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Pop Culture 101: THE MISFITS

Production stories about the making of The Misfits were published in a 1961 issue of Photoplay as "The Curse of The Misfits." James Goode's production diary, The Story of The Misfits," was published in 1963.

Because of his success in The Misfits, Montgomery Clift won the leading role in director John Huston's next film, Freud (1962). The results were disastrous. The two fell out, partly over Clift's insecurities and partly because he had brought a boyfriend with him for a stay at Huston's Irish estate. After that, Huston browbeat him mercilessly throughout the production.

Huston also wanted to cast Marilyn Monroe in Freud as the patient whose treatment helped the famed psychoanalyst frame his ideas about infant sexuality. Horrified at The Misfits' financial failure, 20th Century-Fox president Spyros Skouras refused to loan her to Huston for the film, and the role went to Susannah York.

Although a critical and box office failure on its initial release, The Misfits has developed a strong following among younger critics and audiences captivated by the glamour of Clark Gable, Monroe and Clift. Genre critics in particular have praised the film as a new take on the Western, with its creation of an insular society of losers (a common theme in Huston's work) brought together by their displacement from contemporary American society.

In 1989, Irvington Publishers printed the screenplay in an anthology also featuring scripts from The Apartment (1960) and Charade (1963).

In a 1993 episode of the science fiction series Quantum Leap, Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) convinces Monroe to accept her role in The Misfits and even gives the film its title.

The 1996 television movie Norma Jean & Marilyn shows Mira Sorvino, as Monroe, working on the film with Arthur Miller (David Dukes) and Montgomery Clift (Jeffrey Combs).

Clips from The Misfits often turn up in documentaries about Hollywood's golden years, including Montgomery Clift (1983), John Huston: The Man, the Movies, the Maverick (1989) and Clark Gable: Tall, Dark and Handsome (1996).

PBS' Great Performances series devoted a 2002 episode to "Making The Misfits". Brian Dennehy narrated the documentary, which included interviews with actors Eli Wallach and Kevin McCarthy, photographer Inge Morath (later Mrs. Arthur Miller), production assistant Edward Parone and John Huston's son Tony.

Inge Morath's behind-the-scenes photographs were displayed at the Nevada Museum of Art in 2007 under the heading "Inge Morath: Road to Reno."

Many of Inge Morath's on-the-set photographs from The Misfits as well as the stills from other photographers from the Magnum photographic agency were published in The Misfits by Serge Toubiana for Phaidon Press.

by Frank Miller

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