Thursday, 24 October 2013

“INDISCRETION OF AN AMERICAN WIFE” WITH MONTGOMERY CLIFT





Whenever I’m asked to recall the exact moment I knew I was gay, I always respond this: the minute I saw Montgomery Clift’s chiseled face on screen in A PLACE IN THE SUN. I was around 10 but I still remember vividly how breathless I suddenly became at the mere sight of him. Mind you, it would take me another five years to actually cement my love for d… men—but I will always regard that particular film as the pivotal point of my own sexual revolution. Fast-forward 30 some years and, wouldn’t you know, that damn Monty still does it for me, but it’s in INDISCRETION OF AN AMERICAN WIFE this time, the 1953 melodrama that so wants to pass as high art.
 


 

The fun begins when Clift catches up with bad-movie queen Jennifer Jones (RUBY GENTRY, DUEL IN THE SUN…), at an Italian train station. She wants to go back to the States but he won’t let her. He’s too much in love. And despite gawking at her and she at him in tight close ups to an overbearing syrupy score, Jones won’t have it. She’s a (unhappy) married woman with child, you see, out alone in Europe on a fling, and she just can’t commit. Monty insists, promising a true peasant lifestyle with boat rides and little spouse beatings (‘cause he’s half Italian). And she almost agrees to that but changes her mind. Distraught, he runs off, but not before giving her a dose of the life she leaves behind: a heavy slap on the face.

 
Hurt and embarrassed, she tries to move on, but like any true Hollywood heroine of that era (of any era, for that matter), she is unable to do so. Later on when she almost loses Monty to a moving train as he crosses rails to get to her, she realizes just how much she digs him. Unable to keep their hands to themselves any longer, they hide in what looks like an abandoned train and make whoopie (off screen)—until, gasp, they get caught red-handed by security. Apprehended, they literally walk the hall of shame to the in-house police station while people snicker and jeer. Why not put a big scarlet A on their breast pockets while at it? But since it’s a ‘50s film and set in a foreign country, we’ll let it go. It all comes down to Monty and Jones pleading their case to a hard-headed police commissioner before getting released free of charge. Does Jones leave Monty in the end? You betcha. You really didn’t think they would end up happily ever after did you? They had committed one of the biggest sins, people. They had to pay somehow. Just like we did, sitting through this lovable wreck of a film.
 

INDISCRETION OF AN AMERICAN WIFE was helmed by hit maker Vittorio De Sica (who later on directed YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW which won him an Oscar). The dialogue was adapted by Truman Capote, Jackie Susann’s nemesis (he once called her a truck driver in drag, the little twerp). It’s also interesting to note that while Christian Dior is attached to the production as Jones’ costume designer, only one creation of his is shown throughout the film. And hunky Monty says it best when he disdainfully removes part of it: "It’s a smug little hat". I knew I could count on you Monty. I just knew it.



 
 
 
Until next post—Martin

 


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