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.

Marilyn: The Personal Archives

SYNOPSIS: There is no more recognized actress of the twentieth century than Marilyn Monroe. She starred in some of the greatest films ever made and had relationships with some of the most famous men in the world. Even after death she has continued to be surrounded by interest and controversy. Through over 170 beautiful photographs and approximately 20 rare and removable facsimile documents, “Marilyn Monroe: The Personal Archive” will uncover the private life of the star, revealing her crippling stage fright, insecurity, difficult childhood and her ambition to be the greatest actress the world had ever known.

CONTENTS: A Child at Heart; War Bride; Goodbye Norma Jeane; The Talk of Hollywood; Gentlemen Prefer “Dumb” Blondes; A Guy Named Joe; The Eight-Year Itch; The Egghead and the Hourglass; Some Like it Hot; The Misfit; Something Had to Give; A Bright Future Ended.

Cindy De La Hoz is a film historian who has written extensively on cinema and legendary cinematic figures. Her books include ‘Lucy at the Movies’; ‘A Touch of Grace: How to Be a Princess, the Grace Kelly Way’ and ‘Lana: The Memories, the Myths, the Movies’, which Leonard Maltin called “one of the best books about a star I have ever read”. Cindy also wrote Marilyn Monroe: Platinum Fox.

When Marilyn Hid From Norman Mailer

“In a few clips about Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe, the narrator states that Mailer had visited the Miller home, but Marilyn was not there. It turned out she was upstairs sequestered in a bedroom because she did not want to meet Mailer.”

Carole Mallory’s review of a new documentary, Norman Mailer: The American, alludes to Mailer’s fruitless pursuit of Marilyn Monroe, then married to his literary foe, Arthur Miller. After her death, Mailer would make Monroe the subject of two bestselling, if controversial books: the ‘factoid’ biography, Marilyn, and a fictional memoir, Of Women and their Elegance, both lavishly illustrated; and finally an off-Broadway play, Strawhead, in which Mailer’s daughter, Kate, played Marilyn.

‘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 (2001)

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 modern Raging 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

Marilyn mimics Mae West in a 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.

‘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.”