Ian Ayres Plans Marilyn Documentary

Documentary film-maker Ian Ayres is working on a project about Marilyn, reports Screen Daily:

“Writer-filmmaker Ian Ayres, whose film Tony Curtis: Driven To Stardom is on Wide’s Cannes slate, is at work on a revisionist feature documentary about Cannes postergirl Marilyn Monroe.

Ayres has already spoken to and filmed many Monroe associates, among them Don Murray (co-star of Bus Stop), Stanley Rubin (producer of River of No Return), and Hugh Hefner, and Susan Bernard (daughter of glamour photographer). The director has also interviewed Monroe’s close family members.

‘We interviewed Marilyn’s first foster sister, Nancy Bolender, who also has Marilyn’s first nude photo which she is letting us use in the film. It’s a baby photo of Marilyn,’ Ayres said.

The late Tony Curtis features in the Marilyn doc. There is also rare footage of Monroe as a 15-year-old.

The Monroe documentary is currently shooting under the provisional title Marilyn: Birth Of An Icon.”

Ayres spoke to The Damned Interviews about the project, and his friendship with John Gilmore, author of Inside Marilyn Monroe.

“During interviews for the Tony Curtis film, people kept sharing unknown things about Marilyn Monroe. So I decided to make a bonus called ‘All About Marilyn’ but found the most insightful stuff could only be cut down to 33 minutes. Then I realized Marilyn mattered too much to me to be a mere bonus. So now I’m in the process of making the documentary on her that I’d always hoped someone would make. It’s a respectful, loving one that’s feature length! There is so much more to Marilyn Monroe than any documentary has ever brought to life. From the interviews we already have, I’m convinced this will be the ultimate Marilyn Monroe documentary. Marilyn Monroe was a great artist. Many consider her a genius who, through this film, will finally be shown the respect she definitely deserves. She has my respect. That’s for sure!

John’s (Gilmore) not the type to talk for hours. I had to keep asking him questions. He was most kind and patient with us during the interviews, especially the recent one about Marilyn Monroe. We lost a major part of the interview due to a technical problem and hoped John wouldn’t mind re-doing it. We were holding our breaths when we asked. And John proved to be very understanding. Not only did he repeat the entire lost section of the interview, he became even more detailed in his spontaneous eloquence. I felt as if Marilyn were right there with us, too.”

Mailer’s Marilyn Reissued

Norman Mailer’s 1973 book, Marilyn, will be reissued by Virgin Books as a paperback and e-book on July 19, reports The Bookseller. Serial rights have also been sold, though it’s not clear whether this new edition will be illustrated.

Mailer’s Marilyn is currently available via Kindle for £3.18 (see cover image above.) And Taschen’s deluxe 2011 book, Marilyn Monroe, with text by Mailer and photos by Bert Stern, is also being republished – albeit in a more affordable trade format – this July.

Misfit: A Novel

Misfit is a novel about Marilyn’s final days by author Adam Braver, whose previous book, 22 Nov, 1963 – based on the assassination of President Kennedy – was critically acclaimed. He has also written novels about Sarah Bernhardt and Abraham Lincoln. Misfit: A Novel will be published by Tin House Books in August, and is available to pre-order now from The Book Depository.

“Melding facts with imagination, Misfit is centered around the last weekend of Marilyn Monroe’s life, which, wanting to get away from the stress of a lawsuit filed against her by Twentieth Century Fox, she spent at Frank Sinatra’s resort, the Cal Neva Lodge, in Lake Tahoe. Using this weekend as a springboard, the novel explores moments throughout Monroe’s career when, faced with various opportunities, she altered her persona—from her days as a child, to her marriages with Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller, to her studies with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio, and, finally, to her role in the film Miller wrote for her, The Misfits.”


UPDATE: Here’s my review on Goodreads

“Many novelists have tried to depict Marilyn Monroe in their fiction, often with poor results. Adam Braver, however, avoids the exploitative route and instead creates a sensitive inner life for his heroine. It is set a week before her death at Frank Sinatra’s Cal-Neva lodge, with flashbacks to her early life, marriages and movies. Braver uses a variety of perspectives but the central focus is on Marilyn. Sometimes it is almost so cerebral as to be almost obtuse, but when he gets it right, Braver portrays Monroe with humanity and flair.”

