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Newsletter Dated: 1/14/2012 6:24:42 AM
Subject: MISFITS - week of January 14, 2012
I saw John Huston’s THE MISFITS when it was released in 1961, and although it was written by Arthur Miller and starred Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift, Thelma Ritter and the irascible Eli Wallach, I have limited knowledge of the movie, its plot and most of its history.
But somehow it popped into mind as I watched the Republican presidential hopefuls’ debates on ABC. THE MISFITS. What an apt title for that motley crew!
Not that I could bring myself to actually vote for any of them, although I have to admit each one—with the possible exception of Michele Bachmann and sometimes Jon Huntsman—had an occasional valid point regarding the intrusive nature of government, which, come to think of it, is exactly what a constitutional republic is supposed to consist of.
My ancient mother-in-law watched TV with me those nights. “You certainly can’t vote for Barack Obama, can you?” she asked during the first debate, with the same wide-eyed innocence of Marilyn Monroe asking Clark Gable if he seriously intended to sell his rustled mustangs to a slaughterhouse that made dog food.
“I don’t know,” was my honest reply. “It all depends on how I react to his State of the Union speech. Otherwise, I may have to sit out this election.”
What is it about Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum that turns me off? Possibly it’s the same thing that shut down the box office for THE MISFITS, a movie from which, as Yogi Berra might say, the public stayed away in droves. It cost 4 million to produce (today, a star of Clark Gable’s stature would not show up at rehearsal for such a pitiful salary,) and its total U.S. box office receipts barely covered the nut.
The scenario, laid out in masterful language, was too good to be true. The performances by Gable and Monroe were said to be among their very best. The script, written and revised daily as Miller struggled to keep the flame of passion for his wife aglow, was a tribute to the art of screenplay literature.
Even John Huston and Montgomery Clift kept their drinking down to bouts of creative sobriety as they endured the 100+ degrees heat in the Nevada desert.
THE MISFITS was, arguably, the best movie made during the 20th century. Frank Taylor, the producer, said it was the ultimate motion picture. Marilyn Monroe received a Golden Globe Award; Huston was nominated Best Director by the Directors Guild of America (Robert Wise won that year for WEST SIDE STORY.)
Even the ancient Western star of the silver screen, Rex Bell, who had risen politically to become Nevada’s lieutenant governor, had a bit part in the film. And Montgomery Clift who died of a heart attack the very night THE MISFITS was shown on TV the first time, was asked if he wanted to see it, and he spoke what were reported to be his final words: “Absolutely not!”
He might also react similarly (if he were still among us) to voting for any of the GOP presidential candidates, based on their televised antics. Recalling the phrase ‘presidential material’ from earlier contests, I do not see any evidence of it among the hopefuls.
My wife, an astute movie aficionado in her own right, claims to have never cared for THE MISFITS. She says the movie, filmed in black & white, a drama noir, should have been entitled THE PETRIFIED MISFITS. She also wants it known her nomenclature applies equally to the GOP presidential candidates—Newt Gingrich, the apparent phony, in particular.
And then to top it off, 60 MINUTES, the very next night, had Steve Kroft interviewing President Obama on the subject, in essence, of why he thought he deserved a second term. Kroft bluntly asked, “Did you over-promise? Did you underestimate how difficult this was gonna be?”
Eloquently, the chief executive summed it up in a few sentences: “I did not over promise. And I did not overestimate how tough this was going to be. I always believed that this was a long-term project—that reversing a culture here in Washington, dominated by special interests, was going to take more than a year. It was going to take more than two years. It was going to take more than one term. Probably more than one president.”
Those comments alone should have been enough to cement my endorsement—there are those who erroneously think my vote will be invalidated anyway by someone casting an opposition ballot—but I still prefer to digest his State of the Union remarks first.
In any event, it remains uncertain if the GOP can offer an acceptable slate of viable candidates by 2016. I won’t hold my breath (although I’m sure there are some who wish I would.)
Copyright©2012 by Robert A. Mills, all rights reserved