Monday, February 13, 2017

The Misfits

The Misfits is a notable film by the virtue of the casting alone. It contains the final performances of Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, and one of the final performances of Montgomery Clift. The film itself is a curious thing though. It's written by Arthur Miller, a writer who never minded to allow his themes to wag the dog of the story. Miller's work is often easier to describe in terms of what it means than what happens in the story. Here its message is worn on the title of the misfits as we spend time with a group of ill-fitting people, who are ill-fitting to society, who in the end round up mustangs who are ill-fitting horses. John Huston attempts to grant some reality to the theoretical through his direction, yet he never discourages the broader elements of the screenplay. The cast is strong enough to ensure some real humanity to the proceedings, and manages to be more than mere representations for the most part. There are certain moments that are genuinely moving particularly Eli Wallach's Guido discussing his losses, or Clift's cowboy making a distressing call home. They are moments not within the cohesive film which is a mess of attempted thematic gravitas overrides giving a compelling story to begin with. The film particularly falters as it becomes even more outrageous, partially because of how over the top the character of Rosalyn is written, and almost falls of the rails in sheer histrionics. It's a difficult piece that is of interest, but doesn't actually succeed in crafting a compelling narrative.

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