Birth of an Actress: Norma as Nell

Marilyn was the subject of a TCM Summer Under the Stars blogathon on Saturday. One of the outstanding pieces was ‘Birth of an Actress’, a look at Marilyn’s role in Don’t Bother to Knock, from Kitty Packard Pictorial.

“Her walk down the corridor is a death march. She leans against the wall for support. Her beautiful eyes wide and full of numbed confusion. Her perfect face cracked with the deep stain of lost, desperate tears. This is not Nell Forbes. This is not Marilyn Monroe. This is Norma Jeane Mortenson. For the final 10 minutes of the film, she is exposed: for all her cosmetic perfection, she is raw and imperfect, alone and afraid, desperate to feel the warmth of love and kindness and respect but all-too aware that she never will.”

And yesterday at Sunset Gun, blogger Kim Morgan looked at the same movie, in a post entitled, ‘The Noncomformist: Norma Jeane Nell.’

“And yet there’s a wonderful strength to Monroe (the woman endured so much in her own life that she was, as Elton knows, more than a candle in the wind) — she was such a strong, singular performer (there will never, ever be another Marilyn) that her vulnerability gives her a special power, even as we want to hide her from every skulking Uncle Elisha Cook, ready to pounce. So bless her for revealing such powerful sadness. And bless her for holding on as long as she did. And bless her for never, ever being normal.”

The Misfits: End of an Era

Over at Kitty Packard Pictorial, a late entry in the Late Films Blogathon – The Misfits, the last movie completed by its stars, Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe. I would argue that it also represents the point where Hollywood myth stepped aside to usher in a ‘new wave’ of American realism.

‘It was no secret that Miller wrote the screenplay for his wife. The role of Roslyn could have been played by anyone, sure, but perhaps no other performance would have been nearly as truthful. In The Misfits, Marilyn is not acting. She is Marilyn– exposed and naked and shivering in the scalding Nevada sun. There is a moment towards the end of the film when Monroe accompanies Gable, Wallach and Clift to go “mustang’n” as they call it (roping up herds of wild mustang), where Marilyn erupts in a way that is, to this day, unsettling. The emotionally fragile Monroe, who has been horrified by the ferocity required in Gable and Wallach’s trade, finally has a meltdown. She is a white dot in the Nevada desert, screaming “MURDERERS” with blood-curdling tremor. Clift, the one emotional connection she has in the film, senses she’s right and, usurping Gable’s leadership, sets them free.’