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The Misfits (1961) – PHOTOGRAPHY


By Bob Pakes

topIn 1960, nine photographers from the Magnum agency were brought in to document the making of what would become a classic and historical significant movie: The Misfits.
Directed by John Huston, written by Arthur Miller, and starring some of Hollywood’s biggest names, the production of The Misfits was riddled with problems of the highest order. The focus in this article however, is on the iconic work of the nine photographers. To do their photos more justice, please click the images for an enlargment.

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The Misfits USA photograhers posterMarilyn Monroe appears to be in very good spirits throughout the shooting of the movie. She has never looked more natural than in these photos. Of course, there is the occasional professional pose in the direction of a photographer, as if she almost couldn’t help playing the ‘character’ of Marilyn Monroe, but the bulk of the photos show her without her usual masks, without the glamour, and vulnerable in the true sense of the word. Monroe is also overweight and the constant struggles throughout her life had made her look much older than the 34 she was at that time. It’s as if she had finally dropped the glamorous image she had created for herself and went back to being Norma Jeane Mortenson. The Misfits was the last movie Monroe ever completed, she died in August 1962 (at age 36). The cause of her death is still a mystery.
This Misfits was also Clark Gable‘s last movie. He did not live to attend the premiere in early ’61 and died on November 16, 1960 (59 years old), only 10 days after finishing the movie.
Montgomery Clift only made three more movies after The Misfits. He died in 1966 (45 years old). On the night he died, The Misfits was on TV, when he was asked by his personal asistant if he wanted to watch the movie, his answer was “Absolutely not!”. These were the last words he ever spoke to anyone. Clift died of a heart attack.




150 (Ernst Haas) 53 (Ernst Haas)


50 (Eve Arnold) 51 (Eve Arnold)


52 (Eve Arnold) 151 (Eve Arnold)


800 (Eve Arnold) 802 801



Clark Gable
Women always want to know what you’re thinking.
Marilyn Monroe
Maybe they want to get to know you.
Clark Gable
Did you ever get to know a man better by asking him questions?


03 (Eve Arnold)


102 Miss Monroe Monroe In Nevada


300 (Ernst Haas) 301


250 252 251 Dennis Stock


200 (Eve Arnold) 201 (Eve Arnold)



Montgomery Clift
My face is fine.
It’s all healed up.
It’s just as good as new.


175 (Eve Arnold) 176


190 191


500 (Eve Arnold) 502 (Eve Arnold) 501 (Eve Arnold)


275 (Eve Arnold) 276 (Eve Arnold)


601 (Dennis Stock) 603 (Dennis Stock)



Eli Wallach (to Marilyn Monroe)
You have the gift for life.
The rest of us, we’re just looking for a place to hide and watch it all go by.


04 05 upgrade


550 (Eve Arnold)


1001 (Ernst Haas) Misfits

Marilyn Monroe
Did you ever think of getting married again?
Clark Gable
Yeah, I’ve thought about it a lot of times!
But never in daylight.


900 (Eve Arnold) 901


180 (Eve Arnold) 181 (Eve Arnold)


2000 2001 (Bruce Davidson)


Clark Gable
Ever hear the story about the city-man out in the country?
He sees this fella sitting on his porch, and he says “Mister, could you tell me how I can get back to town?”.
The fella says “No”.
“Well, could you tell me how to get to the post office?”.
The fella says “No”.
“Well, do you know how to get to the railroad station?”.
“Boy,” he says, “you sure don’t know much, do you?”.
The fella says “No. But I ain’t lost”.


576 (Eve Arnold) 575 (Dennis Stock)


5001 (Inge Morath) 5002 (Inge Morath)


120 (Eve Arnold) 122 121 (Eve Arnold)




The Misfits - color 100 (Cornell Capa)


The Misfits - color 102 (Cornell Capa) The Misfits - color 105

Clark Gable
The man who’s too afraid to die,
is too afraid to live.


The Misfits - color 101 (Cornell Capa) The Misfits - color 104 The Misfits - color 103 upgrade


The Misfits - color 130 upgrade The Misfits - color 131


The Misfits - color 220 (Ernst Haas) The Misfits - color 160 (Eve Arnold)


The Misfits - color 110 (Erich Hartmann) 

Eli Wallach
She wasn’t like any other woman. Stood by me 100 percent. Uncomplaining as a tree.

Marilyn Monroe
Maybe that’s what killed her.


The Misfits - color 111 (Erich Hartmann) The Misfits - color 141 The Misfits - color 140


The Misfits - color 150 The Misfits - color 122 The Misfits - color 126 (Eve Arnold)




The MisfitsCREDITS:
All images in this article are copyrighted by MAGNUM PHOTOS
Eve Arnold
Ernest Haas
Dennis Stock
Elliot Erwitt
Erich Hartmann
Bruce Davidson
Cornell Capa
Inge Morath
Henri Cartier-Bresson
3 Miller pockets from 1961


This article is dedicated to TH, a wonderful true-life misfit.



9 Comments Post a comment
  1. Maybe I should give the movie a try in the not too distant future? If not (I’m not a Monroe fan) it’s certainly not because you didn’t try hard to convince us to do so!
    Your longest topic yet, Bob? The presentation is, as always, superb. I’m a sucker for white borders around the photos. Very tasteful!

    September 22, 2014
  2. Gerrit de Jong #

    What a fantastic director John Huston was. His list of classics is unbelievable. Huston never was in awe of a movie star. He could make them act like it was their first gig in the movies. His movies with Bogey (Bogart) were instant classics and this Gable/Monroe movie was no exception to that rule.
    Nice topic Bob!

    September 22, 2014
  3. Priscilla Smits #

    As a Marilyn Monroe / Clark Gable fan, and a fan of the movie in general, I enjoyed this topic very much. Great job, love the off screen photos.

    September 30, 2014
  4. Alan White #

    Some lovely B & W photos of Marilyn, great work Bob as always.

    June 24, 2015
  5. Great and beautiful post.

    July 19, 2015
  6. r&b #

    Man, you can’t get better than these photos. If ever 3 legends were together, this is it! Thanx!

    August 3, 2015
  7. Louie #

    What a great tribute to this movie!

    I live in Dayton Nevada where most of this movie was filmed. Many of the same buildings are still standing along with the extras in the movie. The dessert alkali flat area has not changed much. This region is 15 minutes east of Dayton along highway 50. This is where they filmed the mustangs running away from the airplane. I just took a ton of pictures standing in the same spot where the cameras filmed, and it looks the same. We still have wild horses running throughout the landscape on a daily basis. Last week I was just standing in the same bar where Marilyn Monroe was playing the paddle ball. Still looks the same, but the building is up for sale.

    November 24, 2016
  8. Julian Palau #

    My favorite movie of all time. The final 25 minutes are the best scenes ever filmed in the history of cinema.
    I would love to have access to the photo where Gable, Clift and Wallach are holding the mustang. Please get back to me.

    August 16, 2019
  9. Keith Nichols #

    Your assessment of Monroe’s frame of mind seems a bit charitable considering that the cast and crew spent a good deal of its time waiting for her to show up and then had to endure the inordinate number of takes required for her to deliver a technically adequate line-reading. This behavior was not uncommon for her but was complicated by her depending on Paula Strasberg’s approval instead of John Huston. At the time, Monroe and Arthur Miller were growing apart, and Monroe was ending an affair with Yves Montand, which didn’t improve her work ethic, either.

    May 1, 2020

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