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The Misfits

Directed by John Huston with screenplay by Arthur Miller, starring Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Montgomery Clift, Eli Wallach and Thema Ritter, black and white, 125 minutes, 1961

Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable

Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable

By Carter B. Horsley

This "modern" Western is a poignant portrait of several, middle-aged Americans whose lives are out-of-kilter.

It is a masterpiece in the careers of director John Huston, writer Arthur Miller and actors Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Eli Wallach, and Thelma Ritter and it also contains a fine performance by Montgomery Clift.

None of the characters are heroic.  If anything, they could be almost considered has-beens, grasping for a moment of love and respect, if not honor and glory.

Its nature is meandering, wandering from one let-down to another.

These people are lost even though they are at the epicenter of America at the middle of the 20th Century: Reno, Nevada, the home of the nascent gambling industry and the country's divorce capital.

[Editor's note: I spent about 5 months there at Pyramid Lake Ranch, 32 miles north of Reno, when I was about 7 years old with my mother who was getting a divorce.  I was the highlight of my life as I attended a one-room schoolhouse for Indians, brought sling-shots from the Indians, packed a real six-shooter as I rode my horse along the shores of the lake where the Piute Indians fished for the large pre-historic qui-wee fish, was awed by the ranch owner, Harry Drackett, who shot bumble-bees out of the tops of tall trees at the ranch with his Thompson submachine gun that he let me try to shoot, unsuccessfully at a howling coyote as the gun's recoil almost made me fly, and hunted wild horses at a valley in the mountains reached by a dirt road not as wide as our jeep, attended rodeos and put people in a jail atop a flat-bed truck.  These and other adventures, such as bashing in the heads of giant bullfrogs, at the order of the ranch foreman, before they jumped out of the boiling water in large pots for breakfast, but as the bartender in "Irma La Douce" would later say "that's another story," all before Marilyn....]

If this film sounds dreary, it isn't.  It is an exhilarating and memorable foray into the raw essence of a dusty and bruised but very real humanity.

In his review of the movie at, Casey Broadwater observed May 20, 2011 that

"The Misfits has the somewhat unsettling distinction of being the last film both Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe ever completed."

Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe

Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe

"Just two days after shooting ended in the Nevada desert, the 59-year-old Gable suffered a severe heart attack—he died ten days later from coronary thrombosis—and Monroe would be dead within a year and a half from an apparent suicide. This lends a sadness and sense of weightiness to the film, which has come to be seen as strangely prophetic about the personal lives of its stars. And this makes sense; The Misfits is a deeply personal film, especially for Monroe. The platinum starlet's then-husband, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Arthur Miller, wrote the script as a kind of present for his wife—who wanted to prove she could play more than just her usual dumb blond roles—but soon after the project started shooting, their marriage began to disintegrate. Miller worked on re-writes throughout production, and many of his additions were semi-biographical, hinting at various troubles in Monroe's private life. The shoot itself was turbulent. By this point, Monroe's prescription drug use was completely out of hand, and filming had to be stopped for ten days while she went through detox in an L.A. hospital. Temperatures on location soared past 100-degrees daily, and iconic director John Huston frequently drank and gambled on set. Yet, despite the behind-the-scenes chaos,  is very nearly a masterpiece. Not quite, but nearly."

No.  It is a masterpiece, despite its existential untidiness. 

