The final film in my Seven Days of Marilyn Monroe series and in the Forever Marilyn: Blue Ray Collection is The Misfits. Though it is in black and white, the fantastic artwork on the disk makes up for that. It makes the set truly collectable, along with the artwork on Some Like It Hot. The screenplay for this film was written by the amazingly talented Arthur Miller. He and John Huston managed to take a story with little action and drama and make it a fantastic film. They really managed to bring out some of the best, most honest performances I’ve seen from Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable. This film has meat; some serious substance and heart. Marilyn as Roslyn Tabers is devoid of the usual glitz and glamour and phoniness that comes along with a large number of her characters. Roslyn is deeper, lonely and reflective after a divorce in Reno to a man who was absent most of the time. Monroe seems vulnerable and innocent, but not dumb.
Roslyn meets Mechanic Guido (Eli Wallach) and cowboy Gay Langland (Clark Gable) who invite Roslyn and her friend Isabelle Steers (Thelma Ritter) to Guido’s home that he built for his wife. It’s never been completed as his wife passed away in childbirth. Initially Guido is the one who is interested in Roslyn and he puts a lot of pressure on and hope in the newly divorced woman, letting her know he hasn’t been interested anyone else since his wife’s death until his interest in her. Shortly after the trip, Gay puts the moves on Roslyn when he gets her alone in the car, but she makes it clear she isn’t interested in him that way. This statement is short-live as the two quickly set up a home together at Guido’s unfinished house. Gable strikes me as a bit “creepy old man” in this film, I mean, as much as Clark Gable could be such a thing.
It’s not just Monroe who is down to earth in this performance. The entire cast are down in it as a real people, no caricatures or over the top performances to be had. Just real people with real problems and real stories, depth and humanity. Their relationships are simple, not overly complicated or ridiculous. It sounds like it would be something of a boring premise, no glitz and glamour as was the fashion, no ridiculous comedy or mobsters, but as is proven over and over again, the most relateable stories and characters can be some of the most entertaining. No doubt Miller and Huston knew exactly what they were doing.
About halfway through the film, in walks Montgomery Clift as Perce Howland. It seems that seeing a younger cowboy turns Roslyn’s head away from Gay pretty quickly. Roslyn is completely smitten, literally can’t keep her eyes off him. Roslyn says she did “interpretive” dancing when she used to dance in clubs, which is definitely an interesting way to put it. Perce seems just as full of life and youth as Roslyn, Gay seems to be no match.
When Isabelle runs into her ex husband and his new wife, she leaves the happy crew as they are at the rodeo and about to go “mustanging” or rounding up wild horses, so they can all spend a week together. Roslyn is left as the only woman among the wild men, upset at the way they treat the horses to get them riled up. for the rodeo. When Perce is hurt, Marilyn seems a little overly concerned. She’s not of a strong enough constitution to handle hanging out with rough and tumble cowboys. This was real rodeoing before back braces and helmets and Roslyn’s concern continues when Perce is injured a second time. The boys are truly boys, just wanting to go have a good time after a close call or two. Guido is jealous of Perce and lets Roslyn know. Both men are aware of the threat posed by Perce and Roslyn seems to have no real idea of the turmoil she is about to cause.
Roslyn won’t deny or confirm that she belongs with Gay. The men are all attracted to her innocence, the irony being they are all going to be part of the reason she loses it. Gay is wasted and takes Roslyn to meet his kids, who aren’t much younger than she. When he finds they are no longer at the bar he has a complete breakdown in the street. Gable as the drunk desperate father is a heartwrenching performance. Roslyn turns into caregiver for all of the men, they pin all their hopes on her and break her down little by little, stealing her innocence and joy, dousing her with their pain and desperation.
After everyone makes it back from the rodeo and seem to all be losing it as they are all wasted, not to mention wounded. We are made privy to Roslyn’s daddy issues, though we were probably already aware of them with her relationship to the older Gay. She feels trapped. After their horrendous night out everyone decides to go out mustanging. Roslyn tags along despite some misgivings and puts an unintentional test to the three men when she discovers what will happen with the horses that are caught. I’ll be honest and tell you these scenes were hard for me to watch as an animal lover as well. Just the manner in which they capture the horses would have been enough to turn me off of all these guys.
Gay isn’t willing to let the horses go and upsets Roslyn terribly, she in turn offers him money and insults him. Guido tries to bargain with Roslyn for the horse’s lives by telling her if she’ll be with him he will let them go. Roslyn doesn’t pull any punches with him, letting him know what she thinks of him and his intentions. Perce seems to have the truest intentions, offering to let the horses go just because she wants them to be let go and being concerned for her wellbeing when no one else seemed to be. Even when she declines his offer, he lets them go for her, whichI thought was sure to prove him as the one who was right for Roslyn, but it can’t be that simple.
The symbolism is rampant in the final scenes of the movie. Roslyn wants the horses to run free just as she wants to be. Gay has to prove a point and captures one of the horses on his own, dominating the animal, breaking it of it’s will, just as he is doing to Roslyn. He lets the horse go in the end, wanting it to be his own decision and no one else’s. Roslyn rides back to the house with Gay, planning their future together on the way. Those daddy issues run deep.
I really felt strongly about everyone in this film, one way or another. All the characters are strong and self-posessed. The actors executed their pieces of the story brilliantly and left me wondering where they would all go at the end of the film. I was sorely disappointed that Perce and Roslyn didn’t ride off into the sunset together, but that would have been too clean and would not have left me with such an emotional attachment to the ending. The story lines were well developed and the ending was frantic and suspenseful. Fantastic film all around.
As for the Forever Marilyn collection, I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I would recommend it not just to Marilyn fans, but to classic film fans. I would like to have seen more extras and special features, though the collection of interviews and commentary on Some Like It Hot were fantastic. The five remastered films were stunning in color and definition. It really was like watching a different version of these beloved films. Marilyn has never looked better. But even the two films that were still in black and white were wonderful and Marilyn, as always is breathtaking in any format.
To read the rest of my reviews from Forever Marilyn: The Blu-Ray Collection click here. Which of the seven films that I’ve reviewed this past week is your favortie? Share in the comments!