Category Archives: Movies

Jack Cardiff Documentary on DVD

Marilyn-signed photo, given to Jack Cardiff

Cameraman: The Life and Works of Jack Cardiff is a new documentary about the Englishman who became Marilyn’s favourite cinematographer after they collaborated on The Prince and the Showgirl in 1956.

Cardiff went on to direct his own movies. Had he directed Marilyn instead of Olivier (with whom she famously clashed), filming of Showgirl might have been a very different experience. Nonetheless, Marilyn did some of her finest acting in this gentle period comedy, and she never looked lovelier.

My tribute to Jack Cardiff, who died in 2009 – over here

A Lesson from Marilyn

Jon Dosa of Palm Springs, former TV talk show producer, will forever remember what Marilyn Monroe taught him about sex. Well, who wouldn’t?

Monroe was 35. Dosa was 19 when he snuck onto the set at Harrah’s in Reno, Nev. “The Misfits” was shooting.

The most beautiful creature he had ever seen was on a slant board awaiting her next scene, unblinking and staring straight ahead.

Nervously, young Dosa edged toward Monroe. “Standing within inches of her luminescent face,” Dosa said, “her lovely, vacant, blue-green eyes made contact with my soul.”

He told the blonde goddess the usual pronouncements about enjoying her work. Then trying for more sophisticated and intimate conversation, he said in a chummy voice, “You know, I think Jayne Mansfield depends too much on sex.”

Monroe looked at him and said, “Well, don’t discount it.”

So that was Marilyn Monroe’s advice about sex. Don’t discount it. And Dosa never has.’

Summer at the Movies with Marilyn

On the WowOwow (Women on the Web) site today, ‘Mr Wow’ enjoys some classic movies – starting with Marilyn Monroe’s ‘Heat Wave’ from There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954), as what song could be more apt in the heat of July?

Two other Monroe movies are also mentioned: Don’t Bother to Knock (1952), not really a ‘summer movie’ but a great film noir with one of Marilyn’s most affecting performances as the disturbed babysitter, Nell Forbes.

An interesting observation is made on the scene in Niagara (1953), where Marilyn, as the trampy Rose Loomis, requests her favourite song, ‘Kiss’. (Monroe had recorded her own version, which was deemed too sensuous for the movie but can found on most MM compilation albums today.)

“She wears a tight, blazing red dress, and when she walks toward the camera, pelvis thrust out, a bit of a womanly belly obvious, it is her most erotic screen moment. (Later, she would look sexy – all butt and bust – but not be sexy.)”

However, surely the ideal Monroe vehicle to watch right now is The Seven Year Itch (1955), as the comic storyline hinges on the unbearable heat of Manhattan in July, and a middle-aged man’s existential crisis when his wife and son leave the city and he attempts to seduce his gorgeous neighbour (Marilyn, of course), via the wonder of air conditioning.

Blonde But Not Forgotten

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes screens at sunset (8.30 – 9pm) on July 16 at the southeast corner of Capitol Hill’s Cal Anderson Park in Seattle.

Concessions will be sold, and a limited number of lawn chairs available for rent. Admission is free, but donations to Three Dollar Bill Cinema are happily accepted. Proceeds benefit efforts to promote LGBT film and visibility.

Three Dollar Bill Cinema

Niagara: The Dark Side

Marilyn’s star turn as the murderous Rose Loomis in Niagara (1953) makes the list of 100 Essential Female Film Performances on the PopMatters website.

“I first learned about this performance from none other than musician Tori Amos. We were talking about female acting performances that inform and inspire her work during an interview and this was one that she insisted I watch, despite my not ever really warming to Monroe as an actress: ‘I just loved that. I hadn’t been into her, but one of my friends made me watch Niagara and I watched that and I just thought that there are a lot of young women that try and be dangerous Aphrodites, but she, in this role, was really dangerous. And she was seductive. To see how a woman can use her seduction and act as if she doesn’t have a brain in her head, but really is plotting the whole thing and is destroying people’s lives.’ With that recommendation, I had to go out and at least try and see the performance through a new lens, with a different eye. You know what? Tori was right. This is much more than just an icon posturing for her disciples, this was a woman who fought for dramatically substantial parts like Rose and showing people she was more than just an image. With all of the surreally bright rainbow symbolism juxtaposed with the grittiness of Monroe’s diabolical murderess, Niagara is more than just an idol earning a paycheck, and her performance is a force of nature not unlike the film’s foreboding, omnipresent falls of the title. When Tori tells you to watch something, watch it!”

Playing Catch With Marilyn

In this extract from Just Outside the Spotlight: Growing Up with Eileen Heckart, Luke Yankee writes about his mother’s offscreen relationship with her co-star, Marilyn Monroe, during production of Bus Stop in 1956.

(Thanks to ES member Nettie for bringing this book to my attention.)

“Marilyn was crazy about my brothers. She loved to play a little game with them at night. Marilyn was constantly receiving elaborate gift baskets from agents, publicists, and studio types trying to gain her favor. After a long day of shooting, she removed the grapefruits and oranges from the basket and went out onto the balcony.

She’d call down below, ‘Mark! Philip!’

Four year-old Mark raced out onto the balcony with two year-old Philip tottering close behind. They looked up at the pretty blonde lady on the tiered balcony above.

‘Wanna play a little catch?’ Marilyn asked.

‘Okay!’ Mark replied. And so began the nightly ritual of Marilyn Monroe playing ball on the terrace, using grapefruits and oranges as their only sports equipment. First, Marilyn threw a grapefruit. Mark caught it with pride. Next, an orange to Philip. Of course, at two, he couldn’t catch anything, so the fruit rolled onto the balcony below and off the edge to the pool deck, five flights down.

‘Marilyn,’ Mama would say, ‘it’s very sweet of you to do this, but really, you don’t have to.’

‘Are you kidding?’ Marilyn replied. ‘It’s my favorite part of the day! Besides, Vitamin C is very important for growing boys. They have to have their citrus!’

After a few days of this game, during her nightly phonecall to my father in Connecticut, Mama remarked, ‘Oh, sure, Marilyn’s playing catch with the boys on the terrace again. They’re having the time of their lives. And guess who’s gonna have her raggedy ass down at the pool at two in the morning picking up all those goddamn grapefruits and oranges? It ain’t Miss Monroe, that’s for sure!’ “