Julien’s Auctions are holding a one-day sale featuring 115 Marilyn-related lots (including several movie costumes) on November 1st, as part of their Legendary Women of Hollywood event. These items will be also be showcased in the lobby of London’s May Fair Hotel from September 24 until October 21. A catalogue for this auction, Property From the Life and Career of Marilyn Monroe, is now available to order here, for $75 plus shipping.
Blogger Robert Horvat has listed his top 10 Marilyn movies on the Rearview Mirror site. With Some Like It Hot, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and How to Marry a Millionaire heading the list, it’s a great selection – and Robert has also reviewed Niagara, Blondes and Bus Stop separately. (Personally, though, I would choose Clash By Night, Don’t Bother to Knock and The Prince and the Showgirl over The Asphalt Jungle, River Of No Return and There’s No Business Like Show Business.)
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes will be screened at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) on August 22 at 7 pm, with an introduction by the writer Bim Adewumni, who explains how the 1953 classic inspired her love of film.
In a blog post for the 25 Years Later site, J.C. Hotchkiss looks back at Marilyn’s comedic roles in Monkey Business, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, The Seven Year Itch and Some Like It Hot.
“The ‘dumb blonde’ has more depth than you would first think. As someone who has played this ingénue of a character, the ‘ditzy’ blonde needs to know herself. She needs to know the jokes but is NOT the joke. She needs to command the scene, but not be so childlike that the audience stops rooting for her and gets annoyed with her immaturity. Marilyn navigated this fine line throughout her career …
Marilyn fought for a long time to be taken seriously in the acting arena in which she desperately wanted to excel and to be a true actress, not just a pretty face. I believe all these performance showcase that brilliance … To me, she was more than just a beauty. In fact, the internal struggles she was fighting throughout her life made these performances even that much more poignant …
Marilyn was a trendsetter without even trying to be. She just wanted to make people happy, sometimes at the detriment of her own well-being. At least we have her bright smile and contagious laughter on celluloid whenever we need to laugh and remember just how funny and beautiful she was; to remind us of who Marilyn Monroe was and the legacy she wanted us to remember. “
The Palm Springs Cultural Centre is hosting a summer season of Marilyn’s movies each Wednesday at 7 pm, with Niagara on July 10; followed by Gentlemen Prefer Blondes on July 17, How to Marry a Millionaire on July 24, and Some Like It Hot on July 31. On Wednesdays at 7 through August, catch The Seven Year Itch, Bus Stop, Let’s Make Love and Monkey Business. And finally, the retrospective winds up in September with Don’t Bother to Knock and The Misfits.
“Beat for beat, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes just might be the single funniest film I’ve ever covered for this column,” Caroline Siede writes in the latest entry for her ‘When Romance Met Comedy’ series at AV Club.
“So much of what makes the filmwork ultimately comes down to just how fantastic Monroe and Russell are in it, both individually and as a duo. Russell was the bigger star at the time and commanded the higher salary, but this is one of the key films that launched Monroe into the Hollywood stratosphere and established her signature ‘dumb blonde’ persona. I could fill this whole column just listing off the genius comedic scenarios that [Howard] Hawks and [Charles] Lederer dream up, and that Monroe and Russell flawlessly deliver. One of my favorites is a sequence where Lorelei tries to escape a locked room via a porthole window, which becomes a great showcase for Monroe’s pitch-perfect comedic timing and Hawks’ clever eye for physical comedy.
Lorelei’s obsession with diamonds is both a funny comedic runner and the film’s most pointed piece of satirical commentary. As Lorelei sees it, if the world is going to objectify her anyway, she might as well get some financial benefit from it—especially since she’s learned firsthand that diamonds won’t betray her in the way that men so often do.
Like the best satires, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes heightens cultural dynamics to the point where you can’t help but see the absurdity in them. Yet it does so in a way that always gives Lorelei and Dorothy the comedic upper hand, rather than forcing them to be the butt of the joke. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes imagines a world where women are allowed to be as open and unembarrassed about their desires as men—whether that’s Dorothy’s interest in ‘a beautiful hunk o’ man’ or Lorelei’s proclivity for wealthy beaus. They never waiver in their directness about asking for what they want, nor from their loyalty to one another. In the end, they’re rewarded for their ingenuity, not punished for it.
