  UK director Michael Anderson had planned a 1965 version with Burt Lancaster. Tony Richardson had wanted to make it  with Brando and Jeanne Moreau. After what Brando termed a run of “no-talent asshole” directors such as Chaplin (oh yes!), Sidney J Furie and the German Bernhard Wickie. Brando was superb. Well, he enjoyed Huston. “He leaves you alone pretty good.”

  68. Burt Lancaster, The Swimmer, 1967.    .   Hard to believe that such a physical  role –  John Cheever’s tale of a man swimming his way home  through people’s  pools in  Connecticut –  ever came his way.   The film was made nine years after Burt took Elmer Gantry from him….  Lancaster called it: “Death of a Salesman in swimming trunks.” (Seventeen pairs, his only wardrobe for the film). He  went into serious  training to match his old nickname, The Build, for novelist John Cheever’s tragic hero, who suddenly decides to swim home via the pools of his Connecticut friends and neighbours.  Burt was no great swimmer but producer Sam Spiegel praised his “perception and courage and… intense interest in films that go beyond the obvious and ordinary.”  Hah, said Burt. “The whole film was a disaster,” he told  Take 22 magazine.  “Sam personally promised me, to be there every single weekend to go over the film, because we had certain basic problems – the casting and so forth. He never showed up one time. I could have killed him, I was so angry with him. And finally Columbia pulled the plug on us. But we needed another day of shooting so I paid $10,000  for it.” Montgomery Clift (!), Glenn Ford, William Holden, Paul Newman and George C Scott had all been in the swim for what became Spam’s fourth consecutive flop. Minus David Lean, Spiegel was  a zero
  69. Alan Arkin, The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter,1968.   Carson McCullers’ first novel  about a deaf mute – cruelly called Singer – was perfect for an Austrian-accented Oskar Werner.  (No dialogue). However, he was trying to produce and direct himself in his own perfect project – Robert Nathan’s book, So Love Returns.  (It never happened). Directors changed as frequently as actors. Jose Quintero/Montgomery Clift (going slightly deaf at the time), Sidney Lumet/Warren Beatty, Joseph Strick/George Peppard  – but his  agent suggested the saintly Singer might be homosexual.” Robert Ellis Miller’s version marked the debuts of Stacy Keach and Sondra Locke – winning a support Oscar nomination at age 17, when she was really 24. She continued de-ageing throughout her career.
  70. Michael Sarrazin, They Shoot Horses Don’t They, 1969.     Monty and Briigitte Bardot was French realisateur Jean-PierreMocky’s 60s plan until beaten to the rights by director Sydney Pollack.  Charlie Chaplin, Joseph Losey and François Truffaut had also tried to film Horace McCoy’s book during ts 35 year long journey to the screen.
  71. George Segal, The Owl and The Pussycat, 1970.  Another Liz Taylor  idea when trying to resurrect Monty’s career.  Producer Ray Stark wanted Clift to put up his New York brownstone as collateral.  Lizwould not let him.

  72. Dennis Hopper, The Last Movie, 1969.  
    Or: The Last Movie or Boo Hoo in Tinseltown! Based on Hopper’s experiences while shooting The Sons of Katie Elder in Mexico (when indigenous natives re-enacted the movie-making), the film won the Critics’ Prize at Venice but The Last Movie was damn nearly The Last Hopper. Well, he shot it in Peru – coke capital of the world!  He’d got Stewart Stern, a pal since scripting Rebel Without A Cause,  to write it. They argued, split, but always wanted to work together again. ”He fascinated me,” said Stern, “because he had ideas before anybody else did.” But their stoned, 98 page treatment interested no one. And Hopper refused to risk record producer Phil Spector’s offer of $1.2m to film the new, 119-page script. Hopper just bided his time… He always intended Kansas, his “stunt  man in a lousy Western,” for Monty Clift – but he died in 1966. The role needed an older player. Finally, at 34, Hopper explained: “It was easier doing it myself than explain to another actor what I wanted.” He had tested various hopefuls and considered two of John Ford’s family: John Wayne and Ben Johnson, talked to Jack Nicholson, Jason Robards and… Willie Nelson! My God, Dennis and Willie shooting in Peruthey’d still be there!  Buried, probably.

  73. Martin Sheen, TheExecution of Private Slovik, 1974.   Frank Sinatra’s aborted attempt to tell the story of the only US solider executed for desertion (in 1945) since the Civil War – became an excellent tele-film.
  74. Liam Neeson, Ethan Frome, 1992. Edith Wharton’s book was offered to Clift in the 60s.






















 Birth year: 1920Death year: 1966Other name: Casting Calls:  74