What’s Marilyn Reading?

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Hard boiled crime – “Big Brokers” by Irving Shulman

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A new script – Niagara (1953)

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Polishing off a literary tome – Ulysses by James Joyce

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Mr Monroe’s efforts – Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

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On the lawn with Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

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Fiery spanish painting by Francisco Goya

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The Passenger List in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

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Marilyn is not reading Murder By Strangulation

posted by Tom Moore

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Poster of the Day: River of No Return (1954)

tumblr_mrs65fUkxo1qh35m6o1_500River of No Return (Poster  for the original Polish release from 1967. Artist: Kazimierz Krolikowski)

“ONE THING ABOUT THIS, THE LONGER YOU LAST, THE LESS YOU CARE.” – Kay Weston

A saloon singer with a crooked, gambling boyfriend pair up with a reticent widower and his young son, to make it to safety up a raging river on a rickety raft following an Indian raid. Starring old friends, Marilyn Monroe and Robert Mitchum – directed by Otto Preminger who had, by all accounts a pretty tricky shoot – namely in the shape of Monroe’s acting coach who would give the actress alternative directions, and Mitchum’s drinking problem… Still, the film is a fun, adventure-driven western with a strong and naturalistic performance from Marilyn who, after three blockbuster comedies in 1953, finally got a chance to douse that breathless voice of hers with (presumably) a good shot of whisky.  Interestingly, Marilyn later described River as her worst film. I disagree!

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Posted by Dixie Turner

Poster of the Day: The Seven Year Itch (1955)

sevenyearRWest German, 1964 re-issue of the Billy Wilder comedy, starring Marilyn Monroe. The film is most famous for the street scene where an amused Tom Ewell looks on as Marilyn enjoys a gush of air from a happy subway grate:

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Half the men of Manhattan turned up to watch this scene being shot – a fact that Marilyn found amusing. Her husband, Joe Di Maggio, who was also on set, however, did not… their marriage ended during this shoot.

Marilyn Monroe Filming

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seven-year-itch-1For Marilyn fans, the documentary ‘Love, Marilyn’ is worth a watch. Not fantastic as a film, but gives a real insight into just how seriously she took her acting, for instance when she ended her contract with Fox and moved to New York to join the Actors Studio – a fact that many actors at the studio ridiculed her for.

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posted by Dixie Turner

Film Fanatics: Exhibitions to Ease Your Appetite

Do you have a 5-a-day habit? Do you get the shakes when you hit the Off button? Do your hands get clammy; do you develop a stutter; does your mind drift when people begin to speak of Other Things when all you can think about is whether or not Turin Horse really will be Bela Tar’s last film or wonder whose idea  it was to cast Scarlet Johannsen as Janet Leigh in the upcoming Hitchcock biopic (or Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner in the Aviator for that matter – I mean, WHAT??!!) and wonder whether the sequel to Prometheus will actually just be another prequel and, if so, will the aliens actually be upon us in reality before the franchise sheds any light on who they are in film??? Well, if you just can’t get enough, try coming in more frequently. Otherwise, for a (brief) change of scene, how about sauntering down to your local high-brow culture-house to peruse the following:

NOW AT THE V&A:

The Victoria and Albert Museum’s current exhibition is all about the movies that you love and, in particular, the costumes that made them. From Superman to Some Like It Hot, Wizard of Oz to The Matrix, the incredible (and often over-looked/thankless) skills of the world’s finest costume-makers are on display here.

For an idea of what exactly costume work entails, read the following interviews with some of the top designers in the industry:

Sandy Powell (The Young Victoria):


Amy Westcott (Black Swan):


John Dunn (Boardwalk Empire):


NOW ON AT THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY:

For every Marilyn fanatic (isn’t that just everyone?), the National Portrait Gallery’s new exhibition, Marilyn Monroe: A British Love Affair, is a must see. It centres around British photographers and personalities who, along with the rest of the world, found in her an endlessly fascinating subject – sexy, vulnerable, childish and troubled. Amongst others, the exhibition includes photos by Cecil Beaton (see above).

New Addition: NIAGARA (1953)

Where love blooms and blazes, and eventually grows bitter and murderous… (Great Package Deals Available – Why Not Book Now?)

Niagara (1953) – directed by Henry Hathaway (True Grit), starring Marilyn Monroe and Joseph Cotton.

George (Cotton) is trying to save his marriage after an apparent infidelity on the part of his beautiful and much younger wife, Rose (Monroe), but grows increasingly jealous as he begins to suspect that his rival may not be as far off as he thought. A taut and tense psychological thriller with excellent central performances from Cotton and Monroe as well as from Jean Peters who plays one half of a couple who, along with everyone else around, are in thrall of the seductive Rose and then bear witness as the drama unfolds.

