The Yin and Yang of Marilyn

Marilyn by Ed Feingersh, 1955

“The dark side of Marilyn is not exactly a revelation. What does come as more of a surprise is the joyous, functioning Monroe that also leaps out of these pages. She is an avid student with a keen intellectual appetite, taking diligent notes on Renaissance art. She is an excellent reader of scripts, with an intuitive feel for where the focus of a narrative should be. Regarding The Misfits, she writes: ‘I feel the camera has got/ to look though Gay’s/ eyes whenever he is in a/scene and even when is/ not there still has to be a sense of/ him.’ And, contrary to all the rumors of her ditzy sloppiness, she turns out to be quite the occasional Hausfrau, taking down recipes in great detail and organizing a dinner party down to the guest towels.”

Daphne Merkin reviews Fragments at the Daily Beast

Marilyn the Poet

Fragments is reviewed in today’s Independent. While critic Arifa Akbar finds the publication of Marilyn’s private notes ‘voyeuristic’, she speaks admiringly of the Monroe poems:

“Her poems are, by far, the heart of the book. She describes the human spirit as a ‘cobweb in the wind’; a sleeping lover’s vulnerability is tenderly captured; a suicide fantasy turns on itself to celebrate the beauty of a world that Monroe is not ready to leave. Her depression, her romantic spirit, her impenetrable loneliness is all there, and these poems could have been published on their own, albeit, in a slimmer volume.”

Writing on his blog today, pop star Moby raves about Marilyn’s poetic gifts. ‘Do 25 year old movie stars in 2010 read James Joyce or Leaves of Grass?’ he ponders.

Perhaps Moby could set Marilyn’s words to music. I loved his 1999 album Play, which combined electronica with vintage blues, gospel and folk.

A Poem for Marilyn, by Edwin Morgan

A 1968 work by the Scottish poet Edwin Morgan, who died earlier this year.

The Death of Marilyn Monroe

What innocence? Whose guilt? What eyes? Whose breast?

Crumpled orphan, nembutal bed,

white hearse, Los Angeles,

DiMaggio! Los Angeles! Miller! Los Angeles! America!

That Death should seem the only protector –

That all arms should have faded, and the great cameras and lights

become an inquisition and a torment –

That the many acquaintances, the autograph-hunters, the

inflexible directors, the drive-in admirers should become

a blur of incomprehension and pain –

That lonely Uncertainty should limp up, grinning, with

bewildering barbiturates, and watch her undress and lie

down and in her anguish

call for him! call for him to strengthen her with what could

only dissolve her! A method

of dying, we are shaken, we see it. Strasberg!

Los Angeles! Olivier! Los Angeles! Others die

and yet by this death we are a little shaken, we feel it,

America.

Let no one say communication is a cantword.

They had to lift her hand from the bedside telephone.

But what she had not been able to say

perhaps she had said. ‘All I had was my life.

I have no regrets, because if I made

any mistakes, I was responsible.

There is now – and there is the future.

What has happened is behind. So

it follows you around? So what?’ – This

to a friend, ten days before.

And so she was responsible.

And if she was not responsible, not wholly responsible, Los Angeles?

Los Angeles? Will it follow you around? Will the slow

white hearse of the child of America follow you around?

The Soulful Marilyn

Marilyn by Alfred Eisenstadt, 1953

“Although the material is new the editors in their foreword slightly exaggerate its meaning. They claim that in the 1950s Marilyn’s image had to be flawless. But I believe on the contrary, following Richard Dyer, that Marilyn’s star charisma was based from the beginning on the fact that she was able to reconcile huge contradictions. One of them was that she was known as the girl who read Rilke and Joyce on the sets of her dumb blonde vehicles. Even intelligent directors such as Joseph L. Mankiewicz were bluffed. They believed Marilyn actually to be the dumb blonde she played. Those who read her interviews at the time always knew otherwise. She was at her most perceptive in the ones she gave in 1962. These private notes collected from desk drawers provide more evidence of the soulful Marilyn.”

Antii Alanen, programmer at the Cinema Orion, Helsinski, reviews Fragments

The Goddess in the Library

Marilyn at home in 1952, by Andre de Dienes

The publication of Fragments has renewed interest in Marilyn’s literary side – and as one blogger noted this week, MM owned more than 400 books.

“The magic castle of Hollywood and her image had become a prison and she did what many of the incarcerated do to keep from going insane. She retreated into the private world of books  and explored her thoughts and feelings as a diarist and journal-keeper.” Book Tryst

‘There Was a Golden Girl Called Marilyn’

This bittersweet tribute to Marilyn, by Ruth Waterbury, was published in Motion Picture magazine in November 1962, just three months after Monroe’s tragic death.

“Poor, beautiful, intellectual, laughing Marilyn. She began on a note of mystery and she ended that way, too, alone as she been all her life. May heaven be good to her. She gave much to everyone who knew her, even those who only knew her through that glorious image on the screen. She was like a golden ray of sun on a darkling plain. This is the legacy she leaves to us all, this memory. It will linger long.”

You can read the article in full on Everlasting Star – with thanks to ‘hollywoodcinderella’

Dominic Cooper as Milton Greene

“In the upcoming film My Week with Marilyn, Michelle Williams plays Marilyn Monroe, and Dominic Cooper will play photographer Milton Greene. ‘He was quite an old* man, but they had a very close relationship,’ Cooper says. ‘I think Marilyn felt very supported by him in the beginning. But ultimately he became her agent and business partner, which is rather a lot.’

Greene sounds like another of Cooper’s ethically dubious characters. ‘There’s a sinister edge to some of them,’ he agrees. ‘But I like the challenge of making them multi-dimensional. It’s fun to play characters who are narcissistic and arrogant and obviously not very nice. The pleasure is trying to inject a quality into them that an audience can tolerate and understand.'”

USA Today

*In 1956, Greene was 34, just four years Marilyn’s senior, so not ‘old’ at all. I assume this is a typo and Cooper might have actually said ‘odd’.