Criterion’s ‘Some Like It Hot’ Reviewed

Dennis Seuling has reviewed the new Criterion Collection edition of Some Like It Hot for The Digital Bits.

“Ms. Monroe is the heart of the film as Sugar, sweet-natured despite having had her share of hard knocks. She trusts Josephine and Daphne, gets a little tipsy, and confides her insecurities to ‘the girls.’ Ms. Monroe plays the role with a natural combination of sex appeal and innocence. Her comic timing is perfect, always aware of where the joke is and hitting the right emphasis effortlessly.

This Blu-ray release, with high definition 1080p resolution, is a new 4K restoration with an uncompressed monaural soundtrack. An original 35mm camera negative was the primary source for the restoration with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Visual quality is pristine, in keeping with the Criterion Collection’s high standard for black and white releases. Detail is excellent, particularly in the nighttime car chase early in the film. Clothing patterns, strands of hair, and skin textures in close-ups stand out.

Audio is clean and clear, with dialogue coming through perfectly. In a scene that has Lemmon shaking maracas, Wilder wisely had him shake them between his lines so that the jokes could be heard. Machine gun fire is as impressive as in a modern gangster flick. Ms. Monroe’s songs, ‘Runnin’ Wild’ and ‘I Wanna Be Loved By You’, are balanced well and the singer’s sultry voice dominates.

Bonus extras on the Blu-ray release include audio commentary, three behind-the-scenes documentaries, a featurette about Orry-Kelly’s costumes, an appearance by Billy Wilder on The Dick Cavett Show, a conversation between Tony Curtis and critic Leonard Maltin, a French TV interview with Jack Lemmon, a radio interview with Marilyn Monroe, a trailer, and a booklet containing a critical essay.

Marilyn Monroe on the radio – In this 1955 interview with Dave Garroway on Monitor, Ms. Monroe discusses her role as sex symbol and the stereotyped role of the ‘dumb blonde,’ which she believes is a limited view. She discusses her plan to move to New York and her particular fondness for Brooklyn and its atmosphere. Her favorite singers are Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra (noting his new, jazzier style). Her goal is to be a good actress.”

‘Merry Marilyn’ in Turin

Another new exhibition, Merry Marilyn: Natural Elegance, Magical Charm, is now on display at the National Cinema Museum in Turin, Italy until January 28, 2019. Shoes and other Marilyn-related items from the Salvatore Ferragamo collection are featured alongside film clips and vintage magazines, with a festive vibe befitting the season. Nine of Marilyn’s films will also be screened, including Niagara and Some Like It Hot. 

Thanks to Rick at Marilyn Remembered 

“She was ‘somewhere between Chaplin and James Dean’, according to François Truffaut, to underline the talent and instinct, physicality and sensibility of an actress whose image was based not only on the absolute beauty of a seductive woman, but also on the complex personality of an actress who challenged conventions and imposed a new model. Diva of modernity, feminist in her own way, Norma Jeane Mortenson Baker, aka Marilyn Monroe, helped to dictate the new rules of the Star System, anticipating the revolutions and social changes that in a few years would have transformed Hollywood.

It is no coincidence that Edgar Morin calls her ‘the last star of the past and the first without Star System’, which she attempted to rebel against to avoid the commodification of her own image. Capricious and humorous, but able to amaze directors like Henry Hathaway and Billy Wilder with her talent, Marilyn has been proclaimed by the American Film Institute the sixth greatest actress in the history of cinema.

An inexhaustible source of inspiration for artists and scholars: from the drama After the Fall (1964) in which the playwright Arthur Miller , her ex-husband, reflects in the balance between cynicism and guilt over the diva’s suicide, in the pages of Truman Capote in Music for Chameleons (1975), from the portrait of Andy Warhol who transforms Marilyn into a pop icon; to the recent Blonde novel by Joyce Carol Oates, who describes her as a ‘beautiful child’ with a thousand insecurities.

At the glow of celluloid of the great Hollywood diva, they finally act as a counterpoint to Elton John with Candle in the Wind and Pier Paolo Pasolini, who calls her ‘little sister’, asking: ‘It is possible that Marilyn, the little Marilyn, has shown us the road?’, in a poem that – not surprisingly – is one of the most moving moments of his film La Rabbia, released in 1963, a year after her controversial suicide.”

Marilyn and the Little Dancer

Bus Stop director Joshua Logan took this charming photograph of Marilyn with Edgar Degas’ most famous sculpture at the home of William B. Goetz, Vice-President of Twentieth Century Fox, in 1956. In a new book, Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, author Camille Laurens traces the history of a modern masterpiece, as Celia Wren reports for the Washington Post.

“By creating a sculpture largely made of wax — and wearing real clothing and shoes — Degas was rejecting prevailing aesthetic rules. In the late 19th century, such a piece would have struck viewers as worthy of a toy shop or milliner’s window, not a high-art showcase. Just as shocking was the subject matter: Degas was paying tribute to one of the young Paris Opera dance trainees known as ‘little rats,’ a group that had a scandalous reputation, largely because of their generally impoverished backgrounds, which made them easy prey for lecherous men. ‘Little Dancer’ stirred controversy when it initially appeared in a Paris exhibition in 1881.”

When she first saw the Little Dancer, Marilyn was moved to tears. Art historian Monica Bowen has explored Marilyn’s love of art on her blog, Alberti’s Widow. “I have been researching stars and celebrities of the mid-20th century over the past several months,” she wrote in 2016. “Out of all of the people that I have studied thus far, Marilyn Monroe stands out as one of the people who is most interested in the Western artistic tradition.”

Marilyn and Joe’s Hollywood Hideaway

Any property with a connection to Marilyn, however spurious, will always make headlines when it goes on the market.  And as Curbed LA reports, this 4-bed, 4-bath hillside home at 2393 Castilian Drive – now on sale from Coldwell Banker at $2.4 million – served as a hideaway for Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio when their much-publicised romance began in 1952.

Joe visits Marilyn on the ‘Monkey Business’ set, 1952

Although not her official address – Marilyn moved several times in that year alone – the house (which was considerably larger than her usual bachelorette-style residences) gave her some privacy to spend time with Joe whenever he came to town. It is situated near the Hollywood Bowl in the exclusive Outpost Estates suburb, and rent checks signed by Marilyn in September 1952 and January 1953 have since made their rounds on the auction circuit.

Marilyn may also have been reminded of a previous house near the Hollywood Bowl, at 6812 Arbol Drive. It was the first home seven year-old Norma Jeane shared with mother Gladys in 1933. Unfortunately Gladys’ finances were overstretched when she bought the property, and while both were happy there at first, it would not be the dream home they both hoped for. Arbol Drive was later razed to make way for an extension of the Hollywood Bowl gardens,  but Selma Elementary School, which Norma Jeane attended at the time, is still open today.

Marilyn Calendars for 2019

With the festive season fast approaching, here’s a selection of the best Marilyn calendars (and diaries) for 2019. First of all, here’s a bumper edition of high-quality images from Hugo et Compagnie

TeNeues are offering a calendar and diary this year…

Another calendar and diary, from Italy:

This US calendar is officially licensed and approved by Marilyn’s estate.

Marilyn is also featured (with Arthur Miller) in this German literary calendar from Anfang & Aufbruch