Marilyn Gets Lost in ‘Noir City’

Marilyn is the latest cover girl for Noir City, a digital quarterly published by the Film Noir Foundation. Inside, there’s an eight-page illustrated article, with Jake Hinkson analysing her diverse roles in The Asphalt Jungle, Clash by Night, Don’t Bother to Knock and Niagara. Fellow bombshells Diana Dors and Gloria Grahame are also profiled in this issue. To subscribe to Noir City, join their mailing list and donate $20 or more to the foundation, who host regular screenings across the US and a yearly film festival, and also publish an annual print round-up of the best features.

Norma Jeane’s House Brick for Sale in LA

The Andrew Weiss Gallery has hosted several Marilyn-themed photo and art exhibitions in the past. Tomorrow at 10 am, a rather unusual assortment of items related to MM and other stars will go under the hammer at their Hollywood Legends and Music auction, including a brick retrieved by KTLA reporter Christina Pasucci from the former Dougherty home where Norma Jeane lived from 1944-45 at Hermitage Street (later Avenue), during its controversial demolition in 2015. Also on offer is a wooden clapperboard from the set of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes; a brush, comb and hand-mirror set, supposedly containing Marilyn’s blonde hairs; plus a hotel switchboard memo found inside one of her books, notifying her that Joe DiMaggio had called.

‘It’s Me, Sugar’ Previewed on Youtube

A preview clip of the new short film, It’s Me, Sugar, set during production of Some Like It Hot and starring Gemma Arterton as Marilyn, is now on Youtube. Heading the new season of Urban Myths on the UK satellite television channel, Sky Arts, It’s Me, Sugar will be broadcast on April 12. If you’re in the UK but not a Sky subscriber, Sky Arts is also available on the Now TV streaming service.

The series has a somewhat checkered history: the last season included an episode featuring actor Joseph Fiennes as Michael Jackson, which was pulled after accusations of whitewashing. Further episodes will cover a wide range of celebrity subjects. ranging from the disappearance of Agatha Christie to the Live Aid concert in 1985.

At first glance, It’s Me, Sugar seems to perpetuate the myth of Marilyn as a dumb blonde, playing an even dumber blonde. It will be interesting to see if it covers the theory proposed by author Donald Wolfe, who witnessed her playing the scene, that Marilyn ‘played dumb’ and blew her lines on purpose, to wear down director Billy Wilder into letting her play it her way.

Carl Rollyson on ‘Arthur Miller: Writer’

Carl Rollyson, author of Marilyn Monroe: A Life of the Actress, has set out his thoughts on Arthur Miller: Writer, the new documentary made by Miller’s daughter Rebecca, now on HBO in the US.

“It is a remarkable revelation of the man, but it is also a very limited view. How could it not be? It is his daughter’s film , and she could not, for example, bring herself to interview him about his institutionalized Down’s syndrome son. The film is really a memoir, and not a biography.

But I am going to concentrate on the treatment of Marilyn Monroe. For the most part, she is treated as rather pitiful, with Miller spending his time propping her up. He wrote very little while married to her but does not mention the countless hours locked away in a room trying to write. More importantly, he gives a very distorted view of what happened during the shooting of The Misfits. He says she doubted she could perform in a serious role. This is a staggering lie, or an example of self-delusion. Monroe was upset about the script and was shut out from the Miller-Huston deliberations about how to fix it. She wasn’t happy that her husband was treating her as a myth, not a real person. If he was going to give her lines that she actually had spoken, then he was obligated to give the full context in which such lines were spoken.

The most telling moment occurs earlier when Miller mentions Elia Kazan as telling him what a great play Death of a Salesman was. Kazan may have been the first one to say so to Miller. Miller trusted Kazan’s judgment and his sincerity. But when it comes to The Misfits, Miller does not mention the letter [Elia] Kazan sent him detailing the faults with the character of Roslyn that Monroe had to play. And those faults were exactly the ones Monroe had identified.

Another telling moment in the film is when Tony Kushner analyzes After the Fall and says Miller was afraid of Monroe. Just so, she had a much more capacious sensibility than he did, and he did not know how to respond to her. The same is true with Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. When she died, Hughes said, ‘It was her or me.’ In both cases, these men simply could not come up to the level of their wives, and afterwards suggested that was because the wives were doomed. And that is the impression Miller conveys in his daughter’s film.”

