Was Billy Wilder Marilyn’s best director? “It’s a marvel of characterization,” film studies professor Matthew Bernstein says of Some Like It Hot, as WABE reports. “Marilyn Monroe has never appeared to better advantage in any Hollywood film, because also because Wilder is an expert at using stars and their star images that are built up over time.” You can watch a zoom webinar about Some Like It Hot on June 19 at Atlanta’s The Temple, as part of a series, Up Close With Billy Wilder. (Other titles include Double Indemnity and The Apartment.)
Images from Marilyn’s 1962 Vogue shoot from the estate of photographer Bert Stern will go under the hammer as part of the June Joyfuls sale at the Four Seasons Auction Gallery in Gainesville, Georgia this Sunday, June 23, as Chris Jenkins reports for Arts & Collections.
Also on offer is this photo of Marilyn attending the Cinemascope party at the Cocoanut Grove in the Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles on January 1st, 1953 (previously owned by a friend of Stern, but wrongly described as being taken in New York in 1957); and a vintage promotional item for The Seven Year Itch, included in a collection of books and memorabilia.
Author Amanda Konkle will be signing copies of her new book, Some Kind of Mirror: Creating Marilyn Monroe, at E. Shaver Booksellers in Savannah, Georgia on Saturday, May 18, from 1 – 3 pm EDT. Amanda, who is an assistant professor of film studies and English at Georgia Southern University, has written a dynamic study of how Marilyn’s screen performances both reflected and pushed the boundaries of attitudes towards women and sex in 1950s America. (I’m currently working on a review of Some Kind of Mirror, and I thoroughly recommend it!)
Actress Misty Rowe – who played Marilyn in the splashy 1976 biopic, Goodbye, Norma Jean, and its 1989 sequel, Goodnight, Sweet Marilyn – is still treading the boards today, with a longstanding role in Always … Patsy Cline, as Christopher Berinato reports for Do Savannah.
“Imagine if you got to meet your music idol and in one magical evening, become lifelong friends with them. That is exactly what happened to Louise Seger, a divorced housewife with two children, when she befriended the legendary Patsy Cline at a concert in Houston in 1961.
‘I tell this story on stage and, as I tell it, the night they met comes alive,’ says Misty Rowe, who plays Seger. ‘It’s funny, it’s poignant, and it has some of the best singing you’ve ever heard.’
Rowe has been performing in Always … Patsy Cline for about 20 years, but she might be best known for the 19 years she spent on television’s Hee Haw as a Hee Haw Honey.
Rowe’s blonde-bombshell looks, cheerful persona and smart comic timing led to regular roles on many other television shows. She was Wendy the carhop on Happy Days, including the episode that marked Ron Howard’s directorial debut. Rowe also played Maid Marian on When Things Were Rotten, a Robin Hood spoof where she worked alongside comic greats like Mel Brooks, Sid Caesar and Dudley Moore. She made appearances on The Love Boat, Fantasy Island and Air Wolf (her personal favorite TV role).
Rowe even has the distinction of being the first actress to play Marilyn Monroe on film in Goodbye, Norma Jean. ‘Not a great film, but I was the first,’ jokes Rowe.
Rowe now lives on Callawassie Island, S.C., and is friends with the folks at Savannah Theatre. Rowe has worked with 11 different Patsys, so when she was asked to put on Always … Patsy Cline at the Savannah Theatre, she had a deep bench to choose from.”
Marilyn and Coca Cola are among the most recognisable American cultural icons. In an article for the Daily Mail, Anna Hopkins visits the Coca Cola archive managed by Ted Ryan in Atlanta, Georgia and finds images of Marilyn sipping Coke by the pool at Greenacres, the Hollywood home of silent movie comedian turned 3D photographer Harold Lloyd (seen here wearing a blue suit and his trademark spectacles.) She visited in 1953 with Jean Negulesco, supposedly to film a dream sequence for How to Marry a Millionaire. This never transpired, but footage of a seductive Marilyn purring “I hate a careless man” was used in ‘Security Is Common Sense’, a PSA for the US Air Force, warning servicemen against revealing military secrets in letters home.
