As regular readers will know, ES Updates has brought you the latest news about Marilyn and her legacy since 2010. As of June 2020, this blog has a new name – and a new home. Thanks for your support and I hope you’ll join me over at The Marilyn Report.
The Misfits ranks alongside The Godfather Part II and Top Gun in a list of 7 movies featuring the Desert State as a location, posted at Nevada SportsNet. In this photo by Inge Morath, we see Marilyn conferring with cinematographer Russell Metty, while shooting a scene in which her newly-divorced character leaves the Washoe County Courthouse in Reno, and following a local custom, throws her wedding ring into the Truckee River.
Marilyn Monroe: The Red Party – an exhibition of photography by Bert Stern, last seen at HGU NY in February – will open this weekend at Keyes Art Gallery in Sag Harbor, the East Hampton Star reports. (The gallery will be open weekends from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and the show will be up through July 11. Hand sanitizer and masks will be available, and social distancing will be observed.)
This 11×14 numbered print is one of five portraits of Marilyn by Milton Greene, currently available from the Archive Images store for $50 each with free shipping in the US, as part of a new series to be updated weekly.
Meanwhile, this original studio photo promoting How to Marry a Millionaire, with a personal inscription from Marilyn herself, will go under the hammer on June 24, in an online auction hosted by University Archives. It reads: “To Jerry, It’s a pleasure to know you – Marilyn Monroe.” The listing informs us that Jerry Gotham worked with her in There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954.)
Other Monroe-related lots include a stash of vintage gossip magazines owned by beat writer Jack Kerouac, with a 1957 issue of Hush Hush featuring an article about MM; and an invitation to John F. Kennedy’s 45th birthday gala at Madison Square Garden, where in one of her final and most memorable public appearances, Marilyn performed ‘Happy Birthday Mr President.’
Another compilation of Marilyn’s music is out now on vinyl. Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend is released by Bellevue Entertainment, and features 15 classic tracks. (The cover photo -with added sparkle – was taken by Bob Beerman in 1953.)
1. Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend 2. A Fine Romance 3. My Heart Belongs To Daddy 4. Running Wild 5. Some Like It Hot 6. I`m Gonna File My Claim 7. Two Little Girls From Little Rock 8. I Wanna Be Loved By You 9. Heat Wave 10. River Of No Return 11. One Silver Dollar 12. Do It Again 13. After You Get What You Want, You Don’t Want It 14. I’m Through With Love 15. Kiss
Although better-known for her high-glam comedies, Marilyn shone in dramatic roles when the opportunity arose. Over at NCN, The Misfits represents 1961 in an article listing the Best Western Films from the Year You Were Born, while at Classic Movie Hub, Gary Vitacco Robles continues his series on Marilyn’s movies with a look at Don’t Bother to Knock (you can read his take on Niagarahere.)
“Four years before she set foot into the Actors Studio, Marilyn gives a Method Acting performance, beginning with her entrance. Nell enters the hotel’s revolving door in a simple cotton dress, low heels, a black sweater, and a beret. From behind, we see her outfit is wrinkled as if she had been sitting on the subway for a long time … Nell’s backstory is cloaked, and Monroe builds the character through use of her body in a manner studied with [Michael] Chekhov. She moves with hesitancy and scans her environment in a way that suggests she has not been in public for a long time.
According to [co-star] Anne Bancroft, Marilyn disagreed with both [director] Roy Ward Baker and acting coach Natasha Lytess on how to play the final climatic scene, ignoring their advice. ‘The talent inside that girl was unquestionable,’ Bancroft told John Gilmore. ‘She did it her way and this got right inside me, actually floored me emotionally.’
Nell Forbes is a fragmented personality with a blank expression. Sadness, fear, and rage register in Monroe’s face with credibility. She fluctuates from an introverted waif to someone who seems ruthless, even dangerous. Having worked with Chekhov, Monroe learned to delve deep into her own reservoir of painful memories and accessed her own natural talent for portraying vulnerability and madness. Employing Chekhov’s technique of physicality, she frequently held her waist as if the character were preventing herself from succumbing to madness. Perhaps Monroe’s mother, Gladys, served as inspiration. Gladys was diagnosed with Schizophrenia and institutionalized for long periods of time.
Monroe gives a stunning, riveting performance as a damaged woman, and suggests an alternative path her career might have taken if her physical beauty had not dictated the roles Fox gave her. Indeed, her comic performances were gems, which ultimately led to her legendary status, but what heights might she have achieved had she been allowed to experiment with more dramatic roles earlier in her career? Sadly, the film is rarely emphasized as a part of her body of work.
