The Danish designer on why he likes actor Montgomery Clift in Judgment at Nuremberg, a 1961 drama about the Holocaust trials
First of all I have to say that Clift was one of the most beautiful male actors who’s ever worked on the silver screen. That could mean that nothing else is going on, but in Montgomery Clift’s case, that’s not true.
I love him in Judgment at Nuremberg, playing Rudolph Petersen.
I love the suit he wears and the headphones are really chic. But most of all I love his eyebrows: they’re very masculine and they frame his eyes in the most perfect way. If I was an actor this would be the part that I would most have liked to play, but in the body of Montgomery Clift.
The way that he is dressed in that one scene that he has in the film underlined everything that is good and bad about the creator, Rudolph Petersen. I can’t remember when I first saw the film, but I do remember that the reason that I wanted to see it was because I had seen Clift in the 1951 film A Place In The Sun and that I – as I still do – thought that he was perfect. The other reason that I wanted to see Judgement was because it is filled with really great actors like Judy Garland, Malene Dietrich, Maximilian Schell. When filming the 15-minute supporting role as a mentally handicapped victim of the Holocaust in Judgement at Nuremberg, Clift had to ad-lib all his lines. That’s how good he was, enough to earn him a “Best Supporting Actor” nomination at the Oscars. I don’t think that I need to explain very much about the film as the title says it all: Judgment at Nuremberg.
I watched it again not that long ago and I still got the biggest thrill when I saw Montgomery Clift, so who cares about anything else! I don’t! I saw a comment on his performance saying it “was hard to watch Clift give that testimony. It was like seeing a puppy getting kicked”, and I agree. I wish that we had clever actors like him now – Johnny Depp is perhaps the closest we get.
Click to watch the original trailer for the 1961 classic, directed by Stanley Kramer