"Monroe plays Roslyn Tabor, an aimless and depressed recent divorcée who has split with her husband because 'you could touch him, but he wasn't there.' This is something of a key to her personality. Roslyn, a one-time dancer and dance instructor, is a creature of pure empathy. She feels life intensely—her life, others' lives, even the plight of animals—and she simply can't be with someone who's walled off emotionally. Immediately after her divorce, Roslyn is introduced to two 'misfit' men—and, later, a third—whose spur-of-the-moment, live-for-today lifestyle intuitively appeals to her. Gay (Clark Gable) is an aging cowboy, a remnant from a bygone era who scrapes out a meager living wrangling up and selling the few wild mustangs that still roam the northern Nevada desert. Time has passed him by, and in Roslyn he sees a chance to start over, to do right where he failed in his first marriage. In an early scene, he reaches over to embrace Roslyn, and though she replies 'I don't feel that way about you, Gay,' he remains hopeful: 'Don't get discouraged girl—you might.' Roslyn does move in with Gay, who lives in a run-down house out in the middle of the desert, and they seem to exist semi-platonically, fixing the place up, starting a garden, and joyously living day-by-day. Gay's friend, Guido (Eli Wallach), however, a bitter mechanic and former Army pilot, is also infatuated with Roslyn. 'You have the gift for life,' he tells her, 'the rest of us, we're just lookin' for a place to hide and watch it all go by.'

Montgomery Clift and Marilyn

Montgomery Clift and Marilyn Monroe

"Just when you think you're in for a standard-issue love triangle, a third man is added into the mix: Perce Howland (Montgomery Clift), a young rodeo cowboy whom Gay—a 'real' cowboy—recruits for a horse-wrangling mission. Roslyn's innate compassion kicks in when Perce is lightly injured in a bull-riding tournament, and suddenly all three men—in their own ways—are vying for the vibrant blond's affections. She's desired physically, yes, but her function in their lives seems to be as more of a spiritual lifeboat. She gives them purpose. She brings light and softness into their gruff, workaday blue-collar routines. She seems to be a psychological panacea, a hope. Seems. Her unobtainableness actually has the opposite effect, especially in Guido, who grows even more hardened. When the four are at a bar together, Guido watches in derision as Roslyn dances with the handsome Perce. 'Nothin' like being young, is there Gay?,' he snorts, and when Gay asks what's eating him, you can practically see Guido's blood boiling: 'Just my life.' All of this anger and resentment and dissatisfaction bubbles beneath the surface until the final act, a hunt for mustangs out in the desert. This hunt serves as the film's principle metaphor, pulling together Miller's themes about changing times, the difficulty of being an individualist in a largely conformist society, and the idea that infatuation in relationships nurtures delusions that are painful to dispel.

"Miller's script is emotionally perceptive and subtle in a way that few Hollywood films are, and his literary background comes through in dialogue that's frequently 'elevated,' that is, more ornate and poetic at times than the language your average cowboy drifter would actually use. This is common in literature and on the stage, but it's never been as readily accepted in film. Still, this gives the otherwise naturalistic movie a kind of mythic, Faulknerian quality—it feels larger than life, more laden with meaning.

Thelma Ritter, left, and Marilyn Monroe, right

Thelma Ritter, left, and Marilyn Monroe, right

"The real problem with the script, and the film as a whole, is that the storytelling seems disjointed in places, as if unfinished. This is most apparent in the character of Isabelle (Thelma Ritter), an older divorcée and friend of Roslyn who plays an important role in the first two thirds of the film but then disappears completely and is never mentioned again. While this and other narrative hiccups may have kept the film from being the classic it could've been, there are countless reasons why The Misfits continues to be watched today. John Huston's camerawork—with cinematographer Russell Metty—is intimate and brisk, and it feels influenced by the rapidly changing style of European cinema at the time, even while being distinctly American. And then there's the brilliant cast. Aside from his untoppable turn in Gone With the Wind, Clark Gable is at his career best in The Misfits—lonesome, grandfatherly, and unexpectedly tender. Eli Wallach seethes—sometimes cartoonishly, but always convincing—and Montgomery Clift is perfect as the sensitive young bullrider. But this is Marilyn's film. Her last. She gives an enigmatic performance that somewhat uneven, but always luminescent. In an interview after her death, John Huston explained what we were seeing onscreen: 'She had no techniques. It was all the truth. It was only Marilyn.'"

In his February 20, 1961 review for The New Republic, Stanley Hofmann wrote that "John Huston's direction is his best in years, well-knit and hard, at times even recalling The Treasure of Sierra Madre. Too bad that his camera occasionally peers lubriciously down the girl's bodice or elsewhere to remind us that Roslyn is really Marilyn Monroe....

