‘Is The Asphalt Jungle the greatest Cincinnati movie ever?’ Jason Gargano asks in an article for City Beat. Although Marilyn’s scenes were filmed on the MGM lot in Hollywood (as was most of the movie, apart from the opening shots), she also gets honourable mention for putting the Queen City on the movie map. (Although MM appears not to have visited Cincinnati in real life, Sugar Kane – her character in Some Like It Hot – mentions a prior stint in a Cincinnati band.)
“The Asphalt Jungle is not exclusively the domain of men; it also possesses the screen debut of Marilyn Monroe, who plays Alonzo’s mistress, Angela. [John] Huston introduces Monroe, who lies lazily on a couch, with a carefully staged shot in which Alonzo (Louis Calhern) gazes down at her from above. Angela’s demeanor and visage are pure Monroe — innocence mixed with seduction.
Monroe only has a few scenes, little more than five minutes total, but her presence, much like the brief establishing shots of various Cincinnati cityscapes, leaves a distinctive impression in a movie full of them.”
Mundell Lowe, the jazz guitarist and session musician who graduated to producing film scores, has died aged 95. He was born in Mississippi, the son of a Baptist minister. After serving in World War II, he joined Benny Goodman’s band in New York, and was later hired as a staff musician by NBC. In the 1960s he moved to Los Angeles, writing themes for TV shows like Starsky and Hutch and Hawaii Five-O. He is survived by his wife of 42 years, singer Betsy Bennett.
In a 1990 interview with the L.A. Times, Lowe revealed that he had also contributed to the recorded soundtrack of Some Like It Hot. “All those movie stars think they can sing, but I don’t think they really can. I don’t think she was a singer,” he said of Marilyn. Unlike some of the great jazz vocalists he worked with – including Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Peggy Lee – she was an actress first, and singer second. And as with many who knew Marilyn only briefly, if the encounter was difficult or negative in any way, it would inevitably have shaped his opinion.
Marilyn studied with Fred Karger, Phil Moore and Hal Schaefer, and auditioned for Benny Goodman in the late 1940s. While many of her contemporaries, including Rita Hayworth, Ava Gardner and Natalie Wood were dubbed in their musical performances, Marilyn’s vocal talents were deemed impressive enough to stand alone. Her voice was at its best in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and River of No Return, and her work in There’s No Business Like Show Business was praised by Irving Berlin.
By the end of the decade Marilyn was more focused on acting, and the quality of her voice had seemingly coarsened. However, the four songs she recorded for Some Like It Hot convey the many moods of her character perfectly. Her performance of ‘I Wanna Be Loved By You’ has eclipsed Helen Kane’s original, while ‘I’m Through With Love’ is extremely poignant. She went on to star in one more musical, Let’s Make Love, delivering a wonderful cover of ‘My Heart Belongs to Daddy,’ and her recorded output (just under thirty songs) remains hugely popular today.
Fellow Travelers, a new play by Jack Canfora about the tangled lives of Marilyn, Arthur Miller and Elia Kazan, will open the summer season at the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, New York, in May 2018, Playbill reports.
This large digital print by Bert Stern – complete with Marilyn’s mark of disapproval – was sold today for $3,750 at Doyle’s of New York. The photographic auction included three other classic Stern/Monroe prints, one of which (also marked by Marilyn) went unsold.
As Midway Airport turns 90, the ChicagoSun-Times has published this library photo of a windswept Marilyn landing there in March 1959 for a promotional jaunt including a press conference at the Ambassador East Hotel, and the roadshow premiere of Some Like It Hot.
After months of speculation, the BBC has confirmed that 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets (including Marilyn’s many films for Twentieth) have been bought by Disney for $52.4bn (£39 billion.) Previous owner Rupert Murdoch purchased Fox in 1985.
Norman Norell, who became one of Marilyn’s favourite designers after Amy Greene introduced them in 1955, is the subject of a major retrospective, opening at New York’s Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) on February 9, 2018. As yet, it’s unknown whether any of Marilyn’s dresses (or similar) will be featured, but it’s a must-see for vintage style enthusiasts.
Let’s Make Love will be released on Blu-Ray for the first time by Signal One Entertainment on February 26, 2018. This 2-disc, HD transfer will be accompanied by an interview with film historian Mark Searby, the original trailer and a poster gallery.
Marilyn and Coca Cola are among the most recognisable American cultural icons. In an article for the Daily Mail, Anna Hopkins visits the Coca Cola archive managed by Ted Ryan in Atlanta, Georgia and finds images of Marilyn sipping Coke by the pool at Greenacres, the Hollywood home of silent movie comedian turned 3D photographer Harold Lloyd (seen here wearing a blue suit and his trademark spectacles.) She visited in 1953 with Jean Negulesco, supposedly to film a dream sequence for How to Marry a Millionaire. This never transpired, but footage of a seductive Marilyn purring “I hate a careless man” was used in ‘Security Is Common Sense’, a PSA for the US Air Force, warning servicemen against revealing military secrets in letters home.
Studio contract stars like Marilyn were routinely asked to endorse products, although she would do so less frequently in later years. Despite the Mail article’s claims, the Lloyd shoot does not appear to have been directly connected to Coca Cola – but the tacit promotional value was clearly welcomed, and it has since become part of their glamorous legacy. In 1951, Marilyn was filmed drinking Coke in a scene from Love Nest. And Edward Clark’s candid shot of Marilyn and co-star Jane Russell enjoying a Coke on the set of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) was revived in a 2015 company ad campaign.
Iconic photos of Marilyn by Sam Shaw, Lawrence Schiller and Bert Stern are now on display at La Galerie D’Instant in Paris until February 13, 2018. You can also order an exhibition poster online for €20.