Erwitt’s Marilyn: Sequentially Yours

The Guardian reviews a new Elliott Erwitt exhibition, showing at London’s Atlas Gallery until March 19, including a series following Marilyn during filming of the famous ‘subway scene’ in The Seven Year Itch, NYC, 1954.

“Photographing Marilyn Monroe … Erwitt plays at being the flâneur whose wanderings around the city are prompted by erotic opportunism. Here there is no need for a narrative, a diptych or trilogy that organises images into a short story. Monroe, unlike the characters in the other sequences, sticks to her assigned spot…The result is an array of poems written with light, contrasting the self-conscious stance of the woman…with the uncontrollable antics of the dress, which behaves in successive frames like a flaunting tail, an inverted flower, a soft shell or a billowing parachute. ”

‘Monkey Business’ Reappraised

Film critic Peter Bradshaw, of The Guardian, thinks Howard Hawks’ Monkey Business (1952), featuring Marilyn as inept secretary Miss Laurel, is an ‘ace ape jape’:

“It is part romp, part druggie-surrealist masterpiece, and a complete joy. ‘Monkey Business’ is undervalued by some, on account of its alleged inferiority to the master’s 30s pictures, and the accident of sharing a title with a film by the Marx Brothers. I can only say that this film whizzes joyfully along with touches of pure genius: at once sublimely innocent and entirely worldly…Dr Fulton drinks [a youth drug]; his short sight is cured and he instantly gets a new youthful haircut, jacket, and snazzy roadster, in which he takes smitten secretary Lois (Marilyn Monroe) for a day’s adventures. (The memory of Grant with his Coke-bottle glasses exchanging dialogue with the entranced Marilyn was revived eight years later by Tony Curtis in ‘Some Like It Hot.’)”

Full review at The Guardian

Monkey Business screens tomorrow at 6pm, NFT2,  in London’s BFI Southbank, as part of the ongoing Howard Hawks season. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes follows at 8.30 pm. Marilyn’s two collaborations with Hawks will also feature in a Hawks season at Edinburgh’s Filmhouse Cinema next month.

Elliott Erwitt in London

Marilyn during filming of ‘The Seven Year Itch’, NYC, 1954

“Marilyn Monroe, on the other hand, I was able to take pictures of in an intimate situation rather than a public one. This was in her hotel room in 1956*, when I was covering the film she was making at the time, Some Like It Hot.* She may have been reading a script when I took it. It was just me and her, and she was going about her business. I like the atmosphere, and the fact that it’s a famous person being photographed in an ordinary way. And I found her very sympathetic, I must say. She was nice, smart, kind of amusing, and very approachable. Not a bimbo at all.”

Elliott Erwitt 

*Actually, Erwitt first photographed Marilyn in 1954, while she was filming The Seven Year Itch in Manhattan. They worked together again on The Misfits (1960.)

“Four of Elliott Erwitt’s most iconic images will be presented in the UK for the first time as editioned, large format platinum prints, in an exhibition of fine photographs spanning Erwitt’s distinguished career.”

September 15 – November 30, Magnum Print Room, London

Brigitte Bardot Remembers Marilyn

Brigitte Bardot in London, 1956

Brigitte Bardot, the iconic French ‘sex kitten’ of the 1950s and 60s, is one of the few actresses to come close to Marilyn Monroe’s impact in beauty and charm.

The two women met just once, in the ladies’ room of the Empire cinema, Leicester Square, London, at a Royal Command performance of The Battle of the River Plate on October 29, 1956, moments after Marilyn had been formally introduced to Queen Elizabeth II.

‘I stared at (MM) hungrily,’ Brigitte recalled in her 1995 autobiography, Initiales BB, admitting that she was too nervous to speak, and simply gazed at Marilyn’s reflection in the mirror. ‘I found her sublime. She was always for me what every woman, not only me, must dream to be. She was gorgeous, charming, fragile.’

Monroe, then 30, was filming The Prince and the Showgirl with Laurence Olivier. Bardot, at 22, was still on the cusp of fame, having appeared in seventeen films. Her big break came almost a year later, with the release of And God Created Woman.

Bardot retired from films in 1973, aged 39. Since then she has largely abandoned her glamorous image, devoting herself to campaigning for animal welfare. (Marilyn also loved animals and nature, and once told a reporter that she wanted ‘to grow old without facelifts’.)

Brigitte turns 76 later this month, and in recent years has come under fire for her uncompromising views on everything from immigration to homosexuality.

‘People reproach (Bardot) for still being alive, for putting out an image that they don’t want to see,’ Dominique Choulant, author of Brigitte Bardot: The Eternal Myth (2009) and CineMarilyn (2006), tells the Los Angeles Times today.

‘People abandon their icons as they get older,’ Choulant adds. ‘Every 10 years, there is an extraordinary actress who has a sexual impact on a new generation, someone who represents a new type of woman sexually.’ (Often, Choulant notes, they are iconic enough to become known by a single name: Marilyn. Bardot. Madonna. Angelina.)

‘I have a lot of things in common with Marilyn,’ Bardot wrote, ‘and she is very dear to my heart. Both of us had childish souls despite our starlet bodies, an intense sensitivity that can’t be hidden, a great need to be protected, a naivete! We stopped our careers at the same age, but, unfortunately, not in the same way.’

Marilyn On This Day: July 14, 1956

Marilyn arrived at London Airport with husband Arthur Miller. They were met by another famous couple, Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. Monroe was preparing to film The Prince and the Showgirl with Olivier as director and co-star.

The former London Airport in Croydon, Surrey, is one of the few MM-related sites I have visited (or, to be more accurate, driven by!)

Vintage Newsreel

Fans Celebrate at ‘Marilyn Square Park’

On June 1st, a celebration for Marilyn Monroe’s 84th birthday was held at Madison Square Park, New York, hosted by the Erno Laszlo skincare company. In her lifetime Marilyn favoured Laszlo’s skincare products, and according to the Angel of Beauty blog, was acquainted with him personally:

“Erno Laszlo was a great part of Marilyn Monroe’s life. When newspapers around the world carried the pictures of her death bed, Laszlo’s Active pHelityl Cream were to be seen on the nightstand. Apparently Marilyn Monroe treasured the quiet, intimate conversations with Dr. Laszlo, and scheduled them often.”

Among the guests were no less than thirty blonde lookalikes, handing out red lipstick and T-shirts while a brass band played music from Marilyn’s era. (Source: DNAInfo)

Photo by Julia Dinh
Photo by Christopher Rosco

Marilyn’s presence also graced the opening of a new Erno Laszlo store in London’s Covent Garden at the weekend.

Official Website

Devotees Blog

Exposed

Exposed, a new exhibition at London’s Tate Modern, ‘offers a fascinating look at pictures made on the sly, without the explicit permission of the people depicted.’

Arthur Fellig alias Weegee‘s famous photo of Marilyn is included, arriving in New York in September 1954 to shoot The Seven Year Itch. However, unlike some of the other subjects on show, Monroe was ready for her close-up.

Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera runs from 28 May to 3 October. Tickets are £10, £8.50 for concessions.