Category Archives: Books

‘Blonde’ Movie Delayed

Photo by 'mavenberlin'

Andrew Dominik‘s big-screen adaptation of Blonde, previously said to start shooting in January 2011, may be postponed, after Casey Affleck confirmed he will be working with Dominik on a crime movie at that date, according to the Film School Rejects blog.

Blonde will be based on Joyce Carol Oates‘ 2000 novel of the same name, about the life of Marilyn Monroe. It was generally well-received by critics, with some even calling it Oates’ masterpiece. However, its reception among Monroe fans has been more mixed, because of its fairly loose relation to the facts of Marilyn’s life.

In 2001, Blonde was adapted for television, with Poppy Montgomery (Without a Trace) as Monroe. While her performance was good, the mini-series was widely considered to be a disappointment.

Poppy Montgomery as Marilyn

Last May, Dominik’s more ambitious plans to remake Blonde were outlined in Screen Daily:

Dominik, who last directed The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, explains his desire to make Blonde: “Why is Marilyn Monroe the great female icon of the 20th Century? For men she is an object of sexual desire that is desperately in need of rescue. For women, she embodies all the injustices visited upon the feminine, a sister, a Cinderella, consigned to live among the ashes.”

He added, “I want to tell the story of Norma Jean as a central figure in a fairytale; an orphan child lost in the woods of Hollywood, being consumed by that great icon of the twentieth century.”

Wild Bunch’s Vincent Maraval told Screen, “We are delighted to finally be working with Andrew Dominik who is one of the most talented young directors in world cinema today. We trust his vision to deliver us a Marilyn biopic which will not be a classic one but a modernRaging Bull which will explore one of the most iconic figures of this century. Whilst the tabloid press has grown in popularity by taking advantage of such tragedies, we at Wild Bunch are seduced by the humanity, the emotion and the tragic destiny of such a powerful character.”

Dominik’s last film as writer/director, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) was highly praised, showing dramatic flair and a keen understanding of American mythology. And Oates’ Blonde is certainly a novel written on a grand scale.

Naomi Watts is slated to star as Marilyn, and though she is a little on the ‘waiflike’ side, her earlier performances in Mulholland Drive and The Painted Veil suggest that Watts has the acting chops to evoke Monroe’s unique combination of mystique and vulnerability.

Naomi Watts

Like My Week With Marilyn, also due to be filmed shortly, Blonde boasts a gifted actress and director, but the source material is more contentious. Monroe herself is such a fabled figure in the history of cinema that the reality of her life and character is too often over-simplified.

‘It’s scary, playing someone so iconic, whom everyone feels they know,’ Watts has admitted, reports Start Movie News.

Marilyn and Mae: Great Film Comics

MM mimics Mae West, deleted scene from 'The Seven Year Itch'

‘Austerlitz notes that his biographical chapters are intended to create a conversation among comedy’s most influential practitioners. Arranged in rough chronological order, the effect is cumulative. Mae West’s brazen sexuality primps the pillow for Marilyn Monroe’s bombshell self-awareness; unlikely bedfellows Jerry Lewis and Richard Pryor somehow manage to conceive Eddie Murphy.’

Another Fine Mess: A History of American Film Comedy by Saul Austerlitz, reviewed at the Boston Globe

Isabel Keating Voices ‘Fragments’ CD

In mid-October, Farrar Straus & Giroux will bring out a book called Fragments – purported to be a work of Marilyn Monroe’s writings, poems, notes, letters from her personal archive. Isabel Keating did the audio voice of Marilyn for the Macmillan Audio version of this sure-to-be-hot book.

She did the recording of the material on the anniversary of Marilyn’s death and says: “During the sessions, a small group of us realized the fact and a collective shiver was felt and a tear was shed … Whatever anyone thinks about the book itself, even the jottings of this famous woman evoke her spirit, her mind. They show her as a woman searching and hoping to amplify her experience. She wanted to improve herself and was reaching and searching. I found the work so smart – and so fragile.”

Liz Smith on WowOwow today

Isabel Keating is an acclaimed stage actress, having played Judy Garland (Marilyn Monroe’s friend and one of her favourite singers) in the much-praised 2003 Broadway production, The Boy From Oz.

‘Marilyn Monroe, Her Shoe and Me’

This self-published book is available in paperback or online from XLibris, and Amazon of course. On the cover it’s described as a ‘novella’, yet it’s also categorised as autobiography. And I’m not sure what to make of the subtitle, ‘unbelievable truth’, either…

‘Basically this book is about the week that I spent with Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller at their apartment in New York City on East Fifty Seventh Street back in 1960 when I was a young wide eyed aspiring actor of twenty. Marilyn showed me the whole city; took me everywhere. It was and still is the most exciting week that I have ever spent with anyone. Then she revealed something to me that she had never revealed to another single soul. This book is about that week, what she revealed to me and the results of the secret that she revealed to me back fifty years ago.’

