Marilyn, Rachmaninoff and ‘The Seven Year Itch’

Marilyn with Tom Ewell in ‘The Seven Year Itch’

“It is the second piano concerto by Rachmaninoff that is perfect. As the bell-chords that open the work move into the opening theme Marilyn Monroe comes into focus … it is a fantasy sequence.

She wears a tiger-skin dress and is smoking a cigarette. Sherman reclines at the piano in a smoking jacket that looks like it came from the closet of Hugh Hefner. The conversation is deliberately campy and fabulous.

‘Rachmaninoff… It isn’t fair… Every time I hear it, I go to pieces… It shakes me, it quakes me. It makes me feel goose-pimply all over. I don’t know where I am or who I am or what I’m doing. Don’t stop. Don’t stop. Don’t ever stop!'”

The brilliantly comic ‘Rachmaninoff scene’ from The Seven Year Itch (1955) is being discussed over at Sonic Labyrinth, a ‘blog for the eternally cool in classical music’.

Marilyn: ‘Less of an Icon, More of a Friend’

Sam Shaw, 1957
“I grew up with this picture of (Marilyn) in my bedroom. It’s a picture of her at the house in Connecticut, Roxbury where she and Miller lived and this picture of her wearing this white dress and she’s barefoot and she’s spinning and her head’s back and she’s smiling, it very natural. So my primary association of her is of that, so she’s kind of always felt less of an icon and a bit more of a friend. So that was a decent place to start.
There has never been and maybe will never be someone as beautiful as Marilyn Monroe. Like I’m not a drag queen — I’m not going to get plastic surgery to look like her. I have limitations in terms of how much I can resemble her, so instead what I can master, what I can strive for is her essence.”
Michelle Williams discusses her role in My Week With Marilyn at the Aero Theatre, Los Angeles, where a short clip from the upcoming movie was also shown.

TCM Greatest Overlooked Performances

Marilyn in ‘Bus Stop’ (photo by Milton Greene)

TCM includes one of Marilyn’s shining moments in its new list of the Top 10 Greatest Overlooked Performances. Many felt she was denied an Oscar nomination by the Hollywood establishment because of her rebellion against Twentieth Century Fox.

Marilyn Monroe as Cherie in Bus Stop (1956)

“After studying with The Actors Studio, Marilyn Monroe was determined to draw on every painful memory from her past for her role as a small town singer – dubbed a ‘chantoosie’ by her fans – courted by an idealistic cowboy.  She allowed herself to look under-nourished and performed her one musical number badly, ‘That Old Black Magic’, to capture the desperation of a woman who would never achieve her dreams.  As in her other great performance, Sugar Kane Kowalcyzk in Some Like It Hot (1959), the role is a central part of the legend of Marilyn – the beautiful, sensitive loser.  But the film’s success failed to bring her an Oscar nomination or much respect.  Reporters were more interested in signs of star temperament, as when she insisted co-star Hope Lange’s hair be darkened so as not to match hers, than the painstaking efforts she put into one of the best roles she would ever play.  Neither has the passing of time helped fans to appreciate Monroe’s performance, for many aspects of the film have not aged well.  In his dogged pursuit of his ‘Cherry,’ cowboy Don Murray now seems less romantic than criminal – a grating sexual bully.  And Cherie’s ultimate capitulation puts into question all of the dreams that made her so touching.  Beyond the sexual politics, however, the film vividly reveals what Monroe could have done as an actress had Hollywood allowed her to re-invent herself.”

Zolotow’s Marilyn: Life With the Greenes

With business partner Milton Greene, 1955

These latest extracts from Zolotow’s 1960 biography, first published in the Los Angeles Daily Mirror, recounts Marilyn’s split from husband Joe DiMaggio, and her decision to leave Hollywood; her business partnership with photographer Milton Greene and her personal relationship with his wife, Amy (Marilyn stayed at their Connecticut home in the winter of 1954-55, before moving to New York.)

Elle Fanning: Growing Up With Marilyn

Elle Fanning, 12 year-old sister of actress Dakota, stars with Stephen Dorff in Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere, set in one of her idol Marilyn Monroe’s Hollywood haunts – the Chateau Marmont Hotel. (Marilyn spent time there while filming Bus Stop in 1956.)

“I’d been there before for some interviews and photo shoots, but I hadn’t spent that much time there. Now, I feel like I know it so well. When I first got there, I was like, ‘Am I walking where Marilyn Monroe walked?'”

This month Elle tells Interview magazine about her lifelong admiration for MM:

“INTERVIEW: Is there anyone you’d really like to work with? Who was your favourite actor growing up?

ELLE: My favorite actress is Marilyn Monroe.

INTERVIEW: She’s gonna be tricky to work with.

ELLE: Yeah. [laughs]

INTERVIEW: Have you ever seen any of Marilyn Monroe’s films? Or do you just like her look?

ELLE: Yeah, I mean, of course-I love her look and everything. But I’ve seen The Seven Year Itch [1955] and I loved that. I watched that all the time when I was little. I liked the dress. I was her for Halloween when I was 7. I did the makeup and the mole and I did all the poses with blowing kisses and all that …”

Dressed as Marilyn for Halloween ’05, aged 7

Marilyn Mania in 2010

Marilyn by George Barris, July 1962

“The wild thing is that there is this convergence of Marilyn Monroe right now…She is almost more here now than when she was alive” – Pamela Clarke Keogh, author of Are You a Jackie or Marilyn?

“I think it’s that lost potential we’re intrigued by … Kind of like JFK. We’re fascinated by the short legacy they left” – Margaret Barrett, Bonham’s and Butterfield’s

More Marilyn mania at USA Today

Eve Arnold’s Marilyn: Portrait of a Misfit

“This photograph, shot in Reno, Nevada in 1960 has an incredible sense of place and of Monroe’s vulnerability. She and Arnold first worked together on a shoot for Esquire magazine in 1952 and, as Arnold says: ‘She trusted me, and the bond between us was photography … It’s rather a wonderful picture I think because of the desert sky, the desert itself … and Marilyn absolutely oblivious to the rest of us around her.’ Magnum had sent nine photographers to cover the making of The Misfits, surely the most ever, but it was Arnold’s work that really stood out. This was a looser, more intimate look than Hollywood had ever shown before in its publicity stills.”

Photographer Eamonn McCabe chooses this striking shot by Eve Arnold as one of the ten best photographic portraits in today’s Observer.