Milla Jovovich as Marilyn

Model turned actress Milla Jovovich (Resident Evil) posed in an MM-inspired shoot for photographer Ellen Von Unwerth at Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont recently. The pictures, and accompanying interview, are published in French magazine Madame Figaro.

How did you create the character of Marilyn?

Ellen has a pretty crazy sense of humor. We went partly for Marilyn’s look, with the stylist, then we forced the line: a stronger makeup, messier hair, bigger cleavage, like Jayne Mansfield. Distance between fun and great affection for the character.

You just turned 36, the age at which Marilyn committed suicide. Do you feel close to her?

Apart from having worked with Richard Avedon, I had never thought about other things in common with Marilyn. Like the fact that she was a model before becoming an actress … It fascinates me, necessarily, as it touches me. From her image, you could not guess the horrors she crossed personally and professionally. Reduced to the status of sex symbol in ‘Dumb Blonde’ comedies, when she was a great dramatic talent. At the same age, I am relieved not to have known that way. Today, one can succeed as an actress without being subject to the studio system.”

Marilyn Goes Global

A series of lurid allegations from celebrity muckraker Darwin Porter’s forthcoming book, Marilyn at Rainbow’s End, are published in this week’s Globe. Most of these rumours are nothing new, and some I find hardly believable. You can read the article here.

Among his claims are that Marilyn had lesbian affairs with Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich and Elizabeth Taylor; that Marilyn aborted JFK’s lovechild; and that she had an ’emotional hotel summit’ with first lady Jackie Kennedy days before her death.

‘Just What Was Marilyn Monroe Saying?’

Jeff Nilsson takes a fascinating look back at Marilyn’s conversations with Saturday Evening Post reporter Pete Martin, who coined the term ‘Monroeisms’, proves once again that her genuine quotes are wittier than fakes. (Their interviews were later published in book form, as Will Acting Spoil Marilyn Monroe?)

“By 1956, Marilyn Monroe had earned a national reputation for being a ‘star,’ a ‘celebrity,’ a ‘sex symbol,’ and… a ‘dumb blonde.’ This last attribute came from the popular assumption that a woman with such a strong sensual nature must be ignorant. It was reinforced by the movie roles in which she played dim-witted ladies. Partly, too, it was Marilyn’s speech, delivered in a high, breathy voice that made her sound continually startled. And it wasn’t helped by many of the things Marilyn said without thinking.

But many of her sayings were well thought-out before uttered: the Post staff interviewer called them ‘Monroeisms.’ Sometimes they were baffling, but they were usually amusing and containing a double meaning.

In truth, Marilyn was continually thinking up these quotable lines. A senior publicity agent [whom Pete Martin referred to as ‘Flack Jones’] told Martin that she was a skilled ad-lib artist. ‘She makes up those cracks herself. Certainly that “Chanel Number 5″ was her own.'”

Fifty Years of ‘Happy Birthday’

Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of Marilyn’s ‘Happy Birthday Mr President’ performance for John F. Kennedy. Cultural historian Martin Kemp writes about the event for Oxford University Press.

“In a glittering faux-nude dress tighter than her own skin and enveloped in a soft fur wrap, that most desirable of female bodies shuffles with exaggerated mini-steps towards the podium, like a penguin on speed. Her floss hair has long given up any pretence to organic life. She is unwrapped by Lawford and ups the sexual ante with mute lip squirming directed at the microphone, which she holds tenderly like a living member. Everything is comically kitsch yet irresistibly powerful.

‘Happy Birthday to you…’ The little girl’s voice haltingly rings out, quietening the raucous auditorium — a ghostly and troubling echo of a past innocence. The reality is a deadly cocktail of her own desperate desirability and the blood-sucking exploitation of the society that made her. A monstrous tiered cake, flaming with the requisite number of candles like a funeral pyre, is borne in on a stretcher, shoulder-high. Her death was to arrive at the age of 36 in a little over two month’s time.”

Michelle Morgan’s Monroe Biography Published

Photo by Fraser Penney

Michelle Morgan’s truly definitive, fully updated Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed is officially published in the UK today (though it entered the Top 20 at WH Smith two weeks ago.) Michelle writes about the experience in her column for the Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph, while an interview with John Griff on BBC Radio Northampton is available on i-Player for 6 more days. (Michelle’s spot is 15 minutes in.)