In a Nutshell: The Misfits (1961)
Directed by: John Huston
Co-stars: Marilyn Monroe, Eli Wallach, Montgomery Clift, Thelma Ritter
Synopsis: The last film of two icons of the screen, The Misfits is a poetic end to the careers of both Gable and Monroe. Gable is Gay Langland, an aging cowboy in Reno who avoids responsibility and anything tying him down. He and his buddy Guido (Wallach) run into Roslyn (Monroe), a depressed ex-dancer who is in Reno getting a divorce. She’s been staying with Isabelle (Ritter) to establish her residency requirement for the divorce. They all have nowhere to be and no one to answer to, so they decide to head out to Guido’s house in the Nevada desert. Although Guido actively pursues her, Roslyn falls quickly for Gay, and he for her. They decide to stay at Guido’s house alone and live there together. But Roslyn’s delicate sensitivity and Gay’s hard-headed masculinity don’t see eye to eye and their differences show themselves on everything from killing bunnies eating their garden to worrying about their friend Perce (Clift) getting hurt in the rodeo. The final straw is when Roslyn accompanies the men on a trip to round up wild mustangs, or “misfits” for dog food.
Best Gable Quote: “Just head for that big star straight on. The highway’s under it, it’ll take us right home.”
Not At All Fun Fact: Gable suffered a heart attack three days after completion of the film and was diagnosed with coronary thrombosis. He died just days later, on November 16, 1960, after suffering a second heart attack.
My Verdict: A poetic and fitting goodbye. The Misfits is far from a perfect film, but his performance is a divine send-off. “Look everyone, see, I can really act! I always could!” And in that same vein it feels like we were cheated out of more such performances. The film itself is preachy and talky, like a poem that goes on too long. It is a bit painful to see Clark looking so deteriorated. Decades and decades of heavy smoking and drinking and taken their toll and instead of looking like his actual age of 59, Clark looks more like 70. Marilyn’s ghosts were beginning to show and her performance is more because of it–the fluff and glitter were stripped away. Who would have ever guessed that this would be the last film for two legends.
Gable, Monroe and Clift were indeed perfectly cast as a band of wandering misfits.
And that does it, folks! All of Clark Gables films! Two months and all 66!