The Misfits (Blu-ray)
In the 1961 film, THE MISFITS, blonde bombshell Roslyn Taber (Marilyn Monroe) goes to Reno, Nevada to file for divorce from her husband. While there she rents a room from an older divorcee, Isabelle Steers (Thelma Ritter) who acts as a mother figure of sorts. When Roslyn and Isabelle stop into a casino for a drink to commemorate Roslyn’s divorce they meet car mechanic Guido (Eli Wallach) and cowboy Gay Langland (Clark Gable). For some reason, the four head off to Guido’s unfinished home in the desert to see if Roslyn wants to move out there for the summer with Gay. From there a weird romance forms between Monroe and Gable. Before an unnecessarily long conclusion to this film, the four ‘misfits’ pair up for a road trip to the rodeo where they meet up with Perce Howland (Montgomery Clift).
It’s hard to disappoint when you have no expectations but somehow THE MISFITS managed to do just that. This film, directed by legendary John Huston, had potentially great moments but failed to deliver anything than a complete snooze. No clear connection was established between the characters and scenes that seemed like they should be lighthearted felt aggressive and angry. For example, there is a scene where Guido and Roslyn dance that loses me as a viewer. While Isabelle and Gay clap and cheer for the dancing duo, Guido looks like a psychopath ready to strike and Roslyn seems oblivious to the hostility we see on Guido’s face. Or, maybe I’m wrong and Guido just takes lighthearted dancing moments very, very seriously.
There was no need for this film to be slightly over two hours long. With scenes that dragged, the editing team could have cut them from 45 minutes to 15 minutes still achieving the same results. Perhaps a condensed version would have felt like less of a bore, the drama would have seemed legit and a better connection to the assorted characters would have been created. The puzzle-piece opening credits was a good foreshadowing, a group of four pieces that do not quite fit together.
Marilyn Monroe’s performance was all over the place. With the rumors of her tardiness and personal problems getting in the way of production, it comes as no surprise that there are times where she is aloof and disoriented looking to times where she commands attention on the screen. It saddens me as I have enjoyed her performances in other movies and know what she is capable of as an actress. This film was her last completed work before her tragic passing in 1962.
As the man who would not settle down for anyone but is finally semi-tamed by Monroe, I never quite saw the connection between Clark Gable’s gritty aged cowboy and Monroe’s sexy divorcee. His drunken rage when he cannot find his children felt more comical and overacted then the serious dramatic moment the script hoped to achieve. The love scene just felt inappropriate and wrong with a hint of creepy. But, he knew how to work the mustache, smile and twinkle in his eye whenever he told stories. As with Monroe, this was Gable’s last completed film as he died of a heart attack days after watching the final cut before it was released to theatres.
This film, full of famous faces and a sunny Blu-ray cover felt like it should have been a hit when unfortunately it was a miss. Despite the iconic actors, don’t waste your time on this choppy and dull flick.
Video (Widescreen 1.66:1): The black and white film looked good on this Blu-ray. Although you could tell the ‘night scenes’ were really shot in the day based on the shadows.
Audio (DTS HD Master Audio): Decent audio for a dull dialogue driven script.