Study Guide

The Artist Clifton (James Cromwell)

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Clifton (James Cromwell)

Clifton's the strong, silent type…and not just because he's acting in a (mostly) silent film. Clifton would probably be insulted if we compared him to a dog, but, like Jack, he's extremely loyal (and we think that's a compliment).

He does more than just drive George around. He keeps him out of the doghouse again and again:

GEORGE: Clifton, go to the jewelry store. Get something nice for my wife. To make it up to her.

And George's wish is Clifton's command.

Through Thick and Thin

Clifton sticks with George even when he hasn't been paid in over a year. (Whoa. Aren't there chauffeur unions?) And when George does finally let him go, he waits outside by his car all night to see if he'll change his mind.

Like a guardian angel—or a stalker?—Clifton's always just five steps behind George, and he's there when George is in trouble: he shows up at the bar when George passes out drunk and carries his employer home to bed.

Peppy knows how important Clifton is to George, and when George can no longer afford to employ him, she hires him to drive for her. This is one of those gestures that, though well-meaning, George interprets as invasive and overbearing.

But Clifton is aware of how stubborn George can be. He knows it better than anyone. He's the true voice of reason when George refuses the script Peppy proposes for him:

CLIFTON: Beware of your pride, if I may say so sir. Miss Miller is a good person, Believe me.

Well put, Clifton. You don't talk much, but when you do, you say the right things.

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