Revisiting ‘The Misfits’ at Stanford

Marilyn with Montgomery Clift on the Misfits set, 1960

Following a recent screening of The Misfits for students at Stanford University,   Carlos Valladares has reviewed Marilyn’s swansong for Stanford Daily.

The Misfits comes out at the tail-end of the classic Hollywood era (1961), and it shows. The photographers who drifted on and off the set (Eve Arnold, Bruce Davidson, Henri Cartier-Bresson) showed off Monroe, Clift, Gable in all their un-Glamour, in a starkly honest look that would have been unthinkable in the studios’ heyday … The editing is odd and erratic, but these glitches actually contribute to its depth. At one point, Monroe’s lips go out of sync with her voice. At another, Monroe’s close-up is interrupted by a blurry soft focus. She has none of the leering, near-pornographic dazzle of her 1950s promotional photos. Here, the camera looks as if it were just crying, doing a terrible job at wiping away its tears, overwhelmed by the state of Marilyn.

The Marilyn performance is so brave precisely because, despite the odds, she survives … It is when the men, after all their hard work and physical exertion, decide to shoot the wild horses they just captured, selling their meat for a few lousy hundred bucks. Suddenly, Monroe darts off into the distance and screams … the exact catharsis needed to make us care again about the sanctity of human beings. The camera hangs far back in an extreme long shot, making me feel Rosalyn’s insignificance, and, contrariwise, Monroe’s strength. It’s a rare instance where Rosalyn/Monroe has privacy to herself. Huston wisely does not go in for a typically Hollywood close-up that would show her breakdown and emotional turmoil with dramatic, lurid tastelessness. The camera cannot go in for a close-up. To do so would completely negate the scene’s point: the breaking out of a woman from her banality. She screams: ‘ENOUGH.’

The dialogue in this remarkable scene (perhaps the climax of Monroe’s acting career) also predicts Monroe’s eventual suspected fate … She could just as well be talking back to Arthur Miller (and the viewing public — us) as she is to Gable, Wallach and Clift. It’s an amazing example of an actor taking back her agency in a narrative that, at first glance, seems to float above the actors.”

Gemma Arterton: ‘It’s Me, Sugar’

British actress Gemma Arterton has revealed that she is playing Marilyn in It’s Me, Sugar, a new TV film about the making of Some Like It Hot, in a recent interview for the French movie website, Allocine (I have used Google Translate, so please forgive any typos!) Very little is known about It’s Me, Sugar as yet, except that the director is Sean Foley (Mindhorn.) Personally, I like Gemma as an actress, but I would have thought the ‘behind the scenes’ angle on Marilyn’s life had already been covered in My Week With Marilyn.

The title is supposedly based on a line that Marilyn blew multiple times on the set, but the line was actually ‘Where’s that bourbon.’ The situation was also more complicated than is generally perceived, as biographer Donald Wolfe (who watched the scene being filmed) believed that Marilyn was not merely flubbing the line, but was trying to persuade director Billy Wilder to let her play the scene differently.

“It’s a strong role in which you have to cry, to be in a state of almost permanent sadness. It must not be obvious …

Yes, in fact, everything depends on the role. For example, last week I played Marilyn Monroe in a TV movie, a comedy. There was a scene in which I had to cry and I could not, because it was a comedy. I was in this madness all the time.

Can you tell us more about this project you were talking about in which you play Marilyn Monroe? 

It’s called It’s Me, Sugar. It’s about the movie Some Like It Hot. Marilyn Monroe was in a period of her life really troubled. She took a lot of drugs, drank a lot. She was the biggest star in the world, she had a lot of attention on her, a lot of pressure. She is great in the movie. But there is a scene, when she comes to the door, she says, ‘It’s me, Sugar.’ It took 47 shots to make this scene. The film is about that moment, the crisis she had. It’s funny because it’s stupid not to be able to say ‘It’s me, Sugar’. She made all the variations. It’s tragic too.

It’s a film period that I love. Billy Wilder is one of my favorite directors. I have always had a fascination for Marilyn Monroe. The director is Sean Foley. He does rather theater, comedy usually. But he made a film last year called Mindhorn, which was a bizarre English comedy. He was a comedian before. I find that directors who have done comedy before do better. It’s hard to do a good comedy, because it takes rhythm. It’s really difficult.”

Thanks to MM Fan Club Belgium

Marilyn Brings Back the Pencil Skirt

Pencil skirts are back in style, according to The Guardian‘s Hannah Marriott (although I was unaware that they ever weren’t), proclaiming Marilyn – along with Marlene Dietrich, Meghan Markle and others – a ‘pencil skirt icon.’

“Marilyn Monroe’s walk down a steamy train platform in Some Like it Hot is the archetypal pencil skirt fashion reference, harking back to a time when form-fitting skirts were pretty shocking. (So tightly did they cling to curves that they are said to have inspired ‘the twist’, the only dance move women could do while wearing them.) The modern equivalent of the va-va-voom look is the stretchy pencil skirt favoured by Kim Kardashian and the Instagram set, usually paired with a crop top.”

