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This once nearly forgotten movie, the last film of Clark Gable and Marilyn
Monroe is now coming forward in the lexicon of film history as an underrated
gem. Universally misunderstood for the most part at the time it came out it
is clear now that this film was at least five of six years ahead of it's
time. It fits in more comfortably with films of the late 60's and early
The screenplay by Miller is one of his most striking works. A story of a
group of people lost in the wide expanse of the West in search of the
discarded souls of their misspent lives. The film's beautiful cinematography
by Russell Metty stands out as superb artistry at the demise of the black
and white era. It shimmers with the silver of the deep expanse of the desert
and the flat grays and blacks of the distant mountains upon which the last
act of the story plays. The music by Alex North is among his best work and
gives a savage punch to the aerial scenes and the round up at the end of the
Montgomery Clift, by now sliding into the last years of his life is
touching in his performance of Perce. His broken cowboy with the broken
heart is almost painful to watch. His phone call home to his mother is among
some of his best work. Eli Wallach gives a strong deeply moving portrait of
Guido who has lost his wife, his way, and his humanity. He shines in his
scene with Monroe where he asks her to save him. When she can't to at least
say `Hello Guido'.
Thelma Ritter is, well, Thelma Ritter in yet another of her excellent
character roles. Ritter is the master of the one line wisecrack but here as
Isobel she laces the cracks with an underlying sadness and vulnerability.
As Gay Langland, Clark Gable gives what I consider to be the best performance of his career. It was a brave move for Gable to take on the role of what on the surface seems another one of his typical macho made to fit parts. But as the story unfolds from Arthur Miller's pen Gay reveals that beneath his gruff, not a care in the world, cowboy is a man in deep pain and despair at his losses. The world has left him behind. Abandoned by his children the drunken Gable breaks so violently it is a shock to watch the great man fall. This is Clark Gable at his finest ever.
Marilyn Monroe gives an astounding performance as Roslyn Tabler the newly divorced dancer. A damaged woman who finds in the company of these three men something to finally believe in, something to stand up and fight for, she finds life. It is a performance ground out in part from her own person and experience and in part by the director John Huston and the editor George Tomasini who helped a nearly destroyed Monroe create her stunning Roslyn. This, her last performance is her best and the true example of the collaborative creation that film really is. That Marilyn under the circumstances of her life at that time could be so good is a testament to her talent as an actress and a star. Watch her when she is listening to the other actors. This is where she shines; this is the true mark of a great screen actor. To be able to listen and draw you into the inner life of the character through that deceptively simple act of listening and reaction is her gift to the audience. Her scene with Monty in back of the bar, sitting on a pile of trash, her afore mentioned scene with Eli Wallach in the speeding car. These are but a few of the examples in this film of her great talent. In the 1950's and early 60's there were only a handful of great young actresses in film, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marilyn Monroe where at the summit of the small mountain.
THE MISFITS is a delicate gem of a film, poetic and harsh and as cold
as those western stars on the horizon that Gable and Monroe drive
toward at film's end. The title refers to the wild mustangs they hunt,
but it also describes the 4 main characters, each lost in a world they
hardly recognize. At one point Monroe points to a mountain vista and
says "it's like a dream." Each of the characters is wounded and lost in
some way. Marilyn Monroe plays a divorcée trying to figure out what to
do next. Clark Gable plays a cowboy in a vanishing west. Montgomery
Clift plays a rancher cheated out of his legacy when his mother
remarries. Eli Wallach plays a guy whose life has come to a standstill
after the death of his wife. The characters circle each other, trying
to make connections, but their timing is always off. Gable and Monroe
seem to find something until they go on the mustang hunt.
Gable is magnificent as the aging cowboy who fears "working for wages" as the final sign of giving in to the commonplace and losing the old west. But the old west is, of course, already lost. Most of the action takes place in and around Reno, the perfect symbol for what the west has become. His drunk scene (after he has seen his kids) is astonishing in its pain and ugliness. It's a great performance.
Monroe is stunning and gives a quiet and simple performance that shows what she could have done (had she lived). Leaving her "dumb blonde" persona in the dust, what we get here is Monroe the actress, and she's just plain terrific. Aside from the scene (done in a long shot) where she rages at the men after they have captured the horses, Monroe plays this character very quietly and with lots of small reactions (watch her eyes). It's a great performance.
Clift and Wallach do wonders with their characters and provide a lot of the tension since all three men pursue Monroe. Thelma Ritter is solid as Isabelle. Estelle Winwood has an odd role as the old lady collecting money. James Barton and Kevin McCarthy have small roles.
I think THE MISFITS is a must see for any serious film buff. The film collapsed under the weight of its publicity in 1961 and there was a huge backlash when Gable died within 2 weeks of finishing the film. Yet the film is gorgeous, a shimmering Arthur Miller poem to the worlds and people we've lost.
