‘Maf the Dog’ Movie Plans

Eric Skipsey, 1961

Plans are afoot to bring Andrew O’Hagan’s comic novel, The Life and Thoughts of Maf the Dog and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe, to the big screen, it is confirmed in today’s Daily Telegraph, ahead of a live reading from his book at the Southbank Centre this Sunday.

The movie plans were first reported in the Scottish Herald in May:

“At the time of writing, O’Hagan reports that director Stephen Soderbergh (Traffic, Ocean’s Eleven) is in the frame. They are even negotiating sequel rights for reasons we shall come to later. Meanwhile, rumour has it that George Clooney wants to play Frank Sinatra – Ol’ Blue Eyes gave Marilyn Maf, short for Mafia Honey, in November 1960 – opposite Scarlett Johansson as the angel of sex herself, although O’Hagan confides that his own heart is set on the ‘delicious’ Christina Hendricks (Joan in Mad Men). We agree, however, that Maf, who was Marilyn’s constant companion for the last two years of her life, who ‘breathed the secrets of her pillow’, should be voiced by only one actor, O’Hagan’s friend Ewan McGregor.”

This sounds promising, though I do wonder if the book’s subtle whimsy will translate on film. Judging by some of the reader reviews on Amazon, not everyone was as charmed by Maf the Dog as me.

But I suspect this all depends on your preconceptions about Marilyn (O’Hagan is positively rapturous about her), and your willingness to suspend disbelief and accept a canine narrator.

Two other MM-related movies are currently in the works: an adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ Blonde, starring Naomi Watts; and My Week With Marilyn, based on Colin Clark’s memoir, with Michelle Williams.

Who knows how these projects will turn out, but I’ve read all the books that they’re based on, and Maf’s story is easily my favourite of the three!

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

Marilyn as Pola

Ileana Hunter is a Romanian graphite artist currently living and working in Norwich, UK. Her realistic drawings are inspired by both the fluidity of the human body and the hidden lyricism of mundane objects. Distinctive by the juxtaposition of intricate detail work and minimalistic compositions, her pieces are in art collections throughout the world.”

Marilyn Miller

A profile of the Broadway star whose name inspired Marilyn Monroe’s, at NPR

“Reading about Marilyn Miller, I found several surprising items. The name Marilyn, for example — Miller made it up from her own given name, Mary, and her mother’s name, Lynn — had apparently been quite rare until Miller’s stardom made it one of this country’s most popular girl’s names.

Decades later, Ben Lyon — a Twentieth Century Fox executive and former leading man who had co-starred with Miller and W.C. Fields in Miller’s last and best movie, Her Majesty, Love — signed up another pretty blond actress, Norma Jean Baker. She reminded him of Miller, and he urged her to change her name to Marilyn.

Both Marilyns had problems with their marriages and with substance abuse, and both died very young — Monroe at 36, Miller at 37, from complications of a chronic sinus infection.

Marilyn Monroe’s films will always keep her memory alive. Marilyn Miller didn’t live far enough into the movie era to appear in films that would do the same for her.”