Montgomery Clift, once known as the most beautiful man in Hollywood, was one of the most compelling screen presences of the 1950s; but, as with his eccentric contemporary Marlon Brando, reading about the troubled actor’s life does little to elevate him in the view of this erstwhile admirer.
A disturbing feature of Clift’s fragmented personality was his increasing identification with Jews as his mental condition deteriorated. A tortured bisexual and societal outsider, the star of The Heiress (1949), A Place in the Sun (1951), and Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) was a natural proxy recruit for Jewish cultural engineering and politics.
Living with an army engineer unit in Switzerland while preparing for his role in Fred Zinnemann’s The Search (1948), Clift was invited to attend a screening of concentration camp footage purporting to document “masses of Jews being led to the gas chambers.” The actor was so affected by…
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