I still remember when it was reported Clark Gable had had a heart
attack shortly after completing The Misfits. It happened just before
Election Day because there was a news item and it's mentioned in at
least one Gable biography that he voted by absentee ballot in 1960.
Shortly after that he died and the world was waiting the birth of his
son and his last posthumous film.
No doubt about it Gable does look all of his 59 years in the Misfits. But he's still exudes that gruff animal magnetism that leaves you no doubt as to why Marilyn Monroe was finding him so sexy. It's an interesting and challenging role for Gable, his Gay Langland is a bitter multi-layered character, whose family has deserted him and his way of life is vanishing. All three of the men, Gable, Monty Clift, and Eli Wallach have a deathly fear of working for wages expressed often during The Misfits.
For Monty Clift it's more than fear. He's also bitter about being cheated out of his father's ranch by a stepfather who offers him wages. So he's taken to the rodeo circuit, but he's also past his prime in that dangerous sport.
Eli Wallach starts out as what we think is a deep sensitive portrayal, but as we go along we find there's less than meets the eye. He wants Marilyn Monroe real bad (who wouldn't) and it's clear he's just using some of his best lines in his quest for her.
Marilyn as eastern divorcée to be serves as the group's conscience when they start going after mustangs for dog food manufacturers. Quite illegally of course, but that's part of the challenge for this group. Lots of shots of Marilyn's bulges both front and rear are another good reason to see this film.
Towards the end the wild mustangs on the Nevada desert take over the film from the human actors. They are a kind of doppleganger for this group, they are also misfits with no place in the modern world for them except as canned dog food.
Those roping stunts and Clark Gable being dragged by a horse probably put a strain on his cardiovascular system. It's been written that Marilyn was the cause of his demise. Pure and utter nonsense. I can't believe John Huston the director let him do those scenes. Why wasn't a stunt double used? Marilyn Monroe was one royal pain to work with, what with all of her issues, but that surely had nothing to do with what happened to Gable.
The Misfits still holds up well after over 40 years. All of the cast can be proud of their work in that film.
The Misfits is famous for being the last completed film of two cultural icons, Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe. It brings the two famous stars into the then current year of 1961.
This is a movie about a woman in Reno, Nevada (where else?) who is there to get a divorce. On a whim (she makes up her mind fast!) she drives out to the desert on the day of her divorce with a washed out aging cowboy (Clark Gable) and his buddy (Eli Wallach) as well as her friend (Thelma Ritter). This begins a wistful adventure and sometimes sad relationship for her with the cowboy and his misfit friends (including Montgomery Clift). They grapple with life's issues from divorce, friendship, greed and even cruelty until finally, everyone's character and philosophy of life is laid bare in a showdown over 6 wild horses.
This is an underrated cinematic gem...and I can see why. The first time I saw this movie a few years ago I thought it was beautiful and well done but sad and too depressing with a vague ending. Recently, I couldn't pass it by because of it's place in movie history when I saw it on DVD for just $5.88! What a shock I got watching this one on my big screen TV in the original widescreen format in glorious black and white. It was so fantastically fascinating from beginning to end that I watched it twice in a row. Marilyn Monroe is an amazing actress and she brings Rosalyn Tabor to life in this film. She's riveting and not because of her fantastic looks. What a thrill! Clark Gable inhabits his character Gay like he's in his own skin, making him a man you can respect and sympathize with. Montgomery Clift, Eli Wallach and Thelma Ritter are all incredible in their roles. I don't know how I missed so much the first time I saw this move. It has humor, pathos and drama. The great John Houston directs it brilliantly! The cinematography is nothing short of breathtaking and the editing is sheer genius. It's an overlooked cinematic gem and I recommend it! Watch it twice if you're don't see the joy and hope in this film the first time. It's there! This crew hs created a near mastepiece. Keep following that same bright star. I rate this a 91/100. Don't miss seing it in the widescreen format on a big screen TV.
Two of the previous comments have it right about Nevada. It is without
question the most barren of places in terms of the sustenance of human life,
yet it has a rare beauty that transcends the ugliness of its crass cities
and radioactive vistas. The fact that it encompasses an entirely landlocked
basin in which great rivers roar down to disappear in dry lakebeds speaks to
the main point. Pristine alpine meadows form islands in the sky surrounded
by millions of acres of desolation.
When I first saw "The Misfits" in 1961, after having read the savage reviews and followed the sensational press coverage of its production, my initial reaction was that most people just missed the point. I still think so, particularly after reading some of the negative comments here that parrot accepted wisdom about filmmaking in general and what is perceived as a misfire by Miller and Huston. But I have news for the naysayers: this film tells it like it is.
