In her final completed film, playing a dramatic role created by her husband Arthur Miller, Marilyn Monroe is touching, and radiant as ever, as a showgirl whose intensely sympathetic nature upends the lives of three cowboy drifters.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2015
Marilyn Monroe’s final film is famously imbued with the personal traumas of its iconic stars: Monroe, Clark Gable and jumpy, mesmerising Montgomery Clift. You’ve never had a better look at any of them than in this glorious 4K digital restoration. The writer Arthur Miller was in Reno securing the divorce that cleared the way to marrying Monroe when he had the idea of a story about the old cowboys he met there. By the time he’d remodelled it as a film script for his new wife, that marriage too was on the rocks. She plays dreamy, impulsive Roslyn, in Reno to end a loveless marriage with no idea where she’s headed next. Before the movie’s over, all three of the Nevada cowboys she’s met have shown the impossibly tender-hearted Roslyn their gentler sides – without telling her that the work they do with wild horses is anything but gentle. Monroe’s wary intimacy with the avuncular, smitten Gable and the ever-hurting Clift is intensely touching. Director John Huston’s love of location pays dividends in the desert and the horse-wrangling scenes, widely considered as contributing to the 59-year-old Gable’s subsequent heart attack, are electrifying.
“John Huston’s direction here is uncharacteristically sensitive, and his cast – which also features two of the best actors of this period, Thelma Ritter and Eli Wallach – is exceptional. Also adding to the film’s particular spell is the black-and-white photography, shot by the great Russell Metty, who was Douglas Sirk’s regular cinematographer in the 50s. His images alone make this big-screen revival most welcome.” — Ben Sachs, Cine-File