Monday, June 2, 2008

Essential Cinema - 31

The Misfits

Clark Gable
Marilyn Monroe
Montgomery Clift
Thelma Ritter
Eli Wallach

John Huston

Arthur Miller

Russell Metty

Four direction-less drifters meet up in Reno, Nevada. They wander the desert in search of freedom and eventually redefine their expectations.

Coming to terms with who we are and what we want out of life. Admitting to our inner demons and casting them out into the light of day.

What do you get when you take a great director, the greatest playwright of his generation and three of the hottest stars in Hollywood? You get this film. The last film of Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe.

It is difficult to describe this film. It is definitely worth watching, but explaining what it is to someone that has not seen it is almost impossible. Like previous films I have reviewed that were intimate character studies (Night of the Iguana and L'avventura), there really is no 'arch' in this film. There is no beginning, middle and conclusion.

These are troubled individuals before the advent of counseling and therapy. Lord knows, each of them would be on a psychiatrists couch for decades. But in the early 1960s, the wide open spaces of Nevada is the couch and the characters must counsel each other.

It is no secret that Arthur Miller penned this screenplay for this wife, Marylin Monroe. The acting in the film is excellent. I mean really good. Marilyn Monroe was no bimbo. She knew how to act and her character borders between virginal, ditzy and very intense. Clift and Gable are exceptional as the aging cowboys trying to make a living without resorting to 'wages'. The young Eli Wallach is intense and cocky as the recently widowed ex-army pilot on the rebound.

All the men are vying for the affections of Monroe's character. She stumbles into their midst and breaths a breath of fresh air into their meandering lives, like smelling salts to a drowsy patient. But she has her demons as well and together they must all sort things out, but it isn't an easy road. In the end, some of the cast 'get it' and move on, but their fate is left up to the viewer.

Time changes our views of some films. I saw this film a long time ago when I was younger. Back then, I went into a film expecting to see certain things, and my opinion of the film was based on what I hoped to see. Now, I go into a viewing trying to figure out what the director was trying to tell me and looking for the subtle things that youth don't tend to look for. In that regard, this film is a treasure trove of content with metaphor and symbolism in almost every scene. The last of which is Monroe's final line on screen, "How do you find your way home in the dark?" You will have to see this film to figure that one out.

This film is a part of my LaserDisc Collection which can be viewed here.

Clicking on the "Essential Cinema" title will take you to the Internet Movie Database entry for this film.

Clicking here will take you to a listing of all the "Essential Cinema" reviews in my Blog.