"In his last film Clark Gable has his best part since Rhett Butler and demonstrates why, although he was a transparently mechanical actor, he was a world-bestriding star. He radiates likeable, decent-roguish masculinity.

Eli Wakkach dancing with Marilyn

Eli Wallach dancing with Marilyn

"Eli Wallach, as Guido the ex-Army pilot, sounds less bronco-hunter than Bronx. There is something vulgar in this gifted actor's reliance on vulgarity as a metier. Montgomery Clift, who was last seen as a Westerner (unconvincingly) in Red River, here brings moving life to Perce, the battered young exile, who has nothing to live on but his willingness to get thrown off bucking horses.

In his February 2, 1961 review for The New York Times, Bosley Crother wrote that "There is this to be said for the people that Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, et al, play in John Huston's new film, "The Misfits," which came to the Capitol yesterday: they are not what you might call status seekers or organization men. They are simply lowdown variations of the old-fashioned genus tramp.They are nice tramps, it's true—chummy fellows and equally chummy girls, cowboys, garage mechanics and assorted divorcées, who happen to gravitate together in Reno, Nev., that toddling town, and soak up a little whisky before taking off to catch some mustangs in the hills. They are scatterbrained, whimsical, lonely and, in the case of the character of Miss Monroe, inclined to adore all living creatures and have a quivering revulsion to pain.

"They are amusing people to be with, for a little while, anyhow. But they are shallow and inconsequential, and that is the dang-busted trouble with this film.  Right at the start, Arthur Miller, who wrote the original script, drops a hint on what is coming and the line that the film is going to take. 'Cowboys,' he has a jolly woman, played by Thelma Ritter, say, 'are the last real men in the world, but they're as reliable as jackrabbits.' And that's it. Everyone in this film is unreliable, wild, slightly kookie....Mr. Gable is a leathery old cowboy with a realistic slant on most plain things, but even he has to go a little nutty and sentimental at the end. Eli Wallach as a rolling-stone mechanic is a bundle of impulses and appetites, sometimes very funny, sometimes repulsive and sad. Montgomery Clift as a vagrant rodeo rider is as slug-nutty as they come, equally, cavalier toward injuries and toward his gnawing loneliness for his Mom. And Miss Monroe—well, she is completely blank and unfathomable as a new divorcée who shed her husband because 'you could touch him but he wasn't there.'

"Unfortunately for the film's structure, everything turns upon her—the congregation of the fellows, like a pack of dogs, the buildup of cross-purposed courtships and the sentimental backflip at the end. But there is really not much about her that is very exciting or interesting. Mr. Miller makes a pass at explanation. He has someone tell her: "When you smile, it's like the sun coming up."Toward the end, something happens. The three fellows go into the hills to catch wild horses to sell for dog meat, and the divorcée goes along. The wrangling is vivid and thrilling and everyone is having a good time, until the woman discovers what the horses are being captured for. Then she kicks up such a ruckus—and Mr. Huston lets his cameras show so much of the pitiful plight of the creatures—that the screen is full of shock and the audience is left in breathless horror until she persuades Mr. Gable to let the horses go.

"It has something to do with her sense of freedom. What, we wouldn't know. So that's what's wrong with this picture. Characters and theme do not congeal. There is a lot of absorbing detail in it, but it doesn't add up to a point. Mr. Huston's direction is dynamic, inventive and colorful. Mr. Gable is ironically vital. (He died a few weèks after shooting was done.)....But the picture just doesn't come off."

Crowther was not known as a perceptive Times critic....

In his review at, Mr. Winnert wrote that Huston's and Miller's "modern-day Western is brilliantly strange and striking. It focuses on the lives of a quartet of loveable losers (‘the misfits’), who embark on a chase for symbolic horses against a background of the dying West.

