Monday, 19 May 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1961: Clark Gable in The Misfits

Clark Gable did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Gay Langland in The Misfits.

The Misfits is a solid enough film about the relationship between a younger divorcee and three somewhat off men who try to maintain their independence by catching wild mustangs.

Misfits is particularly notable film as it is one of the last films of Montgomery Clift, the last completed film of Marilyn Monroe, and the final film of Clark Gable. Clark Gable portrays Gay Langland a cowboy who is still trying to keep to his old ways even as the world is so obviously changing around him, and making his independent ways far more difficult to achieve. Gable in his later performances still tried to keep his old charm, in films such as Teacher's Pet for example, while it obviously his face could not hide his age. This film is quite a bit different as Gable seems to embrace his age more here as he adjusts his performance here considerably, and although he certainly has his charm in this case he changes from his old days.

Gable still brings plenty of charm but he plays it through his character of Gay quite brilliantly. He has a rougher quality to it suggesting Gay's background as a cowboy, but as well Gable suggests the age of Gay in his performance. Gable still lights up a room with his presence to be sure but it it not quite a bright as it always was. Gable wears the right sort of somberness in his performance. It is not even anything that is even slightly overpowering in his performance but Gable brings it subtly in his performance. Gable makes it a very natural facet to Gay that is simply an essential part of the man alluding to his own history that has brought him to this point in his life. You never are told what Gay has gone through but you can see some of it simply through Gable's face.

Clark Gable carries himself very well in the film and never seems out of place with Eli Wallach, Clift or Monroe. Gable even manages to create some pretty believable chemistry with Monroe as the rather sensitive divorcee Roslyn and despite their age difference their relationship actually seems believable. Gable of course has that charm which helps in making the relationship have a foundation, but he goes even further creating some honest warmth even in the somewhat rough exterior of Gay. Gable manages the right balance between realizes both the tough individualistic qualities in Gay, but as well the softer more likable qualities that would make Roslyn fall for him. The central relationship is realized very well by Gable and Monroe and it never seems odd or wrong for Gay and Roslyn to be together.

When the men decide to round up Mustangs for a quick profit conflict arises since Roslyn learns that the captured Mustangs will be sold off to butchers. Gable is quite strong though in portraying the conflict within Gay himself as he is constantly trying to reason the use of the Mustangs to Roslyn. What Gable does so well is show the strong enthusiasm in the catch, portraying the sense of Gay living the life he wants to live for the moment. Gable brings this moments down in just the right way though by making Gay's reactions to Roslyn's reactions very natural, and most of all true to the character. Although I feel Roslyn's objections are written in too much of a heavy handed and one note fashion, Gable does make up for it by realizing a complexity in the conflict through his performance as Gay.

Gable is excellent in the final scenes of the film after the Mustangs have been released due to Roslyn's objections but Gaye still ties them up to only release them again. This might seem odd, but Gable makes it absolutely convincing with Gable conveying the undying belief that Gay has in himself to still make his own decisions. Gable is quite moving by showing a desperation in Gay that it is not even his pride that make Gay perform this seemingly odd action, it is a need to keep onto his own life that he loves so dearly. Gable personifies the old west individualism beautifully here, and I could have easily seen him in Melvyn Douglas's role in Hud. Unfortunately Gable died before this film even found release but it is a performance worthy to mark the end of the legendary career of Clark Gable.

18 comments:

Michael McCarthy said...

Louis, do you think you will be reviewing Montgomery Clift's performance in this film?

Louis Morgan said...

I think I would lean more towards Wallach.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Can you give me your rating and thoughts on Annette Bening in American Beauty?

Mark said...

Louis, do you think Mel Gibson is a better actor or director, as well as your ranking and thoughts on his director films.

JackiBoyz said...

In which case what are your thoughts on Clift's performance

Louis Morgan said...

Robert: Bening - 3.5(I'm probably being generous really as on re-watches I find her performance to be overdone for the most part. In part that makes sense as she is suppose to be playing someone who is all surface, but I still find what she does seems more acting than finding the character)

Mark: Well since I've only watched 2 of his four directorial features I would say actor. Gibson is a strong director though with a clear vision in his films, unlike another more prolific actor turned director.

JackiBoyz: Clift - 4(This is once again a very damaged Clift we are seeing here, even though it is not quite as powerful as his work in Judgment At Nuremburg. His personal problems again perhaps shine through his performance, but again it only contributes to his character who is suppose to be a cowboy who has suffered too many injuries in his career)

RatedRStar said...

I feel so sorry for Clift, cause pretty much after the crash every performance he gave was as the damaged Clift. Everybody should check out his final performance in The Defector, he really looks wounded but he really gives it his all, thats what I love about him, he always put 100 percent effort.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

I'd give Bening a 1.5. I thought she was WAY too over-the-top. I felt a disconnect between her character and her showboating.

Michael Patison said...

I hadn't thought about Bening's performance at all recently until I saw you post about it on Facebook, Robert. I think I agree more with Louis, though I think I might go for a 3 (Louis seemed to be leaning in that direction too). I found her entertaining if often too over-the-top, but I likewise never thought she successfully embodied her character enough. I agree with Louis that Spacey's work was sometimes too far away from realism (I still liked him more). Bening probably would've been terrific if her performance had been more on Spacey's level. Thora Birch is still the best part of that movie for me.

Also, I can't believe I never thought of Julia Stiles for 1999 Lead. She is certainly better than Bening. That being said, Allison Janney's two scenes (I think that's the correct amount) almost steal the movie for me.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Have I ever mentioned my love for Alison Janney?

RatedRStar said...

=D could have been worse, at least it wasn't Wes Bentley bad lol

Michael Patison said...

Robert: No you haven't. I don't think I've ever mentioned mine either. I will leave its magnitude to the imagination.

Daniel: No kidding. The scary thing is that I think his work in AB is his best.

RatedRStar said...

omg Michael =D his best work lol, what were the other performances that you saw that were even more painful lol =D lets get Louis to see them lol.

RatedRStar said...

How do you feel about Bentleys performance Louis, =D after all he finished 62nd place in your Best Supporting Actor 1999 rankings so he finished in the top 100 =D.

Michael Patison said...

Mainly just the Heath Ledger, Kate Hudson Four Feathers. Horrid movie directed disgustingly by Shekhar Kapur. Honestly I've avoided movies with him in them.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

I thought he was passable in The Hunger Games. It was strange seeing him play such a down-to-Earth character, but certainly welcome considering his... other endeavors.

Louis Morgan said...

RatedRStar: Well I think I need to see some more movies from 99 to rectify that problem.

Anyway the worst of Bentley can be found in Ghost Rider.

I thought he was okay in his one scene in Lovelace though.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

I think he's grown up a bit. From the sounds of it he was a druggie from AB to Ghost Rider. Now he's sober enough to act.