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The Misfits Reviews

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Super Reviewer

August 22, 2012
A film most famous for its on-set turmoil, The Misfits marks a tragic period in film history: it was both Marilyn Monroe' and Clark Gable's last film before their respective deaths, and Monty Cliff had just come off of facial reconstruction surgery following his horrific car accident -- not to mention Huston's well documented alcoholism and the imploding marriage between Monroe and Arthur Miller. When reading about all of the behind-the-scenes problems, one has to marvel that the film even got made.

For me, any film that attempts to demystify the myth of the "Old West" will always be judged against the paramount example of that theme, Midnight Cowboy. To that end, The Misfits falls flat in comparison. Monroe's character's moral compass is broadly drawn and shallow, as are the half-baked themes of individual responsibility and class stratification. Huston's direction, as usual, is smart and lean, but that's about it.
Pierluigi P

Super Reviewer

April 13, 2011
The struggle of flawed individuals to find a righteous modus vivendi in an unfair and indifferent world. A sense of unity despite the suffering and hopelessness among the characters touches the heart, even more when you know the actors' lives were mirroring what happens in the screen. They were also heading towards the end, and seemed to be accepting that idea, with heartrending melancholy and not without reluctancy.

Super Reviewer

March 27, 2007
This movie is about despair. Despair at the passing of a way of life. Despair at disappointed hopes and dreams. Despair at the loss of a loved one, either through death, divorce or disinterest. Knowing that going in and you don't mind downbeat films there are some really moving performances from a cast full of legends.

Super Reviewer

October 3, 2010
Roslyn (Marilyn Monroe) is a more rare bird: flighty and sensuous, beautiful and beaten, she is this world's canary in the coalmine. This is easily Monroe's finest work in a serious role, a tremulous and delicate performance. Gay (Clark Gable) and Roslyn are an unlikely pair, but it is the nature of The Misfits' philosophical fatalism that they are thrust together, their discordant outlooks providing conflict and hinting at thematic resolution.
This was the last hurrah for Monroe and Gable. The acting is good, but the storyline is lean.

Super Reviewer

September 7, 2010
While watching this movie I felt like I was back in high school English again, reading plays about isolationism. AND for once in my life I was watching Marilyn Monroe without mentally making fun of her performance... and I kinda wish her character had ended up with Clift's character.
I think if this had been written as a play, it would have been fabulous, but I do understand the freedoms of the screen (like having horses) but the *deep meaning* of it might have come out stronger and better.
Overall, I dunno. I'm kinda mixed on it.

Super Reviewer

January 24, 2010
It's hard to make heads or tails of this film, but it still holds some interest and is generally entertaining. There just isn't much of a coherent narrative thread to keep it all together, but there are some great performances nonetheless.
Mr Awesome
Mr Awesome

Super Reviewer

December 18, 2009
Written by Arthur Miller, the story is a melancholy portrait of lost souls, reflecting the real lives of its stars. Roslyn Taber (Marilyn Monroe) is in Reno with her girlfriend (Thelma Ritter) to get a divorce when she attracts a pair of cowboys who'd like to show her a good time. These four people fall in together rather quickly, but it's just the illusion of a good time they're having. She winds up going with them out to the desert to watch them capture mustangs to sell to dog food manufacturers. Monroe is damaged goods, everyone wants to be close to her but she just doesn't seem to care (until she cares too much in moments that happen at random). They all see in her what they want, whether its innocent child or sexpot. She seems like a child but is a little bit cold (or simply unaware of people, I'm not sure). She's very sensitive and breathy. Dancing is a 1960s metaphor for sex. She's supposed to be innocent and pure but everyone wants to "dance" with her, and it's clear she's not shy about engaging in this type of behavior. Everyone's damaged though, and they seem to be competing for her attention with who has the biggest sob story. Not to denegrate Marilyn Monroe's role in the film (especially since the role was specifically written for her at the time), but I think another actress would've been better suited to this film, perhaps one not as breathy and old as she. If it had been made 30 years previous, with a younger Clark Gable and a younger actress, it could have been more. By the end, her character comes off as hypocritical and just plain awful, someone who wants a sensitive, empathetic man when she's as self-absorbed as any of them. Watching 3 degenerate men fight over an infantile woman is pretty sad, which I guess was the intention of the film? It's a drag of a film that drags itself out a little too long. But Montgomery Clift is quite good in it, and so is Gable. It's a shame such acting talent is wasted on a Marilyn Monroe vanity project.
Red L

Super Reviewer

February 4, 2009
I wondered who the Misfits were in this film - the mustangs or the people. It is worth watching this movie.

Marilyn Monroe actually acts and one wonders if her sad role (in this film written by her husband at the time) had anything to do with Marilyn's life at the time. Of course the fact that four of the five stars of the film (including Marilyn and Clark Gable) would die within 8 years of the film makes it a must see as well.

Super Reviewer

December 9, 2007
a tough watch, with history more tragic than the story itself. monroe's best performance was also her last; gable looks sick playing one of his most vulnerable roles and monty clift is like someone else with that broken face...when roslyn says 'we're all dying' u can believe it. great support from the wonderful thelma ritter and eli wallach, the sole survivor 50 years on. a bleak and depressing film about lost and broken people.

