Tuesday, September 03, 2013

A Few Words From the Other Side

Robert Montgomery was not loved by all who knew him.  If you consider that he obtained great success in the movies as well as TV, took what has become a very unpopular stand in the 1947 McCarthy hearings and gave much effort and dedication to the, egads, Republican party...well, you can imagine the number of his detractors in La-La Land.  

A TV line producer, who knew Robert in the 1950s, considered him a "cool, aloof and arrogant man."  Bette Davis shared her feelings toward him on numerous occasions.  My favorite Davis quote:  "He was overbearing, pompous and ridiculously right wing."  Hollywood author Scott Eyman writes in his book on early Hollywood, The Speed of Sound:  "Crawford's co-star was a polished new contract player named Robert Montgomery, on his way to a respectable career and an off-screen reputation as one of the chilliest most pompous actors ever to find his way to Hollywood."  (That's one book not on my list of must-haves!)

Whitney Stine in 50 Years of Photographing Hollywood: The Hurrell Style, provides a brief write-up of George Hurrell's working relationship with Robert:  "He was rather cold and uncommunicative on the lot, but he was also overworked, having made eight pictures in 1930 alone.  In the gallery, he reacted very little to Hurrell's shenanigans and appeared indifferent to music of any kind.  He remained stoic even when a wild foxtrot blared forth from the phonograph.  Still, Hurrell was able to take interesting shots by paying more attention to the lighting than to Montgomery's expression.  Although unsmiling and bored, a sly, whimsical quality often came through. Twenty years later, when he was producing Robert Montgomery Presents, Hurrell telephoned on one pretext or another and found him still the frosty, aloof man whom he remembered so well."

And lastly, Mark Viera, in his book Irving Thalberg:  Boy Wonder to Producer Prince, provides a recounting of the meeting of Robert and Scott Fitzgerald at a fancy party given by the Thalbergs:  "When Robert Montgomery arrived from a polo match still dressed in a riding outfit and asked Taylor (an MGM writer) for an introduction, he could not find Fitzgerald.  Then Fitzgerald suddenly reappeared, gin martini in hand.  Taylor made introductions, but Fitzgerald stared at Montgomery and asked dully, "Why didn't you bring your horse in too?"  Montgomery was not amused.  He turned on his heel and walked off."

Robert Montgomery was not a perfect man, nor are any of us.  He was a highly intelligent, witty man who developed from a shallow beautiful youth highly successful in the movies to a Renaissance man who pursued several vocations, dutifully served his home and country and in the end achieved his early stated life's goal to become a country gentleman of merit.  Now that is a man to admire.  The kind of man so lacking in today's society.  More's the pity. 


Debbie said...

We agree again! Also,like most very private people, he may have been greatly misunderstood by the casual acquaintance.

Kathy said...

It's just that we're both overwhelmed by that smile...

Yes, a private man, very reserved as he grew older. Very intelligent, did not suffer fools. And rich people are simply different than us folks! A lot of walls, there. Difficult for most people to fully understand the man and the man by nature could or chose not to tear down the walls. A lot of guessing, of course. A complex man indeed.