The Misfits (1961)

The Misfits
Directed by John Huston
Written by Arthur Miller
1961/USA
Seven Arts Pictures/Seven Arts Productions
First viewing/Netflix rental

Roslyn: If I’m going to be alone, I want to be by myself.

This isn’t Arthur Miller’s best work but it’s excellent to look at and you can’t beat the cast.

Roslyn (Marilyn Monroe) is in Reno to get a divorce.  There she is befriended by worldly-wise Isabelle (Thelma Ritter).  They hit the bars together and meet up with pilot Guido (Eli Wallach) and his friend aging cowboy Gay (Clark Gable).  Obviously, Roslyn is a man-magnet and Gay and Guido are immediately vying for her attentions.  Gay tells her she should stick around and see the real West and Guido offers to put her up in his house in the desert.  Having nothing better to do, Roslyn agrees.

It is Gay and Roslyn that start up a romance.  They spend an idyllic time together in the house but we also see a developing friction between the ultra-sensitive woman and her lover, a man’s man if ever there was one.  Then Guido returns with the news that there is a herd of mustangs in the mountains that they can round up.  They hit a rodeo to find a third man to help.  This is reckless, sensitive Perce Howland (Montgomery Clift).  Soon he is also in the explosive mix of lusters after Rosalind.  Matters come to a head during the mustanging expedition.

This movie is famous for being the last on-screen work of Gable and Monroe.  It’s more than a curiosity however.  The leads and supporting players also do some of their best work.  If I had to choose among them, I would say Gable’s performance is the stand-out.  On the other hand, a lot of the dialogue didn’t ring exactly true to me and the ending didn’t really follow from the rest of the film.  I did think the theme of the changing West and changing male roles was very interesting.  The film is beautifully shot.

Trailer