The screenplay was written by Charles Brackett, who also wrote:

Sunset Boulevard (1950)  – directed by Billy Wilder, starring William Holden and Gloria Swanson. If you haven’t seen this film, then you should stop what you’re doing and get on it – one of the greatest films about Hollywood that Hollywood ever made… Gloria Swanson is astounding as the deluded ex-movie star, Norma Desmond, who used to be big (“I am big; it’s the movies that got small”)

Happy Birthday, Marilyn, Piccola Sorellina; Colombella D’Oro

Marilyn Monroe – 1/6/26 – 5/8/62

This beautiful passage on Marilyn Monroe (see below), comes from Pier Paolo Pasolini’s political-poetic film essay, La Rabbia. The film is made up of documentary footage showing, predominantly, scenes of revolution, political protest, nuclear testing and liberation. The section on Marilyn comes about two-thirds of the way through as a breathtaking juxtaposition reflecting on the fragility of innocent beauty in the face of a violent world. For a film that centres on the political tribulations of the world’s underclass, the section on the Hollywood legend remains none-the-less tragic, offering all the romance and poignancy of a woman held in the eyes of the world – more alone than when she was unknown – who passed into mythology and symbolism. The film – which is unavailable on DVD – was made in 1963, one year after Marilyn’s death.

And after that, as a bit of a pick-me-up (!), here’s Marilyn singing Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend, from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (hum the song to yourself):

Marilyn and some of her (too few) birthdays:

Del mondo antico e del mondo futuro

era rimasta solo la bellezza, e tu,

povera sorellina minore,

quella che corre dietro i fratelli più grandi,

e ride e piange con loro, per imitarli,

tu sorellina più piccola,

quella bellezza l’avevi addosso umilmente,

e la tua anima di figlia di piccola gente,

non ha mai saputo di averla,

perché altrimenti non sarebbe stata bellezza.

Il mondo te l’ha insegnata,

cosi la tua bellezza divenne sua.

Del pauroso mondo antico e del pauroso mondo futuro

era rimasta sola la bellezza, e tu

te la sei portata dietro come un sorriso obbediente.

L’obbedienza richiede troppe lacrime inghiottite,

il darsi agli altri, troppi allegri sguardi

che chiedono la loro pietà! Così

ti sei portata via la tua bellezza.

Sparì come un pulviscolo d’oro.

Dello stupido mondo antico

e del feroce mondo futuro

era rimasta una bellezza che non si vergognava

di alludere ai piccoli seni di sorellina,

al piccolo ventre così facilmente nudo.

E per questo era bellezza, la stessa

che hanno le dolci ragazze del tuo mondo…

le figlie dei commercianti

vincitrici ai concorsi a Miami o a Londra.

Sparì come una colombella d’oro.

Il mondo te l’ha insegnata,

e cosi la tua bellezza non fu più bellezza.

Ma tu continuavi a essere bambina,

sciocca come l’antichità, crudele come il futuro,

e fra te e la tua bellezza posseduta dal Potere

si mise tutta la stupidità e la crudeltà del presente.

La portavi sempre dietro come un sorriso tra le lacrime,

impudica per passività, indecente per obbedienza.

Sparì come una bianca colomba d’oro.

La tua bellezza sopravvissuta dal mondo antico,

richiesta dal mondo futuro, posseduta

dal mondo presente, divenne un male mortale.

Ora i fratelli maggiori, finalmente, si voltano,

smettono per un momento i loro maledetti giochi,

escono dalla loro inesorabile distrazione,

e si chiedono: “E’ possibile che Marilyn,

la piccola Marilyn, ci abbia indicato la strada?”

Ora sei tu,

quella che non conta nulla, poverina, col suo sorriso,

sei la prima oltre le porte del mondo

abbandonato al suo destino di morte.

– Pasolini.

(The English translation for the above poem is in the clip from La Rabbia, the film from which it is taken).

posted by Dixie Turner

In Anticipation of:

Brush-up your Marilyn knowledge by watching the real thing.

For instance, The Prince and the Showgirl (My Week With Marilyn is based around the shooting of this film).

For something a bit weightier, try The Misfits also starring Clark Gable and Montgomery Clift.

Also, the all-singing, all-dancing Video City favourite (yes, I mean you, Tom…), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (also fantastic for a great, wise-cracking Jane Russell):

By Dixie Turner