In another fascinating installment of Hollywood comes to Huntington, acclaimed author, actress and editor Patricia Bosworth will be on hand at the Cinema Arts Centre on March 15 for a special big screening of the 1951 critically acclaimed masterpiece, A Place in the Sun.
The classic stars 18-year-old Elizabeth Taylor and Bosworth’s pal, Montgomery Clift, who was at the top of his game at age 29. Bosworth will be hosting the event in conjunction with the release of her new memoir, The Men in My Life, which just came out.
Bosworth’s father, Bartley Crum, a well-known lawyer who’d defended “The Hollywood Ten” after they were blacklisted in the McCarthy era, had introduced her to Clift while she was still a teenager.
“We’re thrilled to have Patricia Bosworth come to Cinema Arts Centre and put a marvelous film like A Place in the Sun into historical context, as well as the life of her friend, Montgomery Clift,” said Raj Tawney, director of publicity and promotions at CAC. “Bosworth has had a life of ups and downs like all of us, and she’s someone who has pursued her dreams with realistic results. It wasn’t all glamorous, but through her journey, she became one of the top Hollywood biographers. We’re looking forward to having Miss Bosworth share her life stories which are detailed in her new book.”
Tawney credits this unique evening to Jud Newborn, Cinema Arts Centre’s curator of special programs, who will be hosting the event.
“For year and years, Dr. Jud Newborn has brought Hollywood to Huntington,” said Tawney. “The list of guests is so long and legendary, an outsider would think they’re living on the wrong coast.”
Newborn said that he and Bosworth chose the 1951 movie because she not only knew the troubled star but she wrote his definitive biography, which became one of her biggest bestsellers.
“But there’s more,” Newborn told the Press, “because the film introduces the coming decade of repression and stultifying conformity which Bosworth covers in her acclaimed new memoir—along with the tremendous burst of wild creativity (and wild living) which that atmosphere unleashed. This was especially the case in Manhattan at the elite Actors Studio, where Patricia studied with such friends as Marlon Brando and Jane Fonda.”
She later wrote biographies about them, too.
“Clift—like Patricia’s beloved younger brother, whom she lost to suicide—was a closeted homosexual, tortured by the toxic climate of the era,” notes Newborn, “while other friends like Fonda shared Patricia’s struggle to burst free from the suffocating role women were supposed to conform to. A world where men dominated them and pressured them for sex, then punished them for some of the inevitable consequences, like the shame of having to endure abortions, which were illegal, humiliating and often botched procedures.”
Before she became an accomplished writer—she’s been a freelancer for the New York Times, a managing editor of Harper’s Bazaar and contributing editor for Vanity Fair—Bosworth acted with Helen Hayes, Audrey Hepburn and Paul Muni, and was directed by Arthur Penn and Elia Kazan.
“Patricia flourished,” said Newborn, “all the time fighting a secret numbness that she’s only now overcome, and brilliantly, in her liberating new memoir that reveals a life as dramatic as those of her most famous biographical subjects.”
Directed by the legendary George Stevens, A Place in the Sun paired Elizabeth Taylor in her first adult role with Montgomery Clift and Shelley Winters in a griping, class-conscious tragic romance, based on Theodore Dreiser’s 1925 best-selling novel, An American Tragedy. This 1951 film, set in upstate New York, is actually a remake of Josef von Sternberg’s 1931 more somber version, which had kept the original title.
Nominated for nine Oscars (including Clift for Best Actor and Winters for Best Actress), this Hollywood classic won six: Best Director for Stevens, Best Screenplay for Michael Wilson and Harry Brown, Best Black/White Cinematography for William Mellor, Best B/W Costume Design for Edith Head, as well as Best Dramatic Score and Best Editing. It lost the Best Picture nod to An American in Paris.
The on-screen chemistry between Taylor and Cliff apparently worked for Hollywood, which later paired them in 1957’s Raintree County. At the time, Taylor had just finished making a movie with another closeted gay actor, Rock Hudson, in Giant.
In 1956, Clift left a dinner party at Taylor’s Beverly Hills house (her marriage to Michael Wilding was on the rocks), drove down the windy road and had a near-fatal car crash, his famous face a bloody pulp. Taylor came to his rescue and kept him alive before the ambulance could arrive. When it did, it was accompanied by a pack of Hollywood photographers, but she reportedly threatened them that if they took one photo of the disfigured actor, she’d never let them photograph her again. They relented.
Interestingly, Clift later starred with Marilyn Monroe in the 1961 film, The Misfits. Monroe said he was “the only person I know who is in worse shape than I am.” In 1966, Clift died in his Manhattan apartment, reportedly watching The Misfits on TV. He was 45. Monroe had died three years before in her L.A. home, reportedly an overdose. She was 36.
Bosworth knew them all. But tragedy had hounded her, too. Both her father and her brother committed suicide. She named her memoir to honor them.
This special evening begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 15, at Cinema Arts Centere, 423 Park Ave., Huntington. The event includes a dessert and Prosecco reception featuring local jazz guitarist Mike Soloway. Tickets are $20 for CAC members, $25 for nonmembers. As a bonus, you get a 20 percent off when you buy a copy of Bosworth’s memoir. For information, call 631-423-7611 or visit www.cinemaartscentre.org.
Featured Photo: Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor, starring in A Place in the Sun, photo courtesy Cinema Arts Centre.