They turn out to be among the screen’s most memorable characters: an over-the-hill Nevada cowboy (Clark Gable) perhaps inappropriately called Gay Langland, his old Hispanic sidekick Guido (Eli Wallach), a sexy blonde just-divorced ex-stripper named Roslyn Taber (Marilyn Monroe) and the damaged rodeo drifter Perce Howland (Montgomery Clift).

After Roslyn divorces Ray (Kevin McCarthy) in a shotgun divorce in Reno, she and her older, sassier confidante Isabelle Steers (Thelma Ritter) meet widower Guido, who introduces her to Gay and they all move out to the country to Guido’s uncompleted house. There Roslyn tentatively begins to build a home with Gay, and they start to fall in love.

Guido returns, and takes Roslyn and Gay on a road trip to round up wild mustangs (also ‘the misfits’). They pick up rodeo-rocked bull-rider Perce to serve as an extra pair of hands. But when Roslyn learns that Gay, Guido and Perce are going after the wild horses to sell them to turn them into dog food, she’s mighty upset and kicks up big time. Finally, Roslyn’s simple-minded good nature forces the men to confront their failures and outmoded lifestyle.

Monroe, who was married to the author who loomed on set all the time, was apparently in the grip of despair during filming, and caused endless delays in the shooting and couldn’t remember her lines. Somehow none of this shows on screen, in her miraculous, seamless-seeming performance, her best ever.

Gable allegedly precipitated his fatal heart attack a week before filming ended by performing his own stunts. And a gay, alcoholic Clift was haunted by his near-fatal car crash and his troubles with his sexuality, not helped by Huston’s macho attitudes.

But it’s life’s haunting ghosts that now give the movie its unique, melancholic allure. The gloomy performances rivet the gaze, particularly that of Gable, who really is truly remarkable in his old age here....Even in this extraordinary company Wallach and Ritter effortlessly more than hold their own in the most striking of performances. Once again, Wallach may not be very Hispanic but he is very good....

Marilyn demonstrates her remarkable body english batting a ball on a rubber band

Marilyn's remarkable body english batting a ball with her paddle surrounded by admirers

In a long essay at, Frank Miller provides the following excellent commentary about the film:

"Although it was a financial failure on its initial release, The Misfits has acquired a special glamour as the last film completed by its two stars, Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe. Gable died within weeks of completing the picture, while Monroe died only a year and a half after its release. In addition, Montgomery Clift died five years later. As a result, it is frequently shown in retrospectives and excerpted in documentaries focusing on its stars and has become a television perennial. 

"The Misfits was a pioneering work in the development of the American Western. It was a more contemporary take on the genre and reflected a bleaker outlook than the simple moral world of the traditional Western. As Miller would write, 'Westerns and the West have always been built on a morally balanced world where evil has a recognizable tab -- the black hats -- and evil always loses out in the end. This is that same world, but it's been dragged out of the nineteenth century into today, when the good guy is also part of the problem.'

"The film's depiction of idealistic losers fits in with director John Huston's key themes, making it an important work in his development as an auteur. In particular it parallels his earlier Western The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) and the crime film The Asphalt Jungle (1950), which helped make Monroe a star.

"The Misfits was one of the first features packaged by a Hollywood agency. Agent George Chasin represented writer Arthur Miller, Monroe, Gable and producer Frank Taylor.

"The Misfits was the first film Huston had shot in the U.S. in over a decade (the previous one was The Red Badge of Courage in 1951), reflecting a deepening in his vision of American life....

"Because of his success in The Misfits, Montgomery Clift won the leading role in director John Huston's next film, Freud (1962). The results were disastrous. The two fell out, partly over Clift's insecurities and partly because he had brought a boyfriend with him for a stay at Huston's Irish estate. After that, Huston browbeat him mercilessly throughout the production.

"Huston also wanted to cast Marilyn Monroe in Freud as the patient whose treatment helped the famed psychoanalyst frame his ideas about infant sexuality. Horrified at The Misfits' financial failure, 20th Century-Fox president Spyros Skouras refused to loan her to Huston for the film, and the role went to Susannah York.

"Although a critical and box office failure on its initial release, The Misfits has developed a strong following among younger critics and audiences captivated by the glamour of Clark Gable, Monroe and Clift. Genre critics in particular have praised the film as a new take on the Western, with its creation of an insular society of losers (a common theme in Huston's work) brought together by their displacement from contemporary American society....

"At the beginning of production, Marilyn Monroe's entourage consisted of husband Arthur Miller, her press agent, her acting coach, two hairdressers, a make-up man, a seamstress, a body cosmetician, her stand-in, a masseur, a secretary, a wardrobe girl and her personal secretary. Clark Gable, on the other hand, only had one assistant, his friend Lew Smith, who was billed as 'dialogue coach.'

"During a press conference for The Misfits, a reporter asked Monroe what she wore to bed at night. She quipped, "Chanel Number Five!"...

"The idea for The Misfits originated when playwright Arthur Miller was forced to live in Reno, Nevada, for six weeks to establish residency so he could divorce his first wife, Mary Grace Slattery, and marry Marilyn Monroe. While there, he met a group of modern-day cowboys who supported themselves by catching wild horses to sell to dog food companies. The parallel between the two endangered species -- the cowboys and the horses -- inspired a short story called 'The Misfits' that he sold to Esquire Magazine. 

"Wanting to make a film with new wife Monroe, he expanded the story into what he called a 'cinematic novel,' focusing on a divorce who had been only a tangential character in the original story. He sent the novelization to director John Huston, who pronounced it 'magnificent' and brought Miller to his Irish estate to work on the screenplay.

"Monroe and Huston would receive the same fee for The Misfits - $300,000. Huston also got a $50,000 gambling allowance for the location shoot in Nevada.

"Miller enlisted his friend Frank Taylor, editorial director of Dell Books, to produce the film.

"Taylor and Miller first offered The Misfits to 20th Century-Fox, where Monroe was still under contract. Studio president Spyros Skouras considered it too highbrow but got his cousin, Max Youngstein, to bankroll it through his Seven Arts Productions, then distribute it through United Artists.

"Huston's first choice to play aging cowboy Gay Langland was Robert Mitchum, whom he had directed in Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957). When he read the script, however, Mitchum didn't understand it at all. Having endured Huston's lack of concern for his actors' comfort or safety on the earlier film, he feared the horse-roping scenes would be more than he wanted to go through....

"Against the advice of his friends, who thought the role too physically demanding and a bad fit for the actor, Gable agreed to do the film. One of his friends suggested the reason he did the movie was the paycheck. At $750,000 and ten percent of the gross, it was more than he had ever been offered for a film. In addition, Gable was planning to make only two more films before retiring, and he wanted one of them to be a great film. He sincerely hoped that The Misfits would be that film.

"Gable insisted on some strict provisions in his contract. Not one line of the script could be changed without his approval. He worked a nine-to-five day and if the film went over schedule, he would be paid an additional $48,000 a week....

"Many who knew of Miller's friendship with Montgomery Clift thought the playwright had written the role of broken-down rodeo rider Perce Howland with the actor in mind. In particular, the character's phone call to his mother, in which he warns her that she won't recognize him after an accident in the rodeo, bore an eerie similarity to the change in the actor's life after a near-fatal auto accident during the shooting of Raintree County (1957) destroyed his famously handsome face.

"Clift had some doubts about the script and sent it to his friend, comic actress Nancy Walker, who told him he had to do it....

"Gable was leery of the film's New York actors -- Clift, Eli Wallach and Kevin McCarthy -- who were known for their 'Method acting.' They, in turn, weren't sure what to expect from a legendary movie star like Gable. Taylor's wife, Nan, broke the ice for them by throwing a dinner party for the cast shortly before location shooting started. The New York actors arrived first and made some disparaging comments about their leading man. Then Gable and his wife arrived, deliberately late (the actor was noted for his punctuality). After making a grand entrance, he held court, but also impressed the rest of the cast with his appreciation of the script. He also expressed interest in Clift's working methods. When Clift asked him how he approached a role, Gable replied, 'I bring to it everything I have been, everything I am, and everything I hope to be.' That won the Method actors over.

"As Miller developed his script, he added details from Monroe's past and their lives together. When her character prepares for her divorce hearing, the lines are lifted from the divorce plea she had filed against second husband Joe DiMaggio. To make matters worse, however, the script began to reflect Miller's growing disenchantment with his wife, with scenes and lines that depicted the character's neediness and insecurity....

"Monroe was terrified at the thought of working with Clark Gable. As a child growing up in foster homes and with her single mother, she had slept with Gable's picture under her pillow and fantasized that he was her father. The night before their first scene together, she couldn't sleep without a large dose of Nembutal. As a result, she was two hours late getting to the set. When she apologized to Gable, he simply said, 'You're not late, honey,' and led her aside to talk. Throughout the filming, he treated her with the same courtesy.

"Gable was equally solicitous of Montgomery Clift and so impressed with his talents that he showed up to watch him work even when he himself wasn't called for the day.

"The one cast member Gable never warmed to was Eli Wallach. They were so uncomfortable with each other that at first they had trouble remembering lines in their scenes together. Eventually, they developed a grudging respect....

"During filming, Monroe's marriage to Arthur Miller fell apart, partly because of disagreements over the script and her feelings of betrayal over how he had written her character. She also felt he had turned Huston against her, leading him to treat her like an idiot. Within a few weeks of the production's start, they were staying in separate suites. They had stopped speaking by August, with Monroe's acting coach, Paula Strasberg, serving as intercessor. In addition, Miller had begun seeing photographer Inge Morath, who was documenting the production and would become his third wife. 

"Monroe's sole romantic comfort during the first weeks of filming was her affair with Yves Montand, her co-star in Let's Make Love.

"As shooting progressed, Monroe became increasingly dependent upon pills. She had prescriptions flown in every other day by her Los Angeles doctors and received additional medication from local doctors. She was taking three times the normal dosage of the sleeping aid Nembutal. The pills left her disoriented, unsteady on her feet and incoherent. They also led to wild mood swings and rashes. 

"Like Monroe, Clift had a problem with medication as well, having become dependent upon painkillers and other pills after his automobile accident. Many on the film were concerned about his ability to perform the role, particularly since the first scene he was scheduled to shoot was a long telephone scene in which he calls his mother on a pay phone as the other characters --played by Monroe, Gable, Wallach and Thelma Ritter -- watch in the background. Clift described the shot as an 'audition in front of the gods and goddesses of the performing arts,' but he pulled it off in one take.

"Huston insisted on using real wild horses for the rodeo scene. The horse Clift had to ride was too wild for the actor, but Huston insisted that he sit on it in the bullpen chute for a close-up. When the horse lost control it threw Clift against the side of the chute, ripping his shirt. That was the take Huston used in the film....
A defiant mustang

A nobly defiant mustang

"Gable could have refused to do any of the stunts for The Misfits, but insisted on doing all but the most dangerous shots. He even allowed himself to be dragged behind a truck for 400 feet over the desert floor and chased the truck for repeated takes....

"Arthur Miller couldn't have been further from the truth when he wrote those words during the early days of bringing The Misfits (1961) to the screen.The tortured production -- once a classic flop, now considered a minorclassic -- marked the last completed film for both of its stars, Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable. And the debate continues as to whether the film led to Gable's death from a heart attack at the still-young age of 59.

"The Misfits began life as a 1957 short story in which Miller combined his memories of the modern-day cowboys he met while in Reno to divorce his first wife and his feelings about his second wife, Monroe, who initially struck him as a pure creature intimately connected to the spirit of life. In search of a project that would allow the newlyweds to work together, they pitched a film version to United Artists. They offered the script to director John Huston, who accepted with a one-word cable, 'Magnificent.' Huston wanted Robert Mitchum to star as the washed-out cowboy who becomes involved with a sensitive divorcee in Reno and takes her along on a job to catch wild horses for a dog food company. Unfortunately, Mitchum considered the script incomprehensible and dodged Huston's phonecalls until Clark Gable was cast. When he finally spoke to the director, he warned him about Gable's age and health: 'You get him at the end of arope, fighting those horses, and that's going to be the end of him.'

"The damage may have been done before the horses even entered the picture, however. Because of Monroe's commitment to make the musical Let's Make Love (1960), production couldn't start until July 1960, when the Nevada locations were baked by temperatures climbing to 120 degrees each day. Delays caused by Monroe's habitual lateness didn't help either. Because ofher sleeping problems, Monroe rarely was called before 11 a.m., and usually showed up later than that. In her defense, however, she also had to stay up intothe small hours trying to learn Miller's many script changes while trying to deal with the effects of her numerous pain and sleeping medications. Though he often resented her lateness, Gable went out of his way to help her through the shoot, enduring retakes while she tried to focus on the lines and praising her work at every opportunity.

"Compounding Monroe's problems was the fact that the film, conceived while she and Miller were still in the full flush of first love, was filmed as their marriage was falling apart. During shooting, she moved out of their shared hotel room to stay with her acting coach, Paula Strasberg. Moreover, she was heartbroken that a role she had seen as her chance to prove that she could play something other than 'Marilyn Monroe' was being re-written to include embarrassing elements from her personal life, including references to her mother's mental problems and the failure of her marriage to baseball legend Joe DiMaggio. Even Gable's casting contributed to the autobiographical elements of the film. Miller knew she had idolized 'The King' during her childhood, often fantasizing that he was her father.

"Huston played his own part in the production problems. He was already developing emphysema after decades of heavy smoking, and several days were lost when he was too sick to work. And location shooting in the only U.S.state with legal gambling was a huge mistake for him; he was usually up in the casinos until five in the morning and kept falling asleep in the director's chair during filming. United Artists had given him a gambling allowance. When his losses exceeded that, he had to shut down production for a week to find the money. So he convinced Monroe's psychiatrist and doctor to put her in a Los Angeles hospital for a week to deal with her drug dependency, thereby making her bear the blame for the production shutdown he had caused.

"The most grueling scenes in the film were those near the end in which Gableand two other cowboys (Montgomery Clift and Eli Wallach) capture wild horses in the desert and break their leader. Rumors at the time suggested that the scenes trying to hold back the lead horse contributed to Gable'sheart problems, but a close study of the film reveals that most of these were done through careful cutting. Gable is rarely in the same shot as the horse. He did, however, have to shoot a scene in which the horse drags him across the desert floor. He was actually holding a rope attached to a truck, with the camera in the bed. But even though he was heavily padded, he came home from the day's shooting a bloody mess. He tried to lie to hiswife that it had just been an accident, but she knew better, telling him he was out of his mind.

"The film finished shooting with studio work in Hollywood, but Gable was already too sick to attend the wrap party on November 4. He suffered aheart attack on the sixth and died ten days later. In a sorrowful interview, Monroe wondered if she'd contributed to his ill health, while gossip columnist Hedda Hopper blamed it on Huston. Few at the time even considered his three-pack-a-day smoking habit or his grief over the death of good friend Ward Bond just days earlier.

"Since Huston had shot in sequence and cut the film as they went along, Gable had already seen his performance before he took ill and felt it was his best acting ever. With his death, United Artists tried to get the film completed in time for the 1960 Academy Awards®, hoping he would snare a posthumous nomination. But when composer Alex North protested that he couldn't possibly get the picture scored that quickly, Huston had to agree.The release was pushed back to a more reasonable February 1 date, when it fared poorly with critics and audiences. Over time, however, the film has gained a special luster, particularly when Monroe died two years later without having finished another picture. Today, The Misfits is considered a minor classic, with special interest as an example of the loss of traditional values in the modern Western, as one of Huston's trademark celebrations of a team of charismatic losers and as the last film from two of Hollywood's greatest stars."

This film ranks 75th in Carter B. Horsley's Top 500 Sound Films

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