Marilyn and I, a 2010 project by photographer Yury Toroptsov, featuring MM fans worldwide posing with a dress she owned, is the subject of a new exhibition, opening at Le Bon Marche Rive Gauche department store in Paris on October 29. A bilingual catalogue will also be published, including a preface by actress Catherine Deneuve.
More details over at MM Collection Blog
Marilyn’s Last Sessions, a 2006 novel by French author Michel Schneider, about her relationship with psychoanalyst Dr Ralph Greenson, will be published in English on November 3.
The book inspired a 2009 documentary of the same name. While I felt that the film blurred fact and fiction too liberally, Schneider’s novel has, so far, been critically acclaimed. It does concern me, however, that Schneider was inspired by John Miner’s disputed transcripts of tapes supposedly made by Marilyn for Greenson, which have never been found.
Andrew O’Hagan, author of The Life and Times of Maf the Dog and His Friend Marilyn Monroe, describes Marilyn’s Last Sessions as ‘marvellous and insightful, a real vision of human delicacy, and one of the international novels of the year.’
Lisa Appignanesi, who wrote about Marilyn and psychoanalysis in her 2008 book, Mad, Bad and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors From 1800, has said that ‘Celluloid meets psychoanalysis in this riveting evocation of Marilyn Monroe’s life and ultimate suicide. As an analyst himself, Michel Schneider’s perceptions about the star’s relations with her last psychoanalyst are astute, and he writes with great flair and insight. Tender, provocative, brimming with perception, this is a novel about both our fascination with celebrity and its inner life.’
Schneider will discuss Marilyn’s Last Sessions with Appignanesi at London’s Freud Museum on November 1 at 7pm. Tickets £10/£7 concessions.
Don Murray, who made his screen debut as Marilyn’s leading man in Bus Stop (1956), presented a Best Actress award to Michelle Williams last night at the Hollywood Film Awards. The honour was for Williams’ work in general, and not for one specific role. However, Murray also praised her performance in My Week With Marilyn:
“She created some moments that were so intimately familiar to me because I spent 14 weeks with Marilyn… I know that Michelle studied everything — read every book she could find — about Marilyn… and the amazing thing is that there is not one thing in that film that is not truthful… it was just a revelation… she holds the mirror up to nature and she gets into acting that is beyond acting, that is being… Michelle’s performance made me appreciate Marilyn.”
Accepting the award, Michelle paid tribute to Monroe: “It seems to me that all that Marilyn ever wanted was to be taken seriously as an actress. She studied, she trained harder than me, and she never got the recognition that she deserved and craved. I feel very lucky tonight to experience some of that.”
This article, first published in Time on February 17, 1961, takes a compassionate look at Marilyn’s decision to enter a hospital, following her divorce from Arthur Miller and related emotional problems. It also suggests that in seeking help for her depression, Marilyn was setting a good example to others.
“In seeking help, she may have done more than the psychiatrists to win popular acceptance of a more modern view of mental illness and treatment for it.”
Thanks to Fraser Penney
Kathleen Murphy‘s essay, ‘Balls of Fire: Women in the Films of Howard Hawks’, posted today at Parallax View, includes a paragraph on Gentlemen Prefer Blondes:
‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes posits Russell and Monroe as Hawksian comrades-in-arms, professional practitioners of extreme sexual style in a world of impotent nebbishes and nerds. Critic Molly Haskell likened this charismatic duo to a pair of ace gunfighters. Given the state of manhood in this surreal, primary-colored movie (the musclebound Olympic team won’t give Russell so much as a glance as she bumps and grinds her way through “Anyone Here for Love?”), the girls’ only worthy mates are each other.’
Murphy also mentions Marilyn’s earlier role in Monkey Business:
‘This is another comic quest for equilibrium: a scientist and his wife are trapped in roles that make for a sexless, sterile marriage. Treating perpetually distracted professor-hubby Grant as though he were a retarded child, Rogers comes off as a no-nonsense mama rather than a desirable mate. When an ape accidentally discovers a formula for restoring youth, the two backtrack into cathartic adolescence and childhood—with sex-object Marilyn Monroe and lecherous old coot Charles Coburn as funhouse mirrors reflecting out-of-whack libido. As usual in Hawksian comedy, there are moments of something very like true horror, as when Rogers cradles the infant she believes her husband has become, literally.’
Read my review of Arthur Miller’s last play, Finishing the Picture – inspired by the filming of The Misfits – here
The green velour gown worn by Marilyn for her role as saloon singer Kay Weston in River of No Return (1954), has sold to a private bidder for $504,000 at the latest Julien’s Auctions event, the Daily Mail reports.
Marilyn wore the revealing dress, designed by Travilla, while singing ‘I’m Gonna File My Claim’.
This 1955 photo by Roy Schatt is among the Marilyn-related items on offer at Christie’s, South Kensington, on November 2. Also included are pictures taken by Andre de Dienes, Edward Clark, Philippe Halsman, Richard Avedon and Bert Stern.
Read my profile of the Englishman who photographed a young Monroe here or at Immortal Marilyn
Early fan reviews of MM-related books and film have been posted online. Artist Elizabeth Grammaticas attended last week’s premiere of My Week With Marilyn at the New York Film Festival:
” ‘My Week with Marilyn’ is the most heartfelt attempt to understand Marilyn Monroe that I’ve seen in a motion picture, despite at times the questionable credibility of the initial text. Michelle Williams doesn’t physically look all that much like Marilyn. Marilyn is hard to physically capture, and there are others with a greater likeness…but personality wise…Michelle finds Marilyn. I agree with other critics that Michelle falls short of…performing Marilyn performing Marilyn (ie…in her scenes recreating ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’), but at times if you blur your eyes, catch a profile, angle, a walk or an expression you see moments of candour or pain where you feel like you are actually seeing something more real than a publicity shot of the real Marilyn Monroe with a her white dress blowing up over her head. One of my favorite parts of the film is when Michelle as Marilyn says ‘shall I be her?’ and turns the Marilyn persona on. This is seen in the trailer of the film, but like the trailer of the original ‘Prince and the Showgirl’…this trailer doesn’t remotely depict what ‘My Week with Marilyn’ is about. The films are about basic interaction between very different people on a much more subtle level.’
Over at The Mmm Blog, Melinda Mason reviews Susan Bernard’s new book, Marilyn: Intimate Exposures:
“Intimacy (as the title suggests) is what Susan Bernard must have been striving for in this edition of her book. As Marilyn book collectors will be aware, Susan also published a book based on her father’s photos and journal entries called ‘Bernard of Hollywood’s Marilyn’ in 1993. While some photos are the same and many journal entries are identical, that is where the similarities end. ‘Marilyn: Intimate Exposures’ is a far superior book. It even includes a beautiful photographic print from ‘The Seven Year Itch’ in an envelope at the back so you can frame it.”
And on Goodreads, David Marshall (author of The DD Group and Life Among the Cannibals) reviews Bye Bye, Baby, a novel about Marilyn’s death by crime writer Max Allan Collins.
‘But when a historical figure is suddenly no more, (and make no mistake about it, Marilyn Monroe is a historical figure), attention should be paid. All angles concerning their passing should be looked at carefully. All research should be scrutinized. All opinions should be considered. And that should not be restricted to non-fiction attempts at understanding the incomprehensible. Fiction can be a powerful tool and this includes the fun reads. Future generations may come across Bye Bye, Baby and even if they understand the work is “just” a novel, there’s plenty here to get you thinking and rethinking, and, hopefully, that will lead them on to other books on the subject. That, as far as I am concerned, is one of the greatest services of fiction—it makes you think. And Collins more than does his share in that regard.’