Camel Racing in Virginia City

Rodeo scene, ‘The Misfits’

“These races started in 1960 when the San Francisco Chronicle and the Phoenix Sun challenged each other to a race. The winner was Hollywood director John Huston, who was filming The Misfits nearby. Two stars of the film, Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable, were among the spectators as camels ran a 100-yard dash through the middle of this Comstock Lode town.” – Wall Street Journal

(I suspect that this event may not have been quite so enjoyable for Marilyn, who like her character, Roslyn, was acutely sensitive to the welfare of animals.)

MM Film Season at Warhol Museum

There could hardly be a more perfect setting for a Marilyn Monroe movie season than the Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh. The screenings accompany the Marilyn: Life as a Legend exhibit, which runs from October 23 through to January 2.

Nice to see two of Monroe’s lesser-known films on schedule: Don’t Bother to Knock (a 1952 thriller containing one of Monroe’s most impressive dramatic performances) and River of No Return, a visually arresting Cinemascope western from 1954, with some great musical numbers from Marilyn (though a bit light on realism!)

November 12, 2010

Don’t Bother to Knock(1952) 76 min. Directed by Roy Ward Baker

Niagara (1953) 92 min. Directed by Henry Hathaway

November 19, 2010

River of No Return(1954) 91 min. Directed by Otto Preminger

December 3, 2010

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes(1953) 91 min. Directed by Howard Hawks

How to Marry a Millionaire(1953) 95 min. Directed by Dir. Jean Negulesco

December 10, 2010

Some Like It Hot(1959) 120 min. Directed by Billy Wilder
Pittsburgh author and journalist Barry Paris will introduce the film.

December 17, 2010

The Misfits(1961) 124 min. Directed by John Huston

Revamping Marilyn’s Cable-Knit Sweater

‘You fellows are always talking about sweater girls. I don’t know what the fuss is about. Take away their sweaters and what have they got?’ – Marilyn Monroe, 1952

French designer Gerard Darel, who acquired Marilyn’s famous cable-knit sweater in the Christies’ auction of 1999, has used it as the inspiration for his autumn collection – though as you can probably tell, his model isn’t blessed with Marilyn’s sumptuous curves.

Marilyn finally whipped off her sweater to reveal a sheer black leotard, after singing ‘My Heart Belongs to Daddy’ in the 1960 musical, Let’s Make Love, co-starring the French-Italian singer and actor, Yves Montand.

‘I Was Marilyn Monroe’s Doctor’

“During the days immediately preceding her operation, I saw Marilyn two or three times daily. Often she would be sitting moodily as I entered, but as always she suddenly seemed cheered whenever anyone came to see her. Sometimes she would sitting and gazing out at the skyline visible from her room’s window. When she did, her mood seemed to be that of a caged wilting fawn yearning to return to a freer life outside.”

Dr Richard Cottrell, who treated Marilyn in 1961  when she had gallbladder surgery, writing in Ladies’ Home Companion (1965.)

Thanks to Suus-Marie at Everlasting Star

‘Blonde’ Movie Delayed

Photo by ‘mavenberlin’

Andrew Dominik‘s big-screen adaptation of Blonde, previously said to start shooting in January 2011, may be postponed, after Casey Affleck confirmed he will be working with Dominik on a crime movie at that date, according to the Film School Rejects blog.

Blonde will be based on Joyce Carol Oates‘ 2000 novel of the same name, about the life of Marilyn Monroe. It was generally well-received by critics, with some even calling it Oates’ masterpiece. However, its reception among Monroe fans has been more mixed, because of its fairly loose relation to the facts of Marilyn’s life.

In 2001, Blonde was adapted for television, with Poppy Montgomery (Without a Trace) as Monroe. While her performance was good, the mini-series was widely considered to be a disappointment.

Poppy Montgomery as Marilyn (2001)

Last May, Dominik’s more ambitious plans to remake Blonde were outlined in Screen Daily:

“Dominik, who last directed The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, explains his desire to make Blonde: ‘Why is Marilyn Monroe the great female icon of the 20th Century? For men she is an object of sexual desire that is desperately in need of rescue. For women, she embodies all the injustices visited upon the feminine, a sister, a Cinderella, consigned to live among the ashes.’

He added, ‘I want to tell the story of Norma Jean as a central figure in a fairytale; an orphan child lost in the woods of Hollywood, being consumed by that great icon of the twentieth century.’

Wild Bunch’s Vincent Maraval told Screen, ‘We are delighted to finally be working with Andrew Dominik who is one of the most talented young directors in world cinema today. We trust his vision to deliver us a Marilyn biopic which will not be a classic one but a modern Raging Bull which will explore one of the most iconic figures of this century. Whilst the tabloid press has grown in popularity by taking advantage of such tragedies, we at Wild Bunch are seduced by the humanity, the emotion and the tragic destiny of such a powerful character.’”

Dominik’s last film as writer/director, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) was highly praised, showing dramatic flair and a keen understanding of American mythology. And Oates’ Blonde is certainly a novel written on a grand scale.

Naomi Watts is slated to star as Marilyn, and though she is a little on the ‘waiflike’ side, her earlier performances in Mulholland Drive and The Painted Veil suggest that Watts has the acting chops to evoke Monroe’s unique combination of mystique and vulnerability.

Naomi Watts

Like My Week With Marilyn, also due to be filmed shortly, Blonde boasts a gifted actress and director, but the source material is more contentious. Monroe herself is such a fabled figure in the history of cinema that the reality of her life and character is too often over-simplified.

‘It’s scary, playing someone so iconic, whom everyone feels they know,’ Watts has admitted, reports Start Movie News.