Studio contract stars like Marilyn were routinely asked to endorse products, although she would do so less frequently in later years. Despite the Mail article’s claims, the Lloyd shoot does not appear to have been directly connected to Coca Cola – but the tacit promotional value was clearly welcomed, and it has since become part of their glamorous legacy. In 1951, Marilyn was filmed drinking Coke in a scene from Love Nest. And Edward Clark’s candid shot of Marilyn and co-star Jane Russell enjoying a Coke on the set of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) was revived in a 2015 company ad campaign.
Marilyn’s iconic role in Some Like It Hot is referenced in Georgian filmmaker Zaza Urushadze’s The Confession, which has just premiered at the Chicago International Film Festival, as Daniel Hensel reports for Michigan Daily.
“The Confession follows a preacher, Giorgi, and his assistant, Valiko, as they fill in at a church in a town after the local preacher dies. They bring with them American DVDs and a projector to show in the church, believing that if the townspeople come for the movies, they’ll come to church.
The film series begins with Some Like It Hot, the 1959 Billy Wilder classic with Marilyn Monroe, leading a number of the villagers to note that one of the women in the village, a music teacher named Lili (Sophia Sebiskveradze, My Dad’s Girlfriend), looks an awful lot like the blonde bombshell herself. And sure enough, though she is far from identical, Lili’s styled platinum blonde hair makes a compelling case. Lili and Father Giorgi become friendly, with the preacher encouraging her to come to a confession, where she notes not her sins but rather her place in the village: since her husband’s death, many men lust after her, but she’s not interested in loveless sex.”
Meanwhile, Seward Johnson’s giant sculpture, ‘Forever Marilyn’, is featured in Angels Wear White, a new film from Chinese director Vivian Qu, the Straits Times reports.
“The sexual assault of two 12-year-old girls sets off a harrowing chain of events in the film Angels Wear White (2017). Despite the premise, there is nothing lurid or sensationalistic in Chinese film-maker Vivian Qu’s second directorial feature.
In the film, contemporary society is fraught with dangers and temptations for the young given the corrupting force of money. Qu says: ‘When everything is up for sale, how can a young girl find the right answer for herself and move forward? This has all gotten a lot more complicated.’ She was calling from London where the film was being screened at the BFI London Film Festival.
Qu notes that there are seven female characters in her film, including a giant statue of screen legend Marilyn Monroe. Though they are at different stages of life and have different attitudes towards it, she is essentially writing about women.
But it is not a reductive portrayal along the lines of ‘men are bad and women are to be pitied’. Qu says: ‘We are already in the 21st century, and yet the value of women is something that has not been been really thought about.'”
Marilyn: Celebrating an American Icon is an exhibition of art and photographs chronicling her life and legacy, opening at the Jepson Center in Savannah, Georgia on April 4 (tomorrow), through to July 27.
Associated events include an opening lecture and reception, tonight at 6 pm; and screenings of Some Like it Hot (April 17) and The Misfits (May 15.)
Michael Mahaffey is an artist based in Savannah, Georgia. ‘Curious Tales and Terrible Creatures’, his solo exhibit at Gallery Expresso, includes works inspired by Marilyn and is on display through to January 6.
The concept of an updated, ‘gangsta’ Marilyn has become a popular trope in recent years, as has ‘zombie’ Marilyn. What interests me about Mahaffey’s work is that he takes these hackneyed ideas and creates something fresh and original.
‘Marilyn MonROGUE’ shows Marilyn not as gangster but revolutionary, while ‘Endurance’ suggests (to me) the beauty of Monroe’s face (her own work of art) in perpetual conflict with the fact of her mortality.
“I used to be much more interested with just creating pretty pictures, and now I work hard to blend beauty and content,” Mahaffey tells Savannah Now. “I like to pull people in with a striking image and then hope they’ll stick around to consider the visual story happening on the canvas.”
You can also find his work on Etsy