The Misfits (1961)
Release Date: February 1,1961
Directed by: John Huston
Available on DVD here
Making the Misfits is also available on DVD
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.
“Wait up! I was just going over to see you!”
“I tell you, I’m dyin’ for some fresh air–and no people, male or female!”
“You’re a real beautiful woman. It’s almost kind of an honor sitting next to you. You just shine in my eyes.
That’s my true feeling, Rosalyn.”
“What makes you so sad? I think you’re the saddest girl I ever met.”
“Y’know, sometimes when a person don’t know what to do, the best thing is to just stand still.”
“I may not amount to much in some ways but I am a good friend.”
“Do I look like I want to leave?”
“You ain’t kiddin’! Even when you’re kiddin’ you ain’t kiddin’!”
“In those days I thought you got married and that was it. But nothing’s it. Not forever.”
“Honey, when you smile it’s like the sun coming up!”
“Honey, we all got to go sometime, reason or no reason. Dyin’s as natural as livin’. A guy who’s too afraid to die is too afraid to live.”
“Gaylord! I know you hear me! You come here now!”
“Honey, honey, I got a little mad, that’s all. That don’t mean I don’t like you. Didn’t your papa ever spank you then pick you up and give you a big kiss? He did, didn’t he?”
“I don’t know about you educated people but us ignorant folk gotta hit the sack.”
“Boy, I’m beginning to smell wages all over you!”
“I never thought of it but I guess the fewer you kill, the worse it looks.”
“I was just wondering who you think you’ve been talking to since we met!”
“Don’t want nobody makin’ up my mind for me, that’s all.”
“Damn ’em all. They changed it, changed it all around. Smeared it all over with blood. I’m finished with it. It’s like roping a dream now. I just gotta find another way to be alive, that’s all. If there is one anymore.”
“How do you find your way back in the dark?”
“Just head for that big star straight on. The highway’s under it, it’ll take us right home.”
final line onscreen
Behind the Scenes:
Filming began on July 18,1960 and due to multiple delays, did not conclude until November 4. It was on November 4 that Gable and Monroe shot the last scene of the film, with the two of them in the truck heading home.
Gable failed his first physical for production insurance, which worried producers that they would have to find another star. Gable quickly lost some weight and cut out alcohol per doctor’s orders and passed the examination a few weeks later.
Gable was paid $48,000 in overtime due to multiple delays.
The delays in filming were due mostly to Monroe’s drug abuse and constant fighting with then-husband Arthur Miller. She even went to rehab for a week during filming. Clift was also struggling with drug addiction and director John Ford would spend his nights losing money gambling at the local casinos, then arriving late the next morning.
Monroe’s scenes were all shot in sequence because it was easier for her to slip back into her character that way. On days she was unexpectedly absent, the scenes without her were shot, until they ran out and had to put the film on hold until she was ready to return to the set.
Gable performed some of his own stunts, including being dragged by a mustang for 400 feet, and falling off a car roof onto the ground.
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.
Pregnant Kay Gable, in her only interview after his death, lashed out at Monroe and the production of the film, stating that he was so bored sitting around all day waiting for Monroe to come out of her trailer that he would do his own stunts. Although the stunts certainly didn’t help matters, Gable was not in good health. The lifetime of cigarettes, alcohol and fluctuating weight gain had caught up with him. After her baby’s birth, Kay held out an olive branch to Monroe and invited her to the baby’s christening, which was one of Monroe’s last public appearances, as she would die just a year later.
Although Gable himself said after seeing a rough cut of the film that it was the best he had ever made, The Misfits did not do well at the box office. The first few days of release saw huge crowds anxious to see Gable’s last performance, but word of mouth killed its future and it slipped out of theaters quickly.