Cruisin’ the Muses: No substitute for real theater

Did you catch “The Misfits” this week on television?The 1961 film starring Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe was re-broadcast again this week on cable TV. Filmed in Northern Nevada, it also featured Montgomery Clift playing Gable’s main rival for the affections of Monroe’s character. But Eli Wallach’s role had him in there pitching as well, while Thelma Ritter nailed her friendship role and was the fittest of the misfits.This celebrated black-and-white movie was filmed mainly in Reno, Dayton, around Pyramid Lake and near Stagecoach.Most Northern Nevadans know about it, but your columnist hadn’t seen it since the 1960s and was fascinated to watch it again after moving to Carson City.It brought to mind “The Shootist,” released in 1976 after filming in Carson City and Hollywood, which also boasted a topflight cast. John Wayne played an aging but commanding gunfighter in the title role.This film, also seen twice by your scrivener, came later in life both times and is a favorite. The supporting cast members were among the best assembled in western movie history. Wallach and Ritter were splendid in “The Misfits,” though it isn’t hard to look good as you play off three stars like Gable, Monroe and Clift. Character actors like these display great craft. But “The Shootist” was amazing. Wayne’s supporting cast made him stand tall in Carson City, though he often did in westerns.Lauren Bacall, Jimmy Stewart, Ron Howard, Richard Boone, Hugh O’Brien, Harry Morgan, John Carradine, Sheree North and Scatman Crothers might have made it a hit with Joe Six Pack in the role of J.B. Books, the dying protagonist Wayne made his own. The point of all this praise? These movies may be great entertainment, but still don’t necessarily give the joy of live productions put on by less well known yet enthusiastic performers.Spirited entertainment and masterful stagecraft offer a different magic than celluloid. So go out and catch “None of the Above!” at the Brewery Arts Center on Oct. 19, 20,21, 26, 27, 28, or Nov. 2 and 3.Get out and see the “Hollywood Hearthrob” melodrama at the Odeon Hall and Saloon in Dayton on Friday, Saturday or on Oct. 19 and 20.The former spoofs the Nov. 6 presidential election. The latter is at the historic Dayton building where key scenes of “The Misfits” were filmed. Movies are fine, even on TV, but live shows are community at work.Theaters come alive, both in performance and in audience response. • John Barrette covers the arts, senior issues and health care. If you have a story or upcoming event that you want the public to know about, email him at or call 775-881-1213.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment