All posts by marina72

‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ a Rom-Com Winner

Marilyn smooches with Tommy Noonan in 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes'
Marilyn smooches with Tommy Noonan in ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes lies under ‘G’ in an A to Z of Romantic Comedy posted by A.V. Club. Interestingly though, it is Marilyn’s onscreen friendship with Jane Russell that gets the plaudits, not their respective squeezes. A female buddy movie and a musical burlesque, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is multi-faceted. While perhaps not quite so raucously funny, I’d argue that How to Marry a Millionaire – which Marilyn starred in directly after Blondes – is another fine example of the classic Hollywood rom-com.

“Gentlemen Prefer Blondes rises merrily into the clouds, a lighter-than-air concoction of whimsy and screwball absurdism. Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell give note-perfect performances … Monroe’s naïve gold-digger (and killer performance of ‘Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend’) is what sticks with most people, but Howard Hawks’ masterful orchestration of all the narrative wheels—especially Russell’s exasperated efforts to protect her BFF from disaster—is what keeps the film timeless.”

Audrey Flack’s ‘Heroic’ Marilyn

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Heroines, an exhibition by artist Audrey Flack, will be on display at the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio, from February 14-May 10, and includes a portrait of Marilyn among a range of female icons from Medusa to Mother Teresa.

P14513Marilyn has been a recurring subject in Flack’s long career. One of her early ‘photorealist’ paintings of Marilyn graced the first edition cover of Carl Rollyson’s Marilyn Monroe: A Life of the Actress. By contrast, the Heroines portrait – inspired by Marilyn’s 1953 photo session with Ben Ross, and first seen in 2011 – is moody and bleak.

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‘Flack’s drawing of Marilyn Monroe conveys a sad version of the sex symbol as a 30-something dependent on drugs and alcohol, lost and faded,’ Rebecca S. Nieminen writes in The Vindicator. ‘Unlike glossy, glamorous renditions of the late movie star, Flack’s depiction of Monroe requests sympathy. ‘

Marilyn: An Icon in the Making

 

Exhibition curator Bianca Acimovic
Exhibition curator Bianca Acimovic

Marilyn: Celebrating an American Icon – the touring exhibit focusing on the imagery that made MM go global – is due to open at MAMA Albury in Australia on February 12, with a late addition of rare photos depicting a young Marilyn, taken by Art Meyers in Chicago during the Love Happy promotional tour of 1949, and provided by a local businessman, Colin Glassborow, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

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“Mr Glassborow, 71, says he was bequeathed 12 photographs of the star by his American friend Art Meyers, a freelance photographer who was hired to follow Monroe around Chicago’s Wrigley Stadium in 1949.

Later that day Meyers also photographed the then 23-year-old starlet sitting with the actor Roddy McDowall at Chicago’s infamous Ricketts’ nightclub.

Mr Glassborow, who owns Albury Building Supplies, said he met Meyers when he visited the Playboy building in Chicago in 1974. They became friends after Meyers offered to show him and his brother around Chicago, and over the years holidayed together. Meyers also visited him in Albury in 1995.

‘There are 12 altogether,’ Mr Glassborow said of the black and white photos, prints of which he started selling online via his website marilynmonroe-photos.com to help Meyers financially before the photographer died, at the age of 90, in 2010. He loaned eight images to the museum, six of which will go on display from Friday.

‘He was a freelance photographer at the time and he happened to be there … they were having a pro celebrity match with old legends and Hollywood celebrities,’ Mr Glassborow said of the Wrigley Stadium event Meyers photographed.

‘He was asked if he would take photographs at the old Ricketts’ nightclub … Al Capone used to visit there apparently.’

‘She was there with Roddy McDowall,’ he said of Monroe. ‘She’d only been in bit parts in three small movies, but the next year she got more with it and in a couple of years she was a household name, she quickly took off.’

‘A lot of people are in awe of the photograph,’ he says of the image of Monroe with McDowall, which he has had colourised and blown up, and displays in a gold frame in his secretary’s office.”

Unlikely Bedfellows? Marilyn and ‘Ulysses’

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Photo by Fraser Penney

Why does Eve Arnold’s photo of Marilyn reading Ulysses hold such perennial fascination? In an article for literary journal Kill Your Darlings, Siobhan Lyons explores this image’s iconic power. (There is one minor error in this insightful piece: Lyons claims that Marilyn was married to Arthur Miller at the time, but she wasn’t. Their romance actually began a few weeks after this photo was taken…)

“These images fascinate us because they are so out of alignment with the pervasive understanding of celebrity culture as a vapid, visually-oriented industry, working against the ‘highbrow’ terrain of capital-L Literature. But if the iconic image of Monroe reading Ulysses tells us anything, it is more about challenging our own assumptions regarding literature, and who we believe to be the ‘right’ kind of reader.

The famous Monroe photograph was featured on the cover of a 2008 issue of Poets and Writers magazine, as well as the front cover of Declan Kiberd’s 2009 Ulysses And Us: The Art of Everyday Living. In his 2008 book Women Who Read are Dangerous, Stefan Bollman notes: ‘The question, Did she or didn’t she? is almost unavoidable. Did Marilyn Monroe, the blonde sex symbol of the twentieth century, read James Joyce’s Ulysses, a twentieth-century icon of highbrow culture and the book many consider to be the greatest modern novel – or was she only pretending?’

Monroe’s love of reading is well-known – the 1999 Christie’s auction of her personal belongings included almost 400 books, and she was regularly photographed reading. Despite this, Monroe is evidently not the first person one would consider the typical ‘Ulysses reader’. And this, perhaps, is part of the problem.

The photograph, then, allows us to re-imagine the Ulysses reader – author Julie Sloan Brannon argues that the image subverts the ‘dumb-blonde’ stereotype with which Monroe is almost always associated. The image therefore works on two fronts: it forces us to abandon elitist assumptions about what kind of people read ‘difficult’ literature, while bringing Monroe to the attention of a more literary crowd.

‘Her image remains,’ [Anthony] Burgess concludes, ‘and no amount of analysis can properly explain [its] continued potency’. The continued analysis of the image, however, shows how keenly these assumptions, about who should read what kind of book, are held. While the image helps to challenge overtly sexualised readings of Monroe, it more importantly debunks myths about literature that have been based on difficulty, exclusion, and elitism.”

Monroe Six Pics Up For Grabs

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A remarkable collection of candid photos, including some never seen and taken by James Collins – an original member of the ‘Monroe Six’, the group of teenage fans who befriended Marilyn after she moved to New York – will be on sale via Heritage Auctions on February 20, the Mirror reports.

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“Marilyn moved to New York in 1955 and spent about five years in Manhattan. We all met on the street and we just sort of decided we were going to be a group. I just used any box camera I had, nothing fancy because I couldn’t afford an expensive camera.

We knew where she lived and her hairdresser [Peter Leonardi] was a friend of ours so he would tell us when she was going to an event and where she would be. Afterwards we would run to the drugstore to get our snapshots developed in multiples so that all of us could have all the shots we had taken of her.

We wanted nothing from her except the opportunity to take her picture or to get her autograph – and often she would sign on the very photographs we had just taken of her the day before. I kept them in a little satchel, but after she died I put it in my closet and left it for years.

They’re all candid photos, they show the two sides of her. By day she was this sweet, lovely girl and at night she became the movie star. But I never took them thinking they would be worth anything.”

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Advertisers Take Marilyn to the Superbowl

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Following the Snickers ad featuring Marilyn and Willem Dafoe, last night’s Superbowl included two further references to MM. The first was a coda to the Snickers ad, with Eugene Levy playing the ‘fan guy’, reports Adweek. (And if you’re wondering how Marilyn made it into the original clip, Bustle has some suggestions.)

“‘You wouldn’t have Hollywood history without the fan guy,’ Levy said in a statement. ‘It was an honor to portray one of Tinsel Town’s forgotten heroes. Marilyn Monroe might’ve been looking down at him, but every guy in America was looking up to that stage hand.'”

Meanwhile, Alfred Eisenstadt’s 1953 portrait of Marilyn – representing beauty – appeared in another Superbowl commercial for Fiat Chrysler’s Jeep brand, AdAge reports. This is not a first – footage of Marilyn was used in Bob Dylan’s Chrysler ad for the Superbowl back in 2014.

“‘Portraits,” which aired during the halftime show, looks backwards, weaving in references to Jeep’s 1941 roots as a military vehicle created for Allied soldiers in World War II. The spot uses 60 images from around the world, including photos of famous people who have links to Jeep … Ms. Monroe — who also starred posthumously in a Snickers Super Bowl ad this year — is connected to Jeep via a honeymoon trip she took to Korea with Joe DiMaggio in the wake of the Korean War.”