Kim Morgan On Understanding Nell (and Marilyn)

As reported last week, Don’t Bother To Knock has been released on Blu-Ray. Film critic Kim Morgan a longtime friend of this blog, has reviewed it for the latest issue of Kill Or Be Killed magazine, which you can order here.

“It’s a heartbreaking portrait, and a movie that sympathises with Nell [Monroe], but the moral of the story comes somewhat at Nell’s expense – Widmark’s Jed becomes the decent man for not giving in to temptation with the damaged woman. He finally shows an ‘understanding heart.’ It’s almost heroic because in real life many men wouldn’t be sensitive enough to resist. And you know that Nell will learn that soon enough. Likely, she already has.”

US Weekly Rehashes Myths of Marilyn

Marilyn – The Untold Story, a new magazine special from US Weekly, is now on sale for $13.99. But if the potboiler headlines are anything to go by, this is for completists and the hopelessly gullible only. Of course, you could just buy it for the photos – although they don’t look rare to me! And if you’re outside the US, try Ebay.

Marilyn’s ‘Noir Night Out’ in Pittsburgh

Marilyn with Jean Hagen and Sterling Hayden in a promotional shot for ‘The Asphalt Jungle’

The Asphalt Jungle will be screened at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall in Carnegie, Pittsburgh on April 6. Doors open at 6 pm for this ‘Noir Night Out’, with a chili dinner plus drinks on offer, and the movie starts at 7 pm. Tickets can be purchased here.

The event is hosted by the former Friends of the Hollywood Theater, as the Dormont venue was purchased by the Theatre Historical Society of America in February – a contentious move, as the FOTH had been raising funds and making improvements  in the hope of buying it, Maria Sciullo reports for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Insignificant Others: Nicolas Roeg and Marilyn

Insignificance, the 1985 fantasy imagining a meeting between Marilyn, Einstein and other icons of 1950s America, is ranked sixth among director Nicolas Roeg’s thirteen films, in an article by Shane Scott-Travis for Taste of Cinema.

“These recognizable popular culture figures, in typical Roeg fashion, riff on grandiose ideas and floundering emotions. What begins as trivial digressions gains momentum and significance, buoyed by stellar performances (like Tony Curtis’s Senator McCarthy, witch-hunting endlessly in his mind, or Theresa Russell’s Monroe, who, despite her ditzy dilettante routine can still teach Einstein a thing or two about relativity).

On the surface Insignificance may not be the exacting pedigree of Roeg’s recognized masterpieces, but it’s still a vast, ingenious allegory on fame, life, love, obsession, jealousy, and substantially so much more.”

Marilyn and Miller on HBO Tonight

Arthur Miller: Writer, the new documentary from daughter Rebecca Miller, has its US television premiere on pay-per-view channel HBO tonight. Over at The Ringer, Lindsay Zoladz has penned a rather wide-ranging article about Marilyn and Arthur, including hints of what’s in the documentary.

“When Arthur Miller met Marilyn Monroe, she was crying. Or at least that’s the story he always told her, the one she repeats in footage used in the new documentary Arthur Miller: Writer: ‘As he describes it, I was crying when he met me.’ As he describes it.

Comprising home movies and interviews Rebecca shot of her father in his later years, Arthur Miller: Writer has a homey, scrapbook intimacy … Rebecca was born in 1962, just weeks after Monroe died. Imagine grilling your elderly father, on camera, on what it was like to have been with Marilyn Monroe.

The portrait of Monroe that emerges from Arthur Miller: Writer, then, is inherently lopsided and not nearly as intimate as the one we get of Miller himself. One of the hardest parts of putting together the film, Rebecca admits, was finding ways to diminish Monroe’s presence, to prevent her from completely overtaking her father’s story … Monroe always seems to be doing that—inconveniencing narratives. It’s the most potent power she’s retained after death.

Monroe has, throughout the years, been a sticking point for feminists; the many contradictions of her story do not fit cleanly into the doctrines of any of its waves. Perhaps for the best, she maps particularly awkwardly onto this moment of pop-cultural ’empowerment feminism’ …  And yet gender stereotypes are exactly what imprisoned Monroe, and what her star persona was crafted to reinforce.

‘I just thought it would be a terrific gift for her,’ he says in Arthur Miller: Writer, ‘because she’d never had a part in which she was supposed to be taken seriously. And she really wanted to do that.’

Arthur Miller: Writer is, among other things, a fresh reason to mourn the fact that Marilyn Monroe never got to be old and wise like her last husband … But maybe, at least for a fleeting moment, Miller took her seriously. In Rebecca Miller’s interviews, filmed at his kitchen table in Connecticut near the end of his life, the playwright seemed to retain a real compassion for his second wife.

‘She was witty,’ Miller says, gazing wistfully from his kitchen table in Connecticut. ‘She was making fun of the situation as she was playing it. That was the difference. People thought they could imitate her by being cute. But she was being cute and making fun of being cute at the same time. There was another dimension, which is very difficult to do.'”

