|Misfits, The (1961)|
|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Monday, 16 May 2011|
“The Misfits” is probably best known for the fact that it is the last film completed by Marilyn Monroe and the last film ever by Clark Gable, who died shortly after filming finished. Monroe’s death occurred roughly two years after the completion of the film, but with her health on the decline even during the production of “The Misfits.”
For me, the film keeps women at bay, always trying to keep her in her “place,” which is apparently as a house servant. There are numerous underlying thematic elements in this film, but for me they all get buried by man’s motives for women at the time. Monroe is never able to be who she really is because man wrote the script to keep her from truly being an individual, which is what this film is primarily about.
“The Misfits” stars Marilyn Monroe as Roslyn, a recently divorced woman who is having difficulty deciding on where or what she should do. Clark Gable is Gay, an un-accepting worn out cowboy. Montgomery Clift is Perce, a rodeo-rider. Eli Wallach is Guido, a lonely ex-mechanic. This group creates the misfits of the film. Each has their own individualistic notions, and all their ideals conflict with one another. While it is clear that each of these individuals need to go their own way, they remain together and continue to fight with each other.
Monroe and Gable have an absurd romance in the film. Roslyn is free-spirited and has a love for innocence. Don’t try to do something dangerous, attempt to hunt or do anything that might upset her naïve personality. Still, Monroe has the most interesting character on screen. Likely it is because she is that one actress in Hollywood history that has an irresistible draw in whatever she does.
One of my biggest issues with the film is why Roslyn stays with Gay. Let’s face it. Today, she would have split in a heartbeat. Gay is sweet one moment and then is ready to smack her the next. This off and on personality continues several times throughout the film. Yet she always lets it go and continues to be with him. She promised herself that she would never again put herself in a relationship with a man that did not respect her or be there for her. Yet, she attaches herself to the first man who steps into her life.
Aside from a brain-injured Perce, both Guido and Gay only simply want to physically have Roslyn as a trophy, nothing more. Any underlying romance that one or the other feels for Roslyn is lost. The film wants to be about constant change, innocence and individual idealism. However, all of this is overshadowed by the lust of men for Roslyn. The film would have been much better off had it not highlighted the sensuality of Monroe and focused on the thematic elements of the film.
This is of course all just a matter of opinion. I respect the film for all the trials and tribulations that it incurred in its making. I respect what it was trying to accomplish. However, I just feel that its main purposes were lost to lesser elements.
“The Misfits” is a 1961 film presented here on Blu-ray in Black and White with a 1.66:1 aspect ratio. Note: many modern HDTVs will automatically crop or stretch the 1.66:1 aspect ratio to completely fill the 1.78:1 aspect ratio of an HDTV. True 1.66:1 will result in black bars down the left/right sides of the image. “The Misfits” has received a tremendous boost in video quality compared to its DVD predecessors. Still, the film was not given as much love and attention as other classics such as “All About Eve.” As a black and white image and a film of its age, it is hard to really criticize its quality. Seeing it on Blu-ray is better than its original theatrical quality. Contrast is generally decent. Sharpness fluctuates a bit throughout the film, particularly within a specific sequence. Still, the image is quite pleasingly. The noise level is fairly consistent, though are a few shots that burst out with noise. There is plenty of banding, which may drive many viewers nuts. Some of this could have been abated by a better restoration job. Other video issues are simply a result of the age of the film and the original production. True fans of the film may be a bit disappointed, but overall this is still a worthy upgrade.
The audio quality has been given no attention whatsoever. The Blu-ray contains a DTS-HD MA Mono audio track, which plays over the front left/right speakers, not the center. I am fine with the original audio track. I certainly did not need a 5.1 remix. However, the restoration job of this audio track seems to be nill. It seems to have come to us in a lossless state from a previous DVD release. The dynamics range is zero and the RMS power of the audio track is mastered too low. Wait for the MGM lion logo to pass and then turn your theater’s volume up by about 10 decibels. The noise inherent on the track fluctuates from a point and click type of noise reduction. Dialogue is generally clear, though there are numerous lines that fall by the wayside due to the original production. There isn’t much to say. This is a typical audio track from the era with no attention to restoration. Not bad, but it certainly could be better.
“The Misfits” comes with zero special features aside from a theatrical trailer. Sorry folks, the lost making-of documentary is not located here. Shame on MGM for not delivering fans a more thought out special features section, or one at all.
“The Misfits” deserves a bit more attention in its Blu-ray restoration, but as it stands, fans of the films will enjoy the quality upgrade of this release. Depending on your tastes, this is a must own or perhaps just a rent.