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.
Drama / Romance / Western
Drama / Romance / Western
A divorcée falls for an over-the-hill cowboy who is struggling to maintain his romantically independent lifestyle.
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April 2, 2019