Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Misfits (1961)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Misfits (1961)

In director John Huston's modern western drama - the last film of both Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe (and co-star Thelma Ritter), derived from scriptwriter Arthur Miller's own novelette (appearing in 1957 in Esquire Magazine), and from Milller's first screenplay (written specifically for Miller's wife Marilyn Monroe at the time):

  • the introductions of the film's five main characters in the 1960 Nevada desert (three were also 'misfit' cowboys who had failed relationships in their lives) whose shifting interactions with each other formed the basis for the film: 30 year-old ex-stripper Roslyn Taber (Marilyn Monroe) - temporarily renting a place in Reno, NV after obtaining a divorce, her friendly landlady Isabelle Steers (Thelma Ritter), widowed ex-mechanic, tow-truck driver and war pilot-aviator Guido Racanelli (Eli Wallach), aging, old-school horse-wrangler and roper cowboy Gaylord "Gay" Langland (Clark Gable), and death-defying rodeo bull- and bronc-riding drifter Perce Howland (Montgomery Clift)
  • Roslyn and Gay immediately took a romantic interest in each other while temporarily living together in Guido's unfinished house, but both were wary of being emotionally-committed
  • the answer of Gay to Roslyn when she asked him: "How do you just live?" - (Langland: "Well, you start by goin' to sleep. You get up when you feel like it. You scratch yourself. You fry yourself some eggs. You see what kind of a day it is. You throw stones at a can. Whistle")
  • the scene of Isabelle's toast to the state of Nevada, known for gambling and for quickie divorces: ("Here's to Nevada, the 'leave it' state...You got money you want to gamble, leave it here. You got a wife you wanna get rid of, get rid of her here. Extra atom bomb you don't need, blow it up here. Nobody's gonna mind in the slightest. The slogan of Nevada is 'Anything goes, but don't complain if it went.'...I even left my Southern accent here....I love Nevada. You know, they don't even have regular meal times here. Never met so many people didn't own a watch. Might have two wives at the same time, but no watch. Bless them all")
  • Gay's compliments about Roslyn's beauty, and their discussion about her profound sadness in life: (Gay: "You're a real beautiful woman. It's almost kind of an honor sittin' next to ya. You just shine in my eyes. That's my true feelin', Roslyn. What makes you so sad? I think you're the saddest girl I ever met." Roslyn: "You're the first man that ever said that. I'm usually told how happy I am." Gay: "That's because you make a man feel happy...Well, don't get discouraged, girl, you might"); and then he suggested that she sort her life out by remaining in the country with him - to be friends: ("Look, why don't you try it out here for a while, see what happens? You know, sometimes when a person don't know what to do, the best thing is to just stand still. I'll guarantee you'll have something out here you wouldn't find on every corner. I, uh, I may not amount to much in some ways, but I am a good friend...Let me take you back and get your things. Try it for a while, see what happens")
  • the scene of Gay and Roslyn's honest talk about love and his first failed marriage, when she asked: ("What happened? Did you just stop loving your wife, Gay?") - ("Well, I come home one night and she's all wrapped up in a car with a fella. Turned out to be an old friend. A cousin of mine, as a matter of fact...You know, in those days I thought you got married and that was it. But nothin' is it. Not for ever"); she reacted: ("That's what I can't get used to. Everything keeps changing"); he responded: ("I'll tell you this, though. I wouldn't know how to say goodbye to you, Roslyn. It surprises me")
  • the sexy paddle-ball game played by Roslyn in her loose-fitting polka-dotted white dress, to win a bet
  • the love triangle conflict that developed between Gay, Roslyn, and his friend Guido, who attempted to persuade her to ally with him: ("You're through with Gay now, right? Well, tell me. He doesn't know what you're all about. He'll never know. Tell me, Roslyn. I been waitin'. I'm goin' out of my mind with waitin'. Come back with me. Give me a week, two weeks. Let me show you what I am. Tell me, Roslyn. Give me a reason and I'll stop it. There'll be hell to pay, but give me a reason and I'll do it"); but she rejected his offer: ("You never felt anything for anybody in your life. All you know is the sad words. You could blow up the world, and all you would feel is sorry for yourself!")
  • Gay's girlfriend Roslyn's hysterical reaction to the cowboys' roundup of "misfit" mustangs for dog food (by buzzing them with a biplane to exhaust and confuse the animals), after they had tied up one of the horses and talked about splitting up the money - she ran off into the open scorched earth and screamed at them: ("Horse killers! Killers! Murderers! You're liars! All of you, liars! You're only happy when you can see something die! Why don't you kill yourselves and be happy?! You and your God's country! Freedom! I pity you! You're three dear, sweet, dead men!...Butchers! Murderers! I pity you! You're three dead men!")
  • the dramatic scene of Perce Howland's release of the captured horses, as Roslyn urged them to run off: ("Go home, go!")
Round-Up of "Misfit" Mustangs
Roslyn: "Horse Killers!"
Perce's Release of Captured Horses
Gay's Wrangling of Stallion Leader, Then Release
  • the overpowering action sequence of Gay's exhausting, one-on-one wrangling confrontation with the stallion leader of the wild herd of misfit horses, and then his surprising about-face - cutting the rope to release the majestic animal, as he explained: ("Don't want nobody makin' up my mind for me, that's all. Damn 'em all! They changed it. Changed it all around. Smeared it all over with blood. Well, I'm finished with it. It's, it's like ropin' a dream now. Just gotta find another way to be alive, that's all. If there is one any more")
  • the film's memorable closing lines as Gay and Roslyn, now reconciled to each other, rode back in his truck: - Roslyn: ("How do you find your way back in the dark?") - Langland (pointing to the night-time sky): ("Just head for that big star, straight on. The highway's under it. It'll take us right home")

Four of the Main Characters (l to r): Guido, Gay, Isabelle, Roslyn

Roslyn (Marilyn Monroe): "How do you just live?"

Gay Langland (Clark Gable): "Well, you start by goin' to sleep..."

Isabelle's (Thelma Ritter) Toast

Honest Discussions About Love and Friendship

Betting on a Paddle-Ball Game

Love Triangle: Guido's Offer to Roslyn - Rejected

Concluding Scene: "It'll take us right home"


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