A superb and highly recommended bit of non-fiction writing that’s currently circulating amongst screenwriter types is “Montague the Magnificent,” by noted sports journalist Leigh Montville for Smithsonian magazine. We don’t do this often at Slashfilm but: Hey, Guy in Hollywood looking for a great movie premise, here you go. In the 1930s, a man calling himself John Montague (right) touched down in Hollywood and quickly swooned the showbiz elite with his debonair poise, elusive wealth, penchant for whisky and stunts of uber-strength, and a stunning golfing ability that soon convinced followers of the sport nationwide that a complete unknown could very well be the best in the world. In fact, his talent is still debated, especially after too many shots.
In a town mastered in smoke and mirrors, Montague’s feats—-like beating Bing Crosby on the greens using a baseball bat, a shovel and a rake instead of clubs, and knocking birds on a wire dead with golf balls—-became championed tales shared by men and friends like Humphrey Bogart. When professional golfers and sportswriters finally put the pressure on the ever camera-shy Montague to compete in professional competition and end the deafening buzz, he was soon ousted as something else entirely. Of course, this just made the town more interested in him, or at least his legend. The article—-I’ve revealed nothing, really—-is basically a condensed version of Montville’s newly released book, The Mysterious Montague, and it’s worth a read if you enjoy superlative American do’ers, Hollywood history and t-total bullshitting with your friends. Movies about golf are usually ghey, sure, but this ain’t Bagger Vance blah blah. There’s a sharp edge and social undercurrent to this story that is very alluring and timely. As for who would play this wily (and stocky) SOB in a movie, it’s hard to say. Everyone seems too pretty. Maybe Ed Norton after 30 steaks? A slightly squashed Christian Bale?
Discuss: Any hypothetical casting suggestions based on the pic above and the article? Anyone read the book?