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CLARK GABLE, MONTOMERY CLIFT & MARILYN MONROE 'THE MISFITS

Title: THE MISFITS Year: 1961 Shown: Clark Gable Rating: ***1/2

Most famous about THE MISFITS is that Clark Gable died right after filming, and Marilyn Monroe would live only a year or so later, both being their final films and... written by Marilyn's real life husband, playwright Arthur Miller, based on their May/December relationship with Gable as an old tough cowboy instead of scholar (trying to understand this woman as quirky as she's beautiful)... it's simply too crowded...

All that's really needed were the two soon-fallen stars... Although Eli Wallach (who ironically lasted until his nineties) has a strategic role as Gable's horse-herding partner, who initially meets the divorcing Monroe's Roslyn (living with experienced mentor Thelma Ritter) in the central town of Reno, Nevada where director John Huston injects his usual sparse B&W into natural dialogue and creative camera angles, much like an Americanized French New Wave film... even taking intentional time before completely revealing Monroe's face...

From THE MISFITS

After which Eli's smitten in what's initially more of a loose, character-driven comedy-drama that Huston might have handled better than what THE MISFITS turns into about thirty-minutes after Gable's introduced in a beer-hall... where his being smitten to Marilyn actually sticks... and especially the one-person-too-many in Montgomery Clift (who'd also die that decade), a rodeo rider so weird and overly Actor's Studio stage-driven (at one point the characters watch him make a phone call like it's a one-man-play), the modern western seems too overbearingly penned by an ambitious playwright, often making country folk sound more like pontificating Greenwich Villagers…

Even the romantic scenes drag during night shots too dark to see clearly (Gable's very old looking while Monroe's too girlish and whiny, yet they do have a comfortable rhythm): a shame since THE MISFITS needed less talk and more action... which, centering on the titular horses that provide a moral conscience climax... is filmed at a brisk, severe and rugged pace that ultimately takes too long to reach.

Clark Gable and Eli Wallach in THE MISFITS
Clark Gable and Montgomery Clift in THE MISFITS
Eli Wallach in THE MISFITS
Marilyn Monroe in THE MISFITS
Eli Wallach and Thelma Ritter in THE MISFITS
Marilyn Monroe and Thelma Ritter in THE MISFITS
Clark Gable and Montgomery Clift in THE MISFITS
Marilyn Monroe  in THE MISFITS


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