Arguably, Monroe effectively channeled her mentally ill mother and gives a believable performance as a vaguely written character in a script without any description of her personality. Monroe later told friend Hedda Rosten that Don’t Bother to Knock was one of her favorite films and considered Nell her strongest performance.”
After 36 years in business, a Marilyn-themed restaurant in Ontario, Canada is taking its final bow, as the Owen Sound Sun Times reports.
“Owner Julia Gendron said she had been considering an exit strategy from the restaurant industry for the past few years, but those plans were accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gendron’s late husband Rene and his business partner Gerry Gnaedig opened Norma Jean’s Bistro at 243 8th St. E. on a cold Jan. 6, 1984.
Gendron, who most people know as Julie, started working at the restaurant that same year and became a partner around 1990.
It was a last-minute decision to name the restaurant Norma Jean’s – the given name of Marilyn Monroe – and was chosen because Gnaedig’s wife was a fan of the iconic actress. The restaurant was decorated with photographs of Monroe and its menu also featured images of the actress, with sections on the bill of fare like Opening Acts and Red Carpet Favourites.
Gendron, in a letter to patrons that announces the restaurant’s closing, said some of the best times at Norma Jean’s included the rowdy New Year’s Eve parties, intimate family get-togethers and music nights ‘that would shake the windows.'”
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.)
In the first of a series for the Classic Movie Hub website, Gary Vittaco Robles looks at Marilyn’s star-making performance in Niagara. Gary is (of course) the author of the two-volume biography, Icon: The Life, Times and Films of Marilyn Monroe, upon which his new podcast, Marilyn: Behind the Icon, is also based.
“Niagara was Marilyn’s only opportunity to portray a villainous, narcissistic woman with virtually no redeeming qualities who conspires with her lover to murder her husband … Interestingly, studio memos suggest original casting consideration of Monroe in for the role of Polly, and Anne Baxter as Rose. However, studio mogul Darryl F. Zanuck’s image of Monroe likely cemented her fate as—in the words of the film’s marketing—the ‘tantalizing temptress whose kisses fired men’s souls.’
[Director] Henry Hathaway’s reputation was that of a tyrant who belittled and cursed his actors. However, he took an immediate liking to Monroe, or perhaps she melted his icy exterior. Hathaway considered Monroe’s opinion when editing the daily rushes and allowed her input to the selection of takes chosen for the finished film.
For the first time, Monroe was hailed for precision in her acting in a leading role. ‘The dress is red; the actress has very nice knees,’ wrote Otis Guernsey of New York Herald Tribune, ‘and under Hathaway’s direction she gives the kind of serpentine performance that makes the audience hate her while admiring her, which is proper for the story.’ Time hailed its full-bodied assertion, ‘What lifts the film above the commonplace is its star, Marilyn Monroe.’
In the final analysis, Monroe served Fox well. Niagara cost $1,250,000 and returned $6,000,000 in its first release. She had achieved global stardom. Nearly seventy years after its release, Niagara retains its nail-biting suspense, showcases Monroe’s dramatic talents, and illustrates its leading lady’s transcending appeal and charisma. She had personified the culture’s standard for beauty and sensuality.”
Long before Monroe-inspired photo shoots became de rigueur, Marilyn herself posed as five ‘fabled enchantresses’ for LIFE magazine in 1958. She considered the session on a par with her best screen performances, and in his accompanying text, husband Arthur Miller supported that claim. In a week when another Richard Avedon sold at auction for more than $8K (see here), the Flashbak website looks back at their supreme collaboration.
“As in life so in these pictures — [Marilyn] salutes fantasy from the shore of the real until there comes a moment when she carries us, reality and all, into the dream with her, and we are grateful. Her wit here consists of her absolute commitment to two ordinarily irreconcilable opposites — the real feminine and the man’s fantasy of femininity. We know she knows the difference in these pictures, but is refusing to concede that there is any contradiction, and it is serious and funny at the same time.
I am quite conceivably prejudiced, but I think this collection is a wonder of Marilyn’s wittiness. As Lillian Russell, Marilyn sits [on] the solid gold bicycle just inexpertly enough to indicate that she is, after all, a lady… Her hands lace around the bike handles so much more femininely than they grasp the fan as Clara Bow. And here again is the difference between imitation and interpretation, between making an affect and rendering a spirit.”