 

Garry Winogrand’s Marilyn in New Documentary

Garry Winogrand was a LIFE magazine photographer who captured modern America in many unforgettable images. In September 1954, he was also one of the fortunate few to capture Marilyn shooting The Seven Year Itch in New York – both the iconic ‘subway grate’ scene, and the brownstone on East 61st Street where she waved from the window. Winogrand once said of Marilyn that she drew ‘all the available light’ around her.

Now filmmaker Sasha Waters-Freyer has made a documentary, Garry Winogrand: All Things Are Photographable, which will be touring film festivals this year and has also been selected for the PBS American Masters series.

“Artist. Iconoclast. Man of his time.  Garry Winogrand was the epic photographer of 20th century American life.  

Garry Winogrand: All Things are Photographable is the first documentary film on the life and work of acclaimed photographer Garry Winogrand  – the epic storyteller in pictures of America across three turbulent decades.  His artistry encompassed the heartbreak, violence, hope, and turmoil of postwar America, from the frenzy of its urban core to the alienation of its emergent suburbs.

He was born a first generation Hungarian-Jewish American in the Bronx, New York, in 1928, but his story is vital to our time.  If you take pictures of friends, strangers or celebrities, on the street or at a party, you are creating in Winogrand’s artistic legacy – even if you have never published an image in the pages of Life Magazine or hung a print on the wall of the Museum of Modern Art.  His ‘snapshot aesthetic,’ once derided by the critics, is the universal language of contemporary global image making.  When he died suddenly at age 56 in 1984, Winogrand left behind more than 10,000 rolls of film – more than a quarter of a million pictures!  He produced so many unseen images that it has taken until now for the full measure of his artistic legacy to emerge. 

Endorsed by his estate, Garry Winogrand: All Things are Photographable is the first cinematic survey of that legacy.  The film tells the story of an artist whose rise and fall was – like America’s in the late decades of the 20th century – larger-than-life, full of contradictions and totally unresolved.”

Mathilde Krim 1926-2018

Dr Mathilde Krim, a pioneering geneticist and campaigner for AIDS research, has died aged 91, the New York Times reports.

Born in Italy, she studied in Geneva and worked in Israel before moving to New York. In 1958 she married entertainment lawyer Arthur B. Krim, head of United Artists (the independent studio that produced Some Like It Hot and The Misfits.)

John F. Kennedy chats with comedian Jimmy Durante at a party in the Krims’ apartment on the president’s 45th birthday, May 19 1962. (Mathilde Krim is standing behind them)

On May 19, 1962, the Krims hosted a party at their home on East 69th Street for performers and selected guests from President John F. Kennedy’s 45th birthday gala – including JFK and brother Bobby, Maria Callas, Jack Benny, Shirley MacLaine and Marilyn.

Marilyn and other guests listen to Diahann Carroll singing at the Krims’ apartment

During the 1960s, the Krims supported the civil rights movement, enlisting celebrities to the cause. They also campaigned for independence in Rhodesia and South Africa, gay rights and other civil liberties. Arthur Krim died in 1994.

In 1985, Mathilde formed the American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmfAR), with actress Elizabeth Taylor as International Chairwoman. Among their many successful programs are the promotion of needle exchanges, and encouraging condom use and other safe sex practices.

Mathilde was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Bill Clinton in 2000, and in 2014, AmfAR hosted a Marilyn-themed Cinema Against AIDS gala at the Cannes Film Festival.

Dior Moments: Marilyn’s Black Dress

Marilyn’s 1962 photo-shoot with Bert Stern for Vogue, in which she wore a black Christian Dior dress, is listed among the legendary fashion house’s top five ‘life-changing moments’ by Justin Gray on Yohomo.

“Can you think of a better combo? Marilyn Monroe … wearing this backless black Dior dress designed by Marc Bohan. The haunting photos, shot by Bert Stern for Vogue, just show the beauty of the fabric clinging to her back allowing the light to dance off her shoulder blades and pull the viewers eye up to her face.  The tailoring and the fit of the piece appear as effortless as Marilyn’s beauty, but hide so much complexity in the seaming and the construction. This is one of those perfect moments when an artist and a muse find each other.”

Kirkland’s Marilyn in Moscow

A Douglas Kirkland retrospective is opening at the Lumiere Brothers Centre for Photography in Moscow tomorrow, reports the Russian news agency, TASS.

“Kirkland’s exhibition will last till April 15. Visitors will have a chance to see the pictures he took during his 60-year career. The items particularly include a series of Marilyn Monroe’s photographs made in 1961 and pictures of Coco Chanel, whom Kirkland photographed for Look magazine in 1962.

In response to a question about his favorite picture, Kirkland said that it ‘is the one I am about to take. That said, of course Marilyn Monroe is the person the world is most curious about but I am in love with all my subjects, male or female,’ he noted. ‘I have been lucky to get along with most of my subjects,’ the photographer added.”