The Smackdown may have ended but here's one last 1948 piece from abstew on TFE's favorite classic dramatic actor to close out the year of the month. - Editor
Before there was Brando and James Dean there was Montgomery Clift. And while those actors are often credited for bringing a new type of leading man to the big screen, through a mix of masculine machismo with feminine vulnerability, without Clift paving the way, the future of acting might have looked far different. The country was just emerging from the hardships of WWII. After seeing the travesties of war firsthand, they were ready for something more realistic and Clift was the answer to the change they were seeking. Having worked as a stage actor for over 10 years (where he made his Broadway debut at age 15 in the Pulitzer Prize-winning There Shall Be No Night), Clift was a serious actor that had honed his craft and emerged fully-formed in Hollywood with his first two films, both released in 1948, the western Red River and the post-war drama The Search.
Having caught Clift in a production of the Tennessee Williams play You Touched Me!, director Howard Hawks convinced the young actor to bring his unique set of skills to his western. John Wayne, an actor so synonymous with the genre that he was practically its patron saint, was already headlining and Hawks felt that Clift, who didn't even know how to ride a horse, would bring a different energy and dynamic to the stoic western figure. Wayne needed some convincing and laughed at the thought of the slender Clift being able to hold his own in the film's final throw down confrontation against him. But Clift, ever the professional, worked tirelessly to master the demands of the role and gives a performance that pays homage to cowboys past but is entirely its own creation. [More...]