Riley Keough Revisits Marilyn’s Skinny Dip in ‘Silver Lake’

Riley Keough in ‘Under the Silver Lake’

Actress Riley Keough makes a splash in the trailer for upcoming movie, Under the Silver Lake, a comic thriller set in Los Angeles and directed by David Robert Mitchell (It Follows), as Alex McLevy reports for AV Club.  The clip appears to be an homage to Marilyn’s famous ‘pool scene’ in her unfinished  last film, Something’s Got to Give – even her breathless invitation, ‘Come on in!’, is repeated. Miss Keough is, incidentally, the granddaughter of Elvis Presley, and Under the Silver Lake will be released in the US in June.

Marilyn in ‘Something’s Got to Give’ (1962)

‘Seven Year Itch’ Soundtrack on Vinyl

After a CD release in 2016, the Soundtrack Factory label has now reissued Alfred Newman’s instrumental score for The Seven Year Itch on vinyl. (This doesn’t include the other Fox soundtracks added to the CD.) MM superfan Johan says this deluxe gatefold LP is ‘great’, apart from a factual error in the sleevenotes (Natasha Lytess was Marilyn’s coach for the movie, not Paula Strasberg.)

A ‘Loving Portrait’ of Marilyn and Arthur

The Millers in New York, by Sam Shaw (1957)

Sophie Gilbert has praised Arthur Miller: Writer as a ‘loving portrait‘ in her review for The Atlantic. Rebecca Miller’s new documentary can now be viewed by HBO subscribers in the US (I will update this blog when it becomes more widely available.)

Arthur Miller: Writer is a family portrait defined by intimacy with its subject, captured in footage the filmmaker first started shooting in her 20s. The movie’s at its most intriguing when it’s parsing the strangeness of being closely related to someone so celebrated, who put so much of his life in his work. Rebecca’s sister, Jane, recalls how, conversing with her father when she was younger, ‘There were times when he was only interested in something because he could use it.’

It’s a surprise, though, how warm and goofy Miller is in scenes with his daughter, as she captures him working on carpentry projects in his studio in Connecticut or reminiscing in his kitchen. Rebecca Miller, when the camera turns to her, watches him intently, with palpable affection.

Monroe, Miller’s second wife, is a substantial part of the film, although not an overwhelming one. It’s almost as though Rebecca Miller feels reluctant to probe too deeply into her father’s romantic life, even though he himself laid much of it bare in the 1964 play After the Fall. (‘The best work that anybody ever writes is the work that is on the verge of embarrassing him,’ Miller says in one interview.) When Miller and Monroe were first introduced in 1951 he recalled telling her that she was the saddest girl he’d ever met—a line he later put into The Misfits, a film he wrote for her to star in. Their marriage captivated America, given the unlikely union of a brilliant intellect and an incandescent movie star.

But Miller seemed to comprehend the pain within Monroe, who forged a bond with her new father-in-law that lasted until her death. ‘She couldn’t really gain for herself the confidence she had to have to do this,’ Miller tells his daughter. Then he sits, silently, for what feels like minutes, his face distorted with pain. ‘Terrible,’ he says. ‘Well.'”

Kim Morgan On Understanding Nell (and Marilyn)

As reported last week, Don’t Bother To Knock has been released on Blu-Ray. Film critic Kim Morgan a longtime friend of this blog, has reviewed it for the latest issue of Kill Or Be Killed magazine, which you can order here.

“It’s a heartbreaking portrait, and a movie that sympathises with Nell [Monroe], but the moral of the story comes somewhat at Nell’s expense – Widmark’s Jed becomes the decent man for not giving in to temptation with the damaged woman. He finally shows an ‘understanding heart.’ It’s almost heroic because in real life many men wouldn’t be sensitive enough to resist. And you know that Nell will learn that soon enough. Likely, she already has.”

US Weekly Rehashes Myths of Marilyn

Marilyn – The Untold Story, a new magazine special from US Weekly, is now on sale for $13.99. But if the potboiler headlines are anything to go by, this is for completists and the hopelessly gullible only. Of course, you could just buy it for the photos – although they don’t look rare to me! And if you’re outside the US, try Ebay.