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“How do you find your way back in the dark?” Roslyn (Marilyn Monroe) asks Gay (Clark Gable). “Just head for that big star – the highway’s under it – it will take us back home,” Gay replies, indicating to us symbolically that there’s always a way back from the darkness that man has created in The Misfits, released on May 10th on Blu-ray by Twentieth Century Fox.
Three men band together for a short while in their pursuit of the vivacious Roslyn, newly divorced and “a girl sweet enough to eat,” as Guido (Eli Wallach) describes her. New friend Isabelle (Thelma Ritter)
tells Roslyn, “Don’t leave, settle here, they’ve got a school, you could teach dancing. One thing about this place, they have a lot of fine strangers here.” But Roslyn is still searching to find out who she is, and when rodeo rider Perce (Montgomery Clift) asks her “Who do you depend on, who?” (noting how his mother changed towards him after the death of his father), Roslyn answers, “I don’t know, maybe just the next thing, the next thing that happens.”
All four have dark elements in their lives – Gay, mourning the loss of his children Gaylord and Rosemary afer a divorce and catching wild mustangs just to shoot them so they can be made into dog and cat food; Roslyn, having danced in clubs where just dancing is never enough; Perce, drinking like crazy ever since his mother found a new man and from then on barely acknowledged him; and Guido, who knew his wife since he was seven years old and after she died never wanted a new love, and who was a bombardier in the war and says that “We killed people we never even knew.”
The men project all goodness onto Roslyn, as Gay tells her “You’re a real beautiful woman. It’s almost kind of an honor sitting next to you. You just shine in my eyes,” and Guido says, “You have the gift of life, Roslyn. The rest of us are just looking for a place to hide and watch it all go by.” But Roslyn is confused about life and says, “We’re all dying, aren’t we? All the husbands and wives – we aren’t teaching each other what we really know.”
The amazing directorship of John Huston (who made The Maltese Falcon) and the penetrating and beautiful authorship of Pulitzer Prize winner Arthur Miller (still married to Marilyn Monroe at the time) is a combination that’s hard to beat (especially when set against the breath-taking landscapes of Nevada). Marilyn Monroe’s acting is not all fluff, as in some of her other movies, and Clarke Gable is highly believable as a seasoned cowboy who’s lived the same way his entire life, avoiding dull “wages” jobs. Eli Wallach is great as the guy whose wife would have lived if he’d had a spare tire and Montgomery Clift as the rodeo rider whose body is always bruised and beaten is no acting slouch either. The Misfits is a classic that no one should miss!
Total Running Time: 125 minutes
A black-and-white film originally released in 1961 now on Blu-ray
Written by Arthur Miller
Directed by John Huston
With Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift, Thelma Ritter and Eli Wallach
Special Feature: Theatrical Trailer
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