10 August 2012

Truly Misfits or Forever Legends?

Montgomery Clift, Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable on the set of The Misfits

After having read (a couple of times too many) certain film reviewers arrogantly claiming that John Huston's "The Misfits" (1961) was an overstated, shallow movie, I decided I wanted to defend the movie. In writing. Not just because I felt personally assaulted (OK, mostly why, it being one of my favorites, after all), but also because I never understood why. Ironically, these critics or journalists or whatsoever never really left me any valid arguments for this attitude which made them appear just as shallow and trivial as their feelings towards the film were.

Still from the movie with Marilyn, Clark, Montgomery and Eli Wallach

But, but - being a child of sentimentalism and sarcasm, I often end up in too much verbal lashing or eye-rolling or some sort of gleeful behaviour when it comes down to arguing reasonably in matters of the heart (= a basic love for classics).

Luckily, I found this great post by a blogger (with way too few followers, in my opinion) who has written a terrific review of the film. Sadly, I had some trouble leaving a comment, so I thought I might as well pass it on here :)

Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift on the set of The Misfits

PS (because I couldn't help myself...of course): This movie takes my breath away every time I watch it. I could seriously see it again and again, because it always brings something new; something you didn't see or discover the first time you saw it. There are always new meanings to be put in all its layers. Perhaps some find it too layered - or even too simple - yet you can't honestly call it shallow. Clark Gable wasn't just playing the actor Clark Gable in this film, nor did Marilyn Monroe just play Marilyn Monroe or Montgomery Clift just good ol' Monty. Neither of them were overstating or pulling themselves through the film with no energy or enthusiasm. It's quite the opposite, in fact. You can actually sense you've been given something precious; something of themselves, the real William Clark, the real Norma Jean and the real Edward Montgomery whoever they might have been. The authenticism is magnetic and you can't take your eyes of their faces. Everything they do and say seem so real and meaningful that you cannot abandon them as banal characters or pitiful actors trying to make a last attempt to a comeback. Even if most of these guys tragically died right after the finish of the film, having lived a tearsome, harsh personal life in and out of the media, it's what they do - as a 'one final act' - in this film and how their vulnerabilities, strengths, experiences and failures as human beings show more than ever and come alive through the screen. A final personal gesture. An autobiographic hint. So utterly human, clear, complex and understated. And for a fan it's a sorrowful feast to get to see this. You know and they know that the end is near. Maybe they or their characters - which they bond so magically with - didn't succeed in what they wanted, but they did live, if not as themselves then as an golden image, an existing illusion worth admiring - and remembering.

Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe off camera.
Reportedly, Clark has just told Marilyn that he has become a father.

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