Super Reviewer

March 24, 2008
I enjoyed this film much more then I expected to.

It's one of those films that doesn't immediately grab you...but that when you just sit back and allow the story to really sucks you in.

By the end of the film I was pleasantly surprised and quite moved. More so by Marilyn's performance, then by the story itself.

It's not a perfect film by any means. There were several issues that I had with it. One specific thing was sound related. It seemed that there many instances (usually while filming outdoors) where the dialog wasn't picked up properly. This resulted in an over abundance of what sounded like voice-over work being done by the actors after the fact (often without adding back in the apropriate ambient sounds) which often distracted from the flow of the film.

Marilyn (like Gable) has a very distinct style of acting. While this is (sadly) her final film, I think it is definately her best work. She is still the sexy, breathy blond bombshell...but she really brings a depth to her character that proves (in my opinion) that had she lived long enough (and/or been given the opportunity)...we might have been surprised by what she was capable of.

The rest of the cast are good as well, but on a much more "just what you'd expect" level. No big surprises there.

Super Reviewer

April 9, 2007
Monroe's Attempt at a serious film, and her final appearance. I must say I found her unconvincing, and the film as a whole rather dull.
Michael G

Super Reviewer

October 31, 2006
Good but so goddamn depressing! In Monroe's last film, she finally proves she could act.
Chris B

Super Reviewer

July 3, 2011
You feel some strange vibes when watching The Misfits, both Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe's last film before each died. The film itself is a story of outsiders in the world, each with their own problems and strangely relates to the personal lives of the stars previously mentioned. A great piece of cinema history and an all around good and heartfelt film. It is a story of hope and dreams and gaining respect but love and lust can get in the way of them if you let them. Recommended!
Mike T

Super Reviewer

August 5, 2006
Marilyn Monroe's lead performance is far from being impressive, but to my surprise it has no negative impact on the film overall. Her performance is one note - all wistfully whispered dialogue and forced pauses; but she serves well as a vessel for the audience to meet the other characters vicariously through. Clark Gable's final role is beautifully played, with visible undercurrents of pain in almost every scene. Eli Wallach is fantastic too, with Montgomery Clift turning in the kind of haunting interpretation that makes him a legend. Miller's screenplay falls for very few conventional Hollywood traps, delivering instead a quiet rumination on lost souls and a yearning for a better time. John Huston's familiarity with the visual element of film is always evident, with expertly crafted scenes that remind us of the importance of pacing.
Robert F

Super Reviewer

May 5, 2010
A strange film. Our knowledge of what came later for the three leads also adds a haunting tone to the proceedings.
March 28, 2013
It has pacing issues and too much of a happy ending, but you can see why Marilyn Monroe fell for Arthur Miller. That script is almost as in-and-out gorgeous as she is.
April 12, 2011
A gritty film, showing the real side of cowboys and the defunct lives they lead. The mustang hunt was a powerful spectacle. Monroe was her usual alluring self, but it turned out to be her taming the cowboys with her compassion poised against their rough and ready survival skills. This juxtaposition was a strong theme of how men and women balance each other in their relationships to eventually arrive at harmony.
August 30, 2011
why on earth would you take Marilyn Monroe mustang wrangling? OK, now that I've got that out of the way, this was a pretty decent film. definitely one of Monroe's better performances, so it's sad it ended up being her last. a story that feels a little like the French new wave and the beat generation crept into a Western. solid characters, relatable emotions, and a very well-written Arthur Miller script. subtle, charming, and very enjoyable.
May 20, 2010
One of the Century's most undeservedly overlooked films, built on superlative scriptwork, solid directing from John Huston - and superior deliveries by top-notch actors while each battled their personal demons.

The film was not a box office success, and remains overlooked, because its Western settings/scenery backdrops a highly-eruditic script more naturally suited for mid-Century Manhattan literary circles. Still, any reasonably attentive viewer can appreciate this story of a quintet of human beings struggling to discover who they will be, now that the worlds in which they once lived have moved on - and left them each standing alone amid the desert dust.

"The Misfits" is thoroughly drenched in fascinating backstory.

Miller, one of America's greatest mid-Century wordsmiths, took two years to forge this script (from his observations in Reno while awaiting the 1956 divorce that would free him to wed Monroe) both to honor feisty, individualistic Nevadans and to craft a dramatic showcase for Monroe. By 1960, when Miller returned to Reno for shooting, Marilyn was openly battling with him, romping with Yves Montand and abusing drugs/booze. Production stopped for Marilyn to go into detox. Barely able to stagger on-set, Marilyn, riding Miller's strong vehicle, proved herself the dramatic actress none would have thought. Marilyn died before completing another film.

In Act III, Gable insisted on dragging a 30mph stallion to the ground and hog-tying it himself, causing his own fatal heart attack two days after end-of-shooting, though he had griped that it was Marilyn's on-set behavior that would drive him to the grave.

Montgomery Clift's once-stellar career was also on the wane, amidst drugs and depression; Marilyn quipped that Monty was in worse shape than she. Clift died four years later.

RECOMMENDATION: For truest of film buffs, it's essential viewing.
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