There’s a sort of loosely accepted myth that cultural progress is linear—that of course a movie made in 1953 would be more sexist than a movie made today. Yet once you lock into the satirical tone beneath its surface-level pleasures, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes refutes that idea in nearly every scene. It’s both an old-fashioned romp and a shockingly progressive ode to female independence, sexual agency, and camaraderie. Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but—as this romantic comedy sees it—so is the woman who will happily throw on her finest evening wear and upend the patriarchy with you.”
“Boasting a Tomatometer Score of 98 percent and an Audience Score of 83 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, this 1953 release is a must-see.
The New Yorker‘s Richard Brody said, ‘Howard Hawks adds sly sexual insinuation to the blatantly sexual antics of Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in this scintillating 1953 adaptation of the stage musical based on Anita Loos’s novel,’ while David Fear of Time Out noted, ‘You won’t find a more elegant take on ’50s va-va-voom vulgarity or a more joyous paean to the cheesecake self-empowerment of two little girls from Little Rock.'”
On Marilyn’s 93rd birthday, Sophia Waterfield aggregates online ratings from Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes to gauge the 10 highest scoring Monroe movies with critics and audiences today in a post for Newsweek. The results are surprising, with her dramatic roles in Don’t Bother to Knock and The Misfits tying for first place; followed by Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and The Asphalt Jungle, with perennial favourite Like It Hot coming in fifth. The ranking continues with All About Eve, Monkey Business, The Seven Year Itch, Niagara, and How to Marry a Millionaire.
Meanwhile on the Gold Derby website, Zach Laws and Chris Beachum pick their top 15, with Some Like It Hot, The Misfits and The Seven Year Itch on top. Three more of my favourites – Bus Stop, Clash By Night and The Prince and the Showgirl – occupy the 5th, 13th and 14th places respectively, with River Of No Return ranked 11th and There’s No Business Like Show Business at 15th. (Of all Marilyn’s major movies, Let’s Make Love is the only one not to make either list.)
My Week With Marilyn, the 2011 movie about her time in England, returns to Netflix today. Michelle Williams, who won a Golden Globe for her performance as Marilyn, is currently starring choreographer Gwen Verdon in the HBO series, Fosse/Verdon. Born in Culver City, California in 1925, she married journalist James Henaghan in 1942, but left him after the birth of their son Jimmy. (Henaghan later interviewed Marilyn on several occasions, and wrote a tribute to her for Parade magazine in 1971, which you can read here.)
Verdon later worked as an assistant to choreographer Jack Cole, coaching stars like Lana Turner, Rita Hayworth, Betty Grable, and Marilyn (seen above with Jane Russell on the set of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and rehearsing for There’s No Business Like Show Business.) In 1953, Verdon starred in the Broadway production of Can-Can, winning her first Tony award. (Marilyn would later be offered the lead in Fox’s big-screen adaptation, but the role was ultimately played by Shirley MacLaine.)
In June 1955, Marilyn saw Gwen performing in her latest hit musical, Damn Yankees, at the 46th Street Theatre. Gwen returned to Hollywood in 1958 to film the movie version. She married choreographer Bob Fosse in 1960, and returned to Broadway in Sweet Charity (1966.) Although she and Fosse separated in 1971, they never divorced and continued working together on Chicago (1975), and the 1979 movie, All That Jazz. She also appeared in films like The Cotton Club (1984) Cocoon (1985) Alice (1990), and Marvin’s Room (1996.)
In 1999, Gwen was the artistic consultant on Fosse, a Broadway musical tribute to her former partner, who had died in 1987. Gwen Verdon passed away in her sleep at the home of their daughter Nicole Fosse in Woodstock, Vermont in October 18, 2000. That night at 8 pm, Broadway dimmed its lights in her honour.
When Argentine actress Camila Morrone turned out for the Cannes premiere of Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood this week, she wore a Bvlgari Cinemagia necklace – inspired by Marilyn’s performance of ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, as Nafeesa Saini reports for Prestige Online. Although rising star Camila, there to support boyfriend Leonardo DiCaprio, has been compared to screen goddess Sophia Loren, she eschews glamour in her latest film, Mickey And The Bear. But as a recent AFP interview reveals, her Monroe homage is no accident…
“Morrone looks up to Charlize Theron — another former catwalk beauty, who won an Oscar for Monster — though she has a soft spot for Marilyn Monroe who ‘never stopped trying to be a good actor… All she wanted was for someone to say she had talent.'”