Bernard Comment: Editing Marilyn’s Words

“The way Marilyn explored her own despair. It often leaves you reeling, and it is always touching. She was very generous, endlessly giving of herself. What also struck me was the poetic brilliance of some of the writing, although the style is never affected. We know that she got her friends to read these texts, especially the writer Norman Rosten. But they weren’t designed for publication. They are intimate, but always very chaste. I was never in the slightest embarrassed as I read them. I can tell you that there are no revelations about her sex life, or about the Kennedys.”

Swiss author Bernard Comment discusses Fragments, here

Vanity Fair: Analysing Marilyn

page 14

Pardon me
are you the janitors wife

page 147
caught a Greyhound
Bus from Monterey to Salinas. On the
Bus I was the person
woman with about
sixty Italian fishermen
and I’ve never met
sixty such charming gentlemen—they
were wonderful. Some
company was sending them
downstate where their boats
and (they hoped) fish were
waiting for them. Some
could hardly speak english
not only do I love Greeks
[illegible] I love Italians.
they’re warm, lusty and friendly
as hell—I’d love to go to
Italy someday.

From a 1951 notebook, written by Marilyn during filming of Love Nest. The first line is from the script; the second may have been written during filming of Clash by Night in Monterey less than a year later, shortly after her love affair with Italian-American baseball star Joe DiMaggio began.

This and other excerpts from Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters are featured in ‘Marilyn and her Monsters’, an article for November’s Vanity Fair. A complementary piece, ‘The Writing on the Wall’, analyses Marilyn’s large, extravagantly looped handwriting (which I have often seen as a reflection of her open, generous yet somehow elusive spirit.)

Norman Wisdom 1915-2010

Sir Norman Wisdom, who Charlie Chaplin once described as ‘my favourite comedian’, has died aged 95.

Marilyn met Wisdom in 1956 while filming The Prince and the Showgirl at Pinewood Studios in England, as he told biographer Michelle Morgan:

“I was making my film A Stitch in Time*, and on several occasions she came in to watch my work. In fact, she quite unintentionally ruined a couple of takes. Obviously, of course, once the director has said ‘Action’, everyone must remain silent, no matter how funny the situation might be, but Marilyn could not help laughing, and on two occasions she was politely escorted off the set. The nicest thing that happened was that we passed each other in the hallway one lunchtime. It was crowded, but she still caught hold of me, kissed and hugged me, and walked away laughing. Everybody in the hall could not believe it, and I remember my director, Bob Asher, shouting out, ‘You lucky little swine’ – I agreed with him.”

From Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed

*A Stitch in Time was released in 1964. Perhaps Sir Norman was thinking of Up in the World (1956) or Just My Luck (1957)?

Immortal Marilyn in October

This month’s updates include Fraser Penney’s review of Keith Badman’s new book, The Final Years of Marilyn Monroe; a profile of photographer Cecil Beaton, by Betsy Brett; and Tony Plant shares a 1961 interview with Marilyn by famed Hollywood columnist Louella Parsons, discussing life after divorce.

Linda Kerridge in ‘Fade to Black’

Fade to Black, a 1980 slasher flick about a young man who becomes infatuated with a Marilyn Monroe lookalike (played by Australian actress and MM impersonator, Linda Kerridge) is reviewed today on the Retroist blog.

Here’s another take on the MM connection, from Unknown Movies:

“Then there is the part of the movie surrounding Kerridge’s character. After she misses the date she had with Binford, the movie simply forgets about her until near the end of the movie. Oh wait – there’s the scene midway through when Binford visits her during the night to do something that makes no sense when you consider how Binford has been treating everyone else that has done him wrong. In any case, it’s still somewhat jarring to see her character suddenly appear again after being forgotten about for so long. Come to think of it, I think every subplot in the movie gets stretched out like this instead of playing out with a more tight feeling.”

Fade to Black‘s other claim to fame is a brief appearance by the young Mickey Rourke.

Top 5 Gangster Movies

2 – Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959) – “A parody of the gangster genre but what a film! One of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. And it has Marilyn Monroe. You must go to the store now and buy this DVD because MGM just released a 2-disc remastered version. (If you own the older version that was released a few years ago please discard and buy this disc!) The 2-disc version is anamorphic, has sharper and cleaner detail, and correct black levels (important for black & white films on DVD. Just watch Woody Allen’s Manhattan on DVD for comparison; it’s way too dark and shadowy). The second disc contains a ton of extras. Did I mention Marilyn Monroe?”

Film critic J.E. Snaveley, The Cinematheque

‘You Remind Me of Marilyn Monroe…’

It seems that Marilyn wasn’t the only actress to face the wrath of Otto Preminger, who directed her in River of No Return. Kim Cattrall (Samantha Jones in Sex and the City) told The Guardian this week:

When the veteran director Otto Preminger signed the 17-year-old Cattrall to a contract with Universal Studios, he informed her: “Darling, you remind me of Marilyn Monroe – not in looks of course, but in lack of talent.”

“Actually, he was right,” Cattrall says. “I was terribly unformed. I was this scruffy provincial with wild hair and jeans who had been raised in the wilds of British Columbia, not glamorous at all. It eventually dawned on me that, whether I liked it or not, my appearance was going to be every bit as important as my ability. It made me realise that maybe I needed to dress up a bit.”

Philip Larkin on Marilyn’s Death

“6 August 1962, 21 York Road, Loughborough, Leics.

“[. . .] Isn’t it a sad shock about Marilyn Monroe? ‘The People’ (a British tabloid newspaper) made her sound very dopey, but I was shocked all the same. ‘The Mirror’ said her fan mail had shrunk from 8,000 to 80 a week! I’m sure Hollywood is a ghastly place to work in for anyone like her, everyone wanting to screw you and get a cut for doing it, nobody really helping you.”

Extract from Letters to Monica, a collection of correspondence between the English poet, Philip Larkin, and his longtime companion, the literary professor Monica Jones, which will be published later this month.