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Montgomery Clift, Queer Star

Elisabetta Girelli

Publication Year: 2013

Strikingly beautiful and exceptionally talented, Montgomery Clift was at the peak of his fame in 1956 when a devastating car crash nearly destroyed his face. While this traumatic event robbed him of his heartthrob status and turned him into a somewhat disturbing, socially alienated character, author Elisabetta Girelli argues that Clift had always combined on-screen erotic ambiguity with real-life sexual nonconformity. In Montgomery Clift, Queer Star she maps the development of Clift's subversive image over the span of his entire career, approaching Clift as a queer signifier who defied normative cultural structures. From the sexually ambivalent "beautiful boy" of his early films, to the seemingly asexual, transgressive, and often distressed man of his last years, Girelli argues that Clift shows remarkable consistency as a star: his presence always challenges established notions of virility, sexuality, and bodily "normality." Girelli's groundbreaking analysis uses queer theory to assess Clift's disruptive legacy, engaging with key critical concepts such as the closet, performativity, queer shame, crip theory, and queer temporality. She balances theoretical frameworks with extensive close readings of his performances and a consideration of how Clift's personal life, and public perceptions of it, informed his overall image as a deviant star and man. Montgomery Clift, Queer Star offers a comprehensive critical assessment of Clift through classic texts of queer criticism, as well as new interventions in the field. Scholars of gender and film, performance studies, queer and sexuality studies, and masculinity studies will appreciate this compelling study.

Published by: Wayne State University Press

Series: Contemporary Approaches to Film and Media Series

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-8


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

A great number of people helped, supported, and inspired me while writing this book, and my debt to them is incalculable. First among all is Will Brown, who on a now-distant bus journey, from Leuchars Station to St. Andrews, suggested I should work on Montgomery Clift: I?ll be grateful to him for the rest of my life. Many other friends and ...

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pp. 1-10

...ual. Labeling is so self-limiting. We are what we do, not what we say we are.?1 Montgomery Clift challenged prescribed models of identity throughout his life and career; his legacy as a fi lm star stands out as a continuous, creative act of transgression, defying the cultural domi-nancy of sexual and gender ?normality.? Clift is a major fi gure in post-...

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1. Montgomery Clift and Queer Theory

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pp. 11-32

...valid and enlightening arguments; at the same time, it appears limited in scope, and often shortsighted in its analysis. Clift?s subversive func-tion was vastly more complex and spanned a much longer period of his career than is usually acknowledged. Critical analyses of his star per-sona and performances have been inadequate on three major points. ...

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2. Irruption in Hollywood: The Beautiful Boy

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pp. 33-76

... More than any other fi lm starring Montgomery Clift, Red River has attracted retrospective critical attention. Casting the twenty-six-year-old Clift against an especially brutish John Wayne, this epic west-ern depicts a classic yet deceptively simple tale of masculine struggle. Red River has been hailed as a key intervention in screen representations ...

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3. The Peak of Stardom: Desire, Multiplicity, Deviancy

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pp. 77-120

...fame. Worshipped by fans, hailed as one of Hollywood?s hottest prop-erties, and Oscar nominated twice, Clift starred in three high-profi le fi lms; while these roles further consolidated his image, they did so by crystallizing his essential multiplicity. A reluctant murderer in A Place in the Sun, a priest oppressed by secrets in I Confess, a tough yet vulner-...

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4. The 1956 Car Accident and a New Queerness

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pp. 121-174

...between 1953 and 1956; while shunning Hollywood, he chose instead to return to Broadway in 1954, producing and starring in a controver-sial version of Chekhov?s The Seagull. The fi lm that fi nally brought him back to the big screen was Raintree County, a sweeping Civil War drama in which he played the protagonist, John Shawnessy. The reasons why ...

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5. The Final Period: “Abnormality,” Asexuality, Asynchrony

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pp. 175-220

...gomery Clift) and Carol (Lee Remick) lying on the muddy ground af-ter a gang of thugs has assaulted them. Chuck has proved no match for the mob of hostile men and has been hopelessly beaten up; Carol, however, has aggressively and fearlessly attacked their enemies and has been fi nally knocked down. After a pause in which the two look uncer-...

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pp. 221-224

...through the bleakest phase of his life. An outcast in Hollywood, where a growing reputation for mental instability sealed his uninsurable sta-tus, Clift was now unable to work as an actor. Although he recorded Tennessee Williams?s The Glass Menagerie for Caedmon Records, in 1964, and narrated a television documentary on William Faulkner in ...


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pp. 225-236


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pp. 237-238


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pp. 239-242


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pp. 243-248

E-ISBN-13: 9780814339244
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814335147

Page Count: 296
Illustrations: 20
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Contemporary Approaches to Film and Media Series