Helsinki City Art Museum continues in the Tennis Palace the series of exhibitions about moviemaking. The new exhibition presents 53 rare black-and-white photos of the making of the legendary film The Misfits (1961). Directed by John Huston and written by Arthur Miller, the film starred the unforgettable Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable and Montgomery Clift. They were captured by photographers of the famous Magnum Photos agency.
The Misfits was in many ways an extraordinary film. Arthur Miller once called it an Eastern western. It is both a brilliant western and profound psychological drama, whose production was coloured by the personal tragedies of its makers. The Misfits was also the final film of two of its stars. Clark Gable died of a heart attack soon after the film was completed and Marilyn failed to finish her next movie before her tragic death in August 1962. The era of great Hollywood stars and studios also ended around the time of The Misfits.
The documentation of the movie and use of the photos was given exclusively to the Magnum Photos agency. Only Marilyn Monroe was allowed to choose the pictures of her that were given to the agency. The famous photographers worked in pairs with complete freedom in the heat of the Nevada desert in two-week periods. Some of them had their own designated targets, such as rodeo scenes for Ernst Haas or Montgomery Clift for Dennis Stock. Eve Arnold managed to establish a close rapport with Marilyn, and the final studio shoots were documented by Erich Hartmann. The other photographers were Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bruce Davidson, Elliott Erwitt, Inge Morath and Cornell Capa. Because the set was not besieged by an army of press photographers, the actors could shed their role entirely during breaks in the shooting. Elliot Erwitt has said that the production was total chaos, shootings were late and the set was in disorder. John Huston liked to spend the nights drinking and playing cards, Marilyn had a bad case of nerves and the rest suffered from her whims.
The Misfits is about eternal themes, life and death, independence and the difficulty of commitment. The last cowboys try to preserve their freedom in a changing world; the worst thing that can happen to a man is to have to work for someone else. The savage men in the film are balanced by the sensitive and innocent Roslyn, played by Marilyn Monroe, who defends the powerless and abhors violence. The Magnum photos evoke the magic of The Misfits. They show the same pensiveness and passion that characterised the movie itself, the fateful mood of the shootings and the actors' personal lives.
The exhibition is organised by Magnum Photos, Paris. The exhibition sponsor is Anna magazine.
Guided tours: Free guided tours are conducted in Finnish on Wednesdays at 6 pm, Saturdays and Sundays at 2 pm; in Swedish on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month at 1 pm. To book tours at other times, call (09) 310 87003.