So what if it's a stage play set in the desert? So what if the characters devolve and come apart according to some apparently hidden hand of random fate? Those who get the story right are those who see past what seem at first to be surreal clichés existing only as fodder for the cameras and instead grasp the horror and ugliness of what passes as everyday life for the eponymous ensemble. Nothing happens, and yet everything happens.
Gable, Monroe, Clift. Arthur Miller himself. Figures that seem larger than life. This has little to do with horses and everything to do with the tragedy of Everyman.
To view "The Misfits" in 2006 turns out to be quite a chilling experience. Prophetically in its "doomness" - personal doomness that is. Arthur Miller writes, unwittingly, his wife's swan song and she sings it with a combination of uppers and downers. Pay attention to Eli Wallach describing Marilyn to Clark Gable. Was that Miller himself being particularly misogynistic or what hell was it? She talks about herself, they all talk about her. She is a hurricane right in the middle of a human storm. Montgomery Clift seems to be talking about himself too. The whole bloody thing is really close to the knuckle. Arid, depressing, slow and yet, riveting, funny, mesmerizing. "The Misfits" should be seen for a variety of reasons but to see Gable and Monroe sharing a black and white screen a short time before their deaths is an experience on itself.
"The Misfits" is literally about four people who don't fit into
A divorcée (Monroe) meets cowboy Langland (Gable), who is
getting too old for his job
They decide to live together
rodeo star (Clift) and an unemployed mechanic (Wallach) join in the
Huston's masculine images are stripped of their former glory, existing only one rough exterior which fails to conceal what has been lost Eventually the men agree to round up wild mustangs for a dog food manufacturer
Scenes of the trio and Monroe speeding across the prairie in a beaten-up truck, raising a hurricane of dust while attempting to rope the stallions, are the strongest evocations of lost souls wandering in time
Huston's film established Marilyn Monroe as a dramatic sensuous actress, thus liberating her from a decade of steamy cheesecake roles in sexy comedies
I've always wanted to see this movie because of the legendary actors
associated with it and yesterday I finally rented it. I can't say it is an
entertaining movie, but it is certainly profound and stays with you.
Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift were all wonderful. There is something extra poignant about the casting of these three actors. It is like "misfits" playing misfits. Knowing that it is Clark Gable's and Marilyn Monroe's last film added to the aura of finality at the end. Marilyn Monroe definitely does not get the credit she deserves as the fine actress she was. Even her character is trying to get beyond the external first impression she makes on men.
It is the first film I've seen of Montgomery Clift's. What a fine actor! He brought enormous depth to his character--much of which was portrayed without speaking.
Once again, if you're looking for an entertaining film, you may be disappointed. If you're looking for an interesting blend of characters who, in many ways, are mirrors of the actors playing them, then rent the Misfits. It is packed with stars but not with glitzy star quality, just no-holds-barred, uninhibited acting.
This is a one of a kind film experience which has taken on even more depth with our hindsight into the lives of its creators. Written by Monroe's then husband, Arthur Miller, and produced as their marriage was ending, it provides Monroe with the role of her life. There are many great moments in the film, the most famous being her tirade against the cruelty and dishonesty of the men in her life. You will never forget her cries of "Murderers!" , even more horrifying now, given the suspicions surrounding her death. But for me the most unforgettable moment takes place in the cab of the truck when Eli Wallach's character offers to save the lives of some horses if she will give up the man she is with and live with him. The look on her face changes from hope to horror as she realizes he's bartering the horses' lives for hers: "You have to GET something in order to act human?!" she spits out at him. It's a great script, cast perfectly, and speaks as sadly and as eloquently to us now as it did forty years ago.
The Misfits, the last film of Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe, is a
truly haunting film that never leaves you long after you've finished
watching it. Despite having a poor box office and mixed reviews, it is
now highly regarded among modern critics. It is about a restless
fragile divorcée finding a new life in Reno with a couple of cowboys,
one of which has a gambling problem and survives on slaughtering
mustangs to make dog food.
Not only does this showcase Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable's exceptional (and often underestimated) talent, but it is a very beautiful movie that lingers on in your mind long after you have finished watching it. Personally it has affected me a lot, especially the horse sequence. I know this was essential to the film but as an animal lover and vegetarian I found it very distressing - in fact incredibly distressing seeing the horses being treated that way for the sake of the movie. Nevertheless, it added to the movie and when they were set free, it was the most magnificent moment in the movie. Marilyn's screaming part was also very beautiful, I felt her frustration completely.
The Misfits is a very suitable title as it refers to both the poor horses caught up in the web of human greed and also to the restless humans, unsatisfied and cruel.
This is a very moving movie, showing the cruelness of human nature and a most realistic portrayal of human life, both the positive and the negative. I was so astounded by both Marilyn and Clark's acting, plus the magnificent script which was so very intelligent, magnificent quotes. I definitely recommend this movie to everyone.
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