Howard Allen is a graduate of the Dramatic Workshop and an alumnus of the Herbert Berghof School of drama both of which are located in New York City. Mr. Allen also took acting classes with Stella Adler, Gene Frankel, and Lee Strasberg back in the nineteen sixties, as well as Ivor Francis and Madeline Sherwood. Mr. Allen Is a member of Screen Actors Guild (SAG) American Federation Of Television And Radio Artist (AFTRA)and Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI). In Mr. Allen’s earlier years he spent several seasons with the Louisville Theatre Guild in Kentucky and the Clarksville Little Theatre in Clarksville, Indiana. Founder of The Troupe Repertory Company in New York City, Mr. Allen left the Troupe after four years of being the director and was the founder of another repertory company, The New York City League Of Playwrights. Mr. Allen resides in New York City and now spends most of his time writing plays and novels, songs and poems while smoking his cigars and drinking his wine, reminiscing about space and time and dreaming of all that was sublime.

You can read an excerpt here

‘Colour Me Marilyn’ Reviewed


“My husband makes fun of me because I love to color.  Usually, I am coloring with a kid but there have been times when a kid stopped coloring and I just kept on going.  I really like this coloring book because I love Marilyn Monroe. The pictures are absolutely gorgeous, even before color hits the page.  I’ve almost colored all the pages, so now I need to get another one.”

Readaholic

‘My Week With Marilyn’

Michelle Williams

My Week With Marilyn, Colin Clark‘s 2000 memoir of his stint as a production assistant on The Prince and The Showgirl, the 1957 movie starring Sir Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe, will shortly be filmed with Michelle Williams as Marilyn, Kenneth Branagh as Olivier, James Jagger as Clark and Judi Dench as Dame Sybil Thorndike, according to press reports.

Clark was the son of art historian Kenneth Clark (Lord Clark of Saltwood), and his better-known brother, Alan Clark, was a Tory MP in the Thatcher government of the 1980s, whose political diaries caused a sensation when they were published in 1993.

Colin Clark’s first memoir about Marilyn, The Prince, the Showgirl and Me (1995) was well-received (Joan Collins called it her favourite book of that year.) It was based on diaries Clark claimed to have kept during filming in 1956.

Five years later, Clark published a sequel, My Week With Marilyn, which he claimed was based on a ‘lost week’ not covered in his diary. He also claimed that he and Marilyn became quite intimate at this time, even (platonically) sharing a bed.

This second volume met with considerable scepticism, not least from Alan Clark who speculated that Colin had fabricated the diaries entirely. Nonetheless, it sold well and the BBC produced a documentary narrated by Colin himself, The Prince, the Showgirl and Me, first aired in 2003, a year after his death.

Though Clark’s books make for quite an enjoyable read, some Monroe researchers have found that dates in his published diaries do not match the original production notes for The Prince and the Showgirl.

Because the source material is contentious, many MM fans are already concerned that this will not be a fair representation of the events of 1956, and in particular the personal and artistic clashes between Monroe and Olivier.

However, it must be granted that the cast and crew appear stellar. Production of My Week With Marilyn is reported to begin in the UK this September, and will allegedly be produced by the Weinstein brothers (former heads of Miramax Films) and directed by Simon Curtis (who recently helmed the BBC adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford.

Maf the Dog: Call Off the Search

‘My reporter was eager to ask Angelina Jolie about her plans to play Marilyn Monroe when they spoke at Monday’s premiere of Jolie’s new thriller, Salt. According to reports, author Andrew O’Hagan told the Edinburgh Book Festival that the star would fill Marilyn’s shoes in a film version of his novel, The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, opposite George Clooney as Frank Sinatra. But Jolie just looked bewildered. “Where did all these rumours come from?” she asked. “I haven’t heard a thing about it! I don’t even know if I’d be the best person to play her.” As to her rumoured co-star, she added, “I haven’t even talked to George about it.” An embarrassed (or incensed?) O’Hagan – whose book contains the memories of Maf, a Maltese terrier given to Marilyn by Sinatra – went so far as to issue a statement about the confusion: “Despite what was said in the unchecked stories that appeared in the papers… I made no public statement about Ms Jolie or Mr Clooney… Everything about the film has still to be decided.” Scarlett Johansson, anyone?’

The Independent

The Last Glamour Queen

Extract from Glamour: Women, History, Feminism by Carol Dyhouse

“As the 1950s gave way to the 1960s, film stars still inspired emulation – especially those stars who seemed to offer a new kind of fresh, youthful sexuality, less worldly than traditional glamour, but more intriguing than a femme-fleur. Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot and Audrey Hepburn were the icons of the time.

The most prominent screen glamour girl of the period, Marilyn Monroe, had a childlike, vulnerable quality, described by Diana Vreeland as ‘fluffy zaniness’. But Monroe herself embodied many of the contradictions of the era. In the early days of her career, photographed by Tom Kelley nude and stretched out on red satin, she came close to being labelled as ‘cheesecake’. She appeared to lack the self-possession that had distinguished many of the screen goddesses of the 1930s, and she seemed more innocent than other pin-up girls. Monroe was never the girl next door however, and could be capable of a sharp realism. ‘I guess I’ve always had too much fantasy to be only a housewife,’ she confessed on one occasion, adding, ‘Well, I also had to eat. I was never kept, to be blunt about it. I always kept myself. I have always had a pride in the fact that I was on my own.’

Perhaps one of the last high moments in the classic Hollywood celebration of glamour was when Marilyn Monroe, in a memorable public performance, sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to John F. Kennedy in Madison Square Garden in May 1962. She wore a gown by Jean Louis in nude marquisette covered with rhinestones, described by Adlai Stevenson as ‘skin and beads’. In 1999 the gown sold at auction by Christie’s for $1.2 million.”