Movie Magic: Marilyn at Pinewood

Marilyn with Sir Laurence Olivier in 'The Prince and the Showgirl.' Photo by Milton H. Greene
Marilyn with Sir Laurence Olivier in ‘The Prince and the Showgirl.’ Photo by Milton H. Greene

With the opening of the BFI retrospective, there has been much talk of Marilyn in the UK media this week. There was a discussion of Marilyn’s business acumen on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour on Thursday; you can listen again here.

On BBC2 tonight at 9 pm, Jonathan Ross presents an hour-long documentary, Pinewood: 80 Years of Movie Magic. As Marilyn filmed The Prince and the Showgirl at the legendary English studio in 1956, it is followed at 10:30 pm by a screening of My Week With Marilyn, the 2011 movie about the offscreen battles between Marilyn and her co-star, Sir Laurence Olivier, starring Michelle Williams and Sir Kenneth Branagh.

Kenny Kingston: Psychic to the Stars

kenny kingston
Kenny Kingston shows off his framed photos of Marilyn and Clifton Webb, 1970s

Self-proclaimed ‘Psychic to the Stars’ Kenny Kingston has died aged 87, reports the the Los Angeles Times. Kingston claimed that Marilyn first visited him in 1953, on the advice of her friend, actor Clifton Webb. She got out of a cab five blocks from his home and walked the rest of the way, explaining, ‘I didn’t want your reputation spoiled.’ Kingston said that they remained friends until her death – and long afterward…

According to Kingston, Marilyn’s spirit was reunited with ex-husband Joe DiMaggio following his death in 1999. During filming of My Week With Marilyn in 2011, the celebrity psychic told Yahoo Voices that MM contacted him from beyond the grave to express her approval of actress Michelle Williams.

Marilyn in Princeton

In honour of the 50th anniversary of Marilyn’s death, the Princeton Public Library will be screening four movies over the next week: The Prince and The Showgirl (4pm) and My Week With Marilyn (7pm, both August 3rd); The Misfits (4pm, August 4); and on August 5, ‘MM: The Never-Ending Dream’, a lecture by Paul Sofian, at 3pm, followed by Some Like it Hot at 4pm.

Marilyn’s Week in Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s Filmhouse will screen several Monroe movies in August: Niagara and Some Like it Hot (on the 5th); Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (6th); The Misfits (7th); Monkey Business (8th); The Asphalt Jungle (9th); last year’s biopic, My Week With Marilyn (10th); All About Eve and The Prince and the Showgirl (11th.)

Larry Schiller: Writing About Marilyn


Lawrence Schiller spoke to the Wall Street Journal recently about his two new books on Marilyn…

“Last summer in June I saw the ads and the Michelle Williams story in Vanity Fair on ‘My Week With Marilyn.’ There’s no question that that triggered, in my mind, the fact that one year later was going to be the 50thanniversary of her death. I did not go see the movie; I did not read any of the articles because I experienced the real person myself.

I’ve written five books, but I’ve never written a book that way. I’ve never written with my own voice, looked at the warts on my own face. In writing the autobiography, I was going to look at myself warts and all.

I was giving you a view of Marilyn that had never been given before. I wasn’t giving you my opinions, I was giving something people had never experienced before. And as much as you can be Marilyn-ed out or The Beatles-out or Elvis Presley-out, there’s always room for something fresh.”

UPDATE: You can also watch a video interview with Larry Schiller, here.

‘Nobody Else But You’ in America

Another positive review for the French-made Nobody Else But You – a comedy thriller about a Monroe wannabe, currently on limited release in the US – from Entertainment Weekly. (Is it just me, or