The Misfits review – Gable and Monroe’s uneasy swansong

Marilyn Monroe in the 1953 film Niagara

“If I’m going to be alone, I want to be by myself.”

This reissue of what became the last film for both Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe (Something’s Got to Give was unfinished) looks even starker and more jarringly isolated today than it did in 1961. Monroe plays the newly divorced waif who meets up with Gable’s grizzled cowboy in Reno.

Together, they head off to a ramshackle Nevada cabin to “just live” for a while, teaming up with Montgomery Clift’s damaged rodeo rider who accompanies them on the film’s almost unbearably bleak mustang round-up. The shoot was troubled; Monroe and Clift seem to be falling apart before our very eyes, John Huston directs through a fog of bitterness and booze, and Arthur Miller’s script reeks of estrangement and misunderstanding – both literal and literary. On the last night of his life, Clift was asked if he wanted to watch The Misfits on TV. His reply? “Absolutely not!”

Powered by article was written by Mark Kermode, for The Observer on Sunday 14th June 2015 08.00 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010