Our October Halloween break is over, and the bounty that is November is now upon us. This Friday, November 6, 2009, we are excited about screening a cinema classic, THE MISFITS (1961). It was directed by the grizzled veteran genius, John Huston, who gave us the legacy of 47 films over his 50 year career. He won two Oscars for his TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (1948), and was nominated for nine more in his long creative process. He enjoyed acting too, appearing in 51 films, many of them his own; who can forget his Noah Cross in CHINATOWN (1974)? He appeared unbilled in THE MISFITS as one of the blackjack players in the tavern scene. He was also a successful writer giving us JEZEBEL (1938), SERGEANT YORK (1941), and THE KILLERS (1946). His directorial hits are too numerous to mention. Some of my favorites beyond MALTESE FALCON, SIERRA MADRE, KEY LARGO, and AFRICAN QUEEN included PRIZZI’S HONOR (1987), FAT CITY (1972), REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE (1967), THE UNFORGIVEN (1960), HEAVEN KNOWS, MISTER ALLISON (1957), MOBY DICK (1956), and THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE (1951).
Arthur Miller wrote the screenplay for MISFITS. This Pulitzer Prize winner, once labled, “America’s greatest living playwright,” after the death of Tennessee Williams, was perhaps best known for his 1956 marriage to movie star Marilyn Monroe, giving him unsolicited limelight. He wrote THE MISFITS as a belated valentine to Monroe, who had just suffered a miscarriage. He based much of it on his own Reno divorce, gone through in order to marry her. It gave Monroe the showcase she never had previously, but she never believed in it, finding the role too close to her self to be comfortable with; even so it gave us the solitary glimpse into the dramatic potential she may have had. Eli Kazan, in his autobiography “ A LIFE”, wrote that he could not understand the marriage. Monroe, who had slept with Kazan on a casual basis, as she had with many other Hollywood players, was the type of woman a man took as a mistress, not a wife.
Alex North gave us the musical score for the film, music that for me was dramatically pitch-perfect; haunting, lonely, rife with outsider riffs, yet with a spark of hope as a vibrant and viable undertone. He had composed 75 film scores in his 60 year career, working on several of John Huston’s movies. Some of my favorites were A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRED (1951), VIVA ZAPATA (1952), THE RAINMAKER (1956), THE WONDERFUL COUNTRY (1959), SPARTACUS (1960), CLEOPATRA (1963), WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF (1966). Nominated for 15 Oscars, he never won one until they gave him an Honorary Award in 1986.
The cinematography was done by veteran Russell Metty, who lensed 163 films over his 50 year career. He was renown for his black and white photography, having worked with Orson Welles on THE STRANGER (1946), and TOUCH OF EVIL (1958). Ironically, THE MISFITS was the last film he would shoot in B&W. His only Oscar was given the year before on SPARTACUS (1960), a color film on which his sparring matches with director Stanley Kubrick were things of legend.
THE MISFITS (1961) Directed by John Huston @ 120 minutes.
The film stars: Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift, Eli Wallach, Thelma Ritter, Kevin McCarthy, James Barton, and Estelle Winwood. Synopsis: An overlooked cinematic gem, this film needs to be seen by all serious cinephiles. It is a powerful, probing, exciting drama full of honesty, integrity, and sheer poetic brilliance. Divorced, beautiful but disillusioned, a woman befriends a group of misfits in Reno, and experiences her first real taste of freedom, exhilaration, and love—but her innocent idealism soon clashes with their hard-edged practicality. In VARIETY it was written, “THE MISFITS is a robust, high-voltage adventure drama, vibrating with explosively emotional histrionics, conceived and executed with a refreshing disdain for superficial and technical slickness in favor of an uncommon honest and direct cinematic approach.” Tagline: “SMASHING through the excitement barrier! It shouts and sings with life!”.
Don Jardine wrote, “It is a deconstruction of the Wild West’s mythos, as well as a study of the lingering death of the American dream.”
From CRAZY 4 CINEMA we read, “THE MISFITS is an emotional roller coaster ride that will have you glued to the screen praying that these two people will be able to weather the storm and come out happy on the other side.”
Christopher Null from FILMCRITICS.COM wrote, “This film was a tragic conclusion to two celebrated lives, which makes the ending even more memorable.”
Gay: Honey, we all got to go sometime, reason or no reason. Dyin’s as natural as livin’. The man who’s too afraid to die is too afraid to live. I just need to find another way to feel alive, that’s all.
So come and join us this Friday, November 6, 2009 at the Center For Spiritual Learning, located at 206 North J Street, on the prominent corner of Division and J streets in Tacoma, and watch THE MISFITS (1961). Regular attendees can follow the drill, and newcomers are welcome to come early and mingle with many of us who gather downstairs in the kitchen area for socialization and fellowship. The Phantom Director and Farishta will have prepared a terrific entre to share with us. If you want to bring along some other goodies, like bread, cheese, desserts, and wine, and many gobbles will be grateful. There will be a raffle for those moved to participate, with that cash prize consisting of 40% of the gathered funds, and a cool DVD as second prize. The will be a short film showing promptly at 7pm, with THE MISFITS screening afterwards. The raffle results and my introduction will be the short intermission. See you at the movies!