Haunted by the Ghost of Montgomery Clift

Craig Chester and I are spiritual twins. I have never met the man and likely never will and I also have very little in common with him. Chester is openly gay and underwent extensive reconstructive surgery in order to deal with his childhood diagnosis of Long Face Syndrome. What I do have in common with Craig Chester is that we both seem to be haunted by the ghost of Montgomery Clift.

Montgomery Clift is more than just my favorite actor of all time although I cannot adequately explain the extent of his influence on my life. Chester is haunted in a much more literal sense.

Craig Chester claims Montgomery Clift has actually been haunting him in the sense of speaking to him through psychic mediums. The connection between Chester and Clift has led Craig to seek a way to make a film about Montgomery Clift. That a great movie has not been made about this great talent is one of the weirder aspect of the genre of the biopic.

I am not very familiar with Craig Chester and don’t know if he is the guy to bring Monty’s story to the screen. I know that Montgomery Clift was much more than a gay or bisexual actor, but I also recognize that his torturous route to an earlier death may have had much to do with feelings of ambivalence over his conflicted sexuality. So many a gay actor is just the guy to do justice to Monty’s story.

Or maybe Chester would be too tempted to turn what is really a much more universal story of a tortured psyche into a more simplistic story of being gay in 1950’s Hollywood. One thing I do know is that I cannot think of a single famous actor in Hollywood today who I think would be capable of doing justice to the role. A few attempts have been made to portray Montgomery Clift as a supporting role in stories about Liz Taylor and Marilyn Monroe. None of those actors were capable of making the electrical physical impression of the real thing and certainly none penetrated into the elusive psychology of Clift’s bizarre mind. A mind capable of creating performances like Prewitt in “From Here to Eternity” and George in “A Place of the Sun” and then turn around and acting downright schizophrenic.

A biographic portrait of Montgomery Clift that does justice to his talent and his mad sort of genius would by definition stand alongside such premier examples of the genre as “Raging Bull.” If Montgomery Clift really is haunting Craig Chester in a more concrete way than he has haunted me most of my life, then I think there is a good chance we could see just that very kind of film.