- John Huston
- Reviewed by
- a.k.a. Jacinda
- Review date
- Thursday, October 18, 2001
Roslyn (Monroe) has just been divorced when she meets Guido (Eli Wallach) and Gay (Gable), two worn-out cowboys in Reno, Nevada. Trying to escape the hurtful past Roslyn decides to spend the next week with her new friends on the countryside. Soon she finds herself in love with the charismatic Gay. When Gay and his friends Guido and Perce (Montgomery Clift) take Roslyn on a trip to hunt wild horses things get out of control.
The plot sounds rather uncommon and it certainly is for a movie. At first you have to adjust to the different way of storytelling but once you’ve discovered these characters they won’t let you go. Miller’s handwriting is imminent in every line of this movie. The dialogue is poignant and thoughtful. In fact, The Misfits shares many similarities to a theater play as the characters and the dialogue are in the center of interest.
Miller wrote this screenplay for his wife Marilyn Monroe as a chance to prove her acting skills in a demanding role. In many scenes, Marilyn looks tired but she is as radiant as ever. This is undoubtedly the most intense performance of her career. Its appeal might as well be related to the way her character Roslyn resembles Norma Jean herself. Roslyn is a very attractive woman that is adored by men who feel attracted to her but only on a physical level. They don’t want to get to know the person behind the perfect smile and the perfect body. Roslyn suffers from this lack of understanding and most of all from the absence of love in her life.
To make it even worse, Miller describes Roslyn as a very sensitive woman that is unable to bear the cruelties of the world. Roslyn takes things in her life seriously. She cares for other people and living beings, she feels empathy for them to a degree that harms herself. Marilyn plays this woman in a frighteningly realistic way. She is natural and shows vulnerability that goes beyond reason. Even though Marilyn herself said she was disappointed by the movie, she delivers a haunting performance that will take your breath away.
Equally brilliant is Clark Gable as Gay Langland, another person lost in the world. The era of cowboys has come to an end and there is no return to the good old times when everything used to be easy. Gay has become an outsider who desperately tries to make a stand as a man. The Misfits centers on the alienation of people. Gable’s most impressive scene shows him crying out for his son. The wild horses scene is the most powerful one that will stay on your mind for a long time. The way Marilyn is shown as a small figure lost in the widths of the prairie is a strong symbol of the loss of belonging and the loss of innocence.
John Huston shot this movie in beautiful frames capturing the very essence of his characters. The fact that this is both Monroe’s and Gable’s last movie makes it even harder to take – especially since it deals with such essential questions of life. Both actors will stay unforgotten and this movie is a living document of their talent and uniqueness.
"Honey, we all got to go sometime, reason or no reason. Dyin's as natural as livin': man who's afraid to die is afraid to live, far as I've ever seen. So there's nothin' to do but forget it, that's all. Seems to me."
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