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The Misfits (1961) // Watch With Spooool #9

This is a follow-up to our June/July “Watch With Spooool”. Listen to the podcast for more. Read Nigel’s take on Giant here.

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the misfits


Released: June 1961 (U.K.)

Awards: Won the Genesis Award (rewarding films that raise animal issues and awareness) in 1993 for Classic Feature Film

Fun Fact: Gave the name to American punk outfit The Misfits

Director John Huston would have many more films left in him despite wide reports of drinking and gambling on the set of The Misfits, but unfortunately Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable would not be so lucky. Both actors would share the limelight in this their final completed picture. Gable died a mere ten days after filming fished with Monroe holding out another year and a half.

Monroe plays Roslyn, a soft spoken deeply caring women who keeps ending up with the wrong guy but perhaps Gay Langland (Gable) will change all that or just keep her locked in a cycle of disappointment. An excellent supporting cast in the form of Eli Wallach, Montgomery Clift (who himself would die in 1966) and Thelma Ritter round out this hot, tense drama in the wilds of Nevada.

Arthur Miller penned the screenplay which was originally intended as a short story (he wrote it while waiting on a divorce to come through from his first wife) as a sort of love letter to his waiting bride Monroe. The marriage to Monroe collapsed as filming progressed with her hating the character and accusing Miller of treating her like an idiot. With so few characters and fraught dialogue in contained settings, it has all the trappings of a play. Miller was at the height of his fame and it tells in the picture making it much more than a “kitchen sink” western.

More fitting was how so many of the actors and director were like a collection of vagabonds. A doctor was on call 24hrs a day for both Monroe and Clift’s substance abuse and filming was stopped for two weeks while Monroe was in rehab. Huston was often up to all hours gambling and Gable was seen as well past his prime.

All the off screen shenanigans aside the film contains career bests from many concerned, showing real weakness and vulnerability not often seen. Eli Wallach steals the show especially when recounting the story pertaining to the death of his wife making The Misfits a truly worthwhile film that delivers on many levels.

Further Reading: The Film That Fate Help Make A Classic


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