Marilyn and the ‘Hollywood Liars’

Hollywood Menteur (or Hollywood Liar) is a new comic book inspired by The Misfits, from the French cartoonist Luz. As you may recall, a despairing Marilyn calls her cowboy friends ‘liars’ during her furious speech in the desert. It’s also the subject of an exhibition in Paris, as Jacques LeRoux tells Marilyn Remembered.

“Today in Paris, I stumbled by accident on the new show at Huberty Breyne Gallery (specialist in Comics Art). It’s the first show ever of caricaturist Luz, who just released his latest comic book … The exhibition presents the original comic strips for show and sale.

You might not have heard about Luz but here in France he is very well know because of his provocative Charlie Hebdo covers and because he is one of the few survivors of the January 7, 2015 terrorist attack and killings at Charlie Hebdo. Shortly after the attack, he decided to quit his work as a newspaper caricaturist and receded into anonymity, guarded 24/7 by government security agents.

Today, I started chatting with the gallery’s owner who told me Luz was at the opening of the show last Thursday (he came heavily guarded, what a life…) and when asked : ‘Why Marilyn?’, he said he became obsessed by Marilyn and The Misfits shortly after the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Watching the movie again and later reading all he could about its stars and the filming, he felt he could relate to the anguish and pain Marilyn was going through at the time (and that himself still goes through, for a whole different reason). And that he felt in love with her all over again.

Hollywood Menteur shows a very violent and disturbing image of Marilyn (and Monty, and Clark, and John…). Marilyn is a woman fighting for her own survival among a team of colleagues, some of them also on their way to extinction. Luz did not want to draw Marilyn in a realistic way but as a metaphor for fright and anger. Just what Luz still feels, 4 years after the Charlie Hebdo attack.

Isn’t it intriguing and moving that Luz found in a screaming Marilyn Monroe his own way of expressing his frustration over the ordeal he went through on that dreadful day at Charlie Hebdo?

One room in the show is all devoted to 8 expressionist portraits of Marilyn. Blood red.

Very intense and powerful stuff indeed…”

Cléo, Meet Marilyn (From 5 to 7)

In a tribute to filmmaker Agnès Varda, who died last week aged 90, Genna Rivieccio notes on her Culled Culture blog the parallels between Marilyn’s life and the tragic young heroine faced with a cancer diagnosis played by Corinne Marchand in Cléo From 5 to 7, the movie released just a few months before  Marilyn’s death, and which helped to launch the French New Wave.

“Although Cléo is beautiful and has a relatively successful singing career, the dark shadow potentially case by the reaper above her won’t go away, nor is it remedied by seeing a fortune teller at the outset of the movie, one who confirms all her worst fears about waiting for some potentially fatal test results from her doctor.

Distraught at first over the reading, Cléo insists to herself that ‘as long as I’m beautiful, I’m alive,’ because ‘ugliness is a kind of death’ so how can she be suffering from it if she’s not aesthetically hideous? Even so, she is aware that if she is dying, it’s only the inside that will matter now–not from a personality or ‘good person’ standpoint, but in terms of it affecting whether or not her demise is imminent. To that former notion, however, Cléo suddenly becomes hyperconscious of the vacuity of her life. Buying hats, lounging around, cursing men. What does it all mean? And what can she do to go on preserving that vacuous little life? Thus, she tells her maid, Angèle (Dominique Davray) that she’ll kill herself if it turns out to be cancer. Angèle does little to comfort her, noting that ‘men hate illness’ and that Cléo ought not to wear a new hat on Tuesday as it’s bad luck.

So, too, did Cléo, a singer who bemoans wanting to project more poignant lyrics but then grows filled with melancholy as she sings a new composition filled with too much death imagery to bear. She wants to remain as she always has been in order to survive, to feel somewhat happy: at the surface of things. Unfortunately, like Marilyn Monroe before her, the woman endlessly preoccupied with her image and looks ends up driving any potential for real and meaningful love away. And as we all know, especially Narcissus, a reflection can’t reciprocate anything, nor love or hate you as much as you do it. Cléo’s childlike [im]maturity, is, in fact, directly related to her self-obsession. In being faced with the reality that her death is imminent, however, she is forced to come to grips with certain truths both about herself and existence that she never would have otherwise.”

PS: And if you should doubt Marilyn’s influence on the nouvelle vague, this photo taken by George Barris just weeks before her death is glimpsed briefly  in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, a 1964 musical directed by Varda’s husband, Jacques Demy, and starring lifelong MM fan Catherine Deneuve. (According to IMDB, the film is set in 1957 which makes it a goof.) And in Demy’s 1963 film Bay of Angels, Jeanne Moreau donned a Monroesque blonde wig to play an unhappy divorcee (not unlike Roslyn in The Misfits) who becomes addicted to gambling.

Marilyn Book News: Broken Dreams, and More

Several Marilyn-related titles have been published in Europe recently. First, and most peculiar, is Marilyn Monroe: Broken Dreams, from Germany’s Oio Books, blending photos of Marilyn with digitally melted images. The author is named only as ‘An Idiot.’

Die Sünde der Frau (The Sins of Woman) is a German translation of Dutch author Connie Palmen’s 2017 book profiling Marilyn alongside writers Marguerite Duras, Patricia Highsmith and Jane Bowles: all of whom, Palmen believes, were rebellious women who paid a high price for freedom.

And in France, a new children’s book from the Quelle Histoire series introduces younger readers to Marilyn.

Marilyn and the Women Who Changed History

Marilyn is featured in this one-off special from Elle, joining Sarah Bernhardt, Ella Fitzgerald, and Brigitte Bardot among forty ‘Women Who Changed History‘. (Her photo was taken during a tour of Brady Airbase in Fukuoka, Japan in February 1954.) The magazine is available now in France for € 6.95.

Marilyn was also the subject of L’Autre là, la Blonde, a play starring Marie-Line Rossetti as an older Monroe, staged last week at the Balcony Theatre in Avignon.

The Misfits: Marilyn’s ‘Ghost’ Movie

Photo by Inge Morath

As The Misfits is re-released in selected French cinemas, Ludevic Beot writes for Les Inrockuptibles about its ‘morbid’ history. (Apologies for any errors in my translation…)

“This is the end of an era, the myth of the free cowboy in nature, and the great American western. In this, the screenplay of writer Arthur Miller draws a sad and particularly bleak observation of Eisenhower’s America from the late fifties, a nation that has trouble communicating and whose dream of the Founding Fathers has failed … Even today, it seems very difficult to resist the disturbing charm of this mirror work, not to be carried away by the elegiac melody of this ultimate dance with the dead. The images of Huston have captured for the last time the faces of his disappearing actors. All these elements make The Misfits one of the most beautiful ghost movies in American cinema.”