Ariel Pink Plays Marilyn’s Ghost in Music Video

A ghostly Marilyn Monroe (in drag) features in a Hollywood-themed new music video, as Randall Roberts reports for the Orlando Sentinel.

“Ssion featuring Ariel Pink, “At Least the Sky Is Blue” (Dero Arcade). The multi-disciplinary artist born Cody Critcheloe, who performs as Ssion, has carved a fascinating life for himself. As a video director, he’s worked with such acts as Peaches, Kylie Minogue, Santigold and Perfume Genius; as a bandleader and producer, he crafts dense, slightly off-balance club tracks.

For his new ‘At Least the Sky Is Blue’ video, which is taken from his forthcoming album ‘O’ (May 11), he and collaborator Ariel Pink portray characters in a VCR-tinted set piece featuring a Mercedes convertible cruising through the city. Dressed in drag as the ghost of Marilyn Monroe, Pink appears as a vision being pushed along the sidewalk in a wheelchair.”

Halsman, Stern’s Marilyn in New York

Marilyn is at the centre of an exhibition of some of the world’s most iconic photographs, on display in Manhattan until May 25, as Carl Glassman reports for Tribeca Trib.

“If only size mattered, then Marilyn Monroe would be the star of this eclectic display of photographs, simply titled ‘Photo Show,’ now at the Hal Bromm Gallery. Upon entering the Tribeca art space, she greets you nearly from floor to ceiling in 10 poses, wearing that come-hither look and little else. The set of framed color photographs, faded into reddish hues, is from Bert Stern’s famed 1962 series, ‘The Last Sitting’ … While Marilyn may be the show’s dominant presence, she is just the opener in an unusual mix of artists and eras that come together in a logic all its own.

Others include … Philippe Halsman, represented by his own famous—maybe the most famous—Marilyn portrait.”

Meanwhile at Christie’s NYC, ‘Crucifix IV’, a chromogenic print by Stern from 1995, is among the lots from the Yamakawa Collection, to be auctioned on April 6.

Stephen Hawking 1942-2018

Professor Stephen Hawking has died aged 76, the BBC reports.

“The British scientist was famed for his work with black holes and relativity, and wrote several popular science books including A Brief History of Time.

At the age of 22 Prof Hawking was given only a few years to live after being diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease. The illness left him in a wheelchair and largely unable to speak except through a voice synthesiser.

Prof Hawking was the first to set out a theory of cosmology as a union of relativity and quantum mechanics. He also discovered that black holes leak energy and fade to nothing – a phenomenon that would later become known as Hawking radiation.

Through his work with mathematician Sir Roger Penrose he demonstrated that Einstein’s general theory of relativity implies space and time would have a beginning in the Big Bang and an end in black holes.”

Hawking was also outspoken on social issues, and took his unlikely place in popular culture with good humour. He made guest appearances on TV shows such as The Simpsons and The Big Bang Theory, and was the subject of The Theory of Everything, a 2014 biopic starring Eddie Redmayne (who previously played Colin Clark in My Week With Marilyn.)

Finally, Dr Hawking may have been the world’s most distinguished Monroe fan, as Gregory Benford noted in a 2002 profile for Reason magazine.

“Although I had been here before, I was again struck that a man who had suffered such an agonizing physical decline had on his walls several large posters of a person very nearly his opposite: Marilyn Monroe. I mentioned her, and Stephen responded instantly, tapping one-handed on his keyboard, so that soon his transduced voice replied, ‘Yes, she’s wonderful. Cosmological. I wanted to put a picture of her in my latest book [The Universe in a Nutshell], as a celestial object.'”

Errol Morris, who directed the 1991 documentary, A Brief History of Time, recalled discussing Marilyn with Hawking in a Slate magazine interview.

“I wanted to shoot him on a stage, so we assembled a facsimile of his office in a studio. He has all of these pictures of Marilyn Monroe on the walls. At one point, one of the pictures became unglued and fell off the wall. Stephen, of course, is clicking away and finally, he says, [synthesizer voice] ‘A FALLEN WOMAN.’

Finally, I said, ‘I figured it out, why you have all these pictures of Marilyn Monroe on the wall. Like you, she was a person appreciated for her body and not necessarily her mind.’

And he gave me this really crazy look, like, ‘What the fuck are you saying, Mr. Morris?’ He gave me this crazy look, and then finally, there’s a click, and he says, ‘YES.'”

Hawking was digitally added to this 1954 photo of Marilyn by Milton Greene, gifted to the scientist by Archive Images

Fans paid tribute today on the Facebook page, A Passion for Marilyn:

“The theoretical physicist once described his heroes as ‘Galileo, Einstein, Darwin and Marilyn Monroe.’ The last was of particular appeal to the scientist who hung posters of her and collected Monroe-related bric a brac.

‘My daughter and secretary gave me posters of her, my son gave me a Marilyn bag and my wife a Marilyn towel,’ he once said. ‘I suppose you could say she was a model of the universe.'”