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Misfits, The (reissue)


Stars: Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift, Eli Wallach, Thelma Ritter, Kevin McCarthy, James Barton, Estelle Winwood

Director: John Huston

A tremendous farewell performance by Gable in his last film highlights Huston's elegiac modern western with Gable, Clift and Wallach as ageing cowboys reduced to hunting and taming wild mustangs in Nevada simply because they can be turned into dog food.

This horrifies divorcee Monroe who has fallen in with them.

Although the film is now slightly dated and uncomfortable to be with, in light of the fact that Gable's doing strenuous stunts may have led to his fatal heart attack, it's still an unforgettable experience. Arthur Miller's dialogue hits one emotional bullseye after another, giving the stars a chance to show their full emotional range.

Monroe, whose last film this also was, is also really good in her most heartfelt performance outside Bus Stop. If only all of her dialogue had been intelligible, this might well have won her an Oscar nomination.

Clift would soon join his co-stars in death, but his is a quiet and thoughtful performance here, leaving the eye-catching stuff to the Method-style acting of Wallach, who shines with Monroe in the scene in a truck where he offers to try to save some of the wild horses if she will give up Gable for him.

The black and white cjinematography of Russell Metty, more used to working (brilliantly) in colour, really captures the nostalgic feeling of an age passing the characters by, and it's only Huston's direction - a little halting at times - that lags slightly behind all other departments in this gripping and moving film with a throat-clutching ending.

David Quinlan

USA 1960. UK Distributor: Park Circus (originally United Artists). Black and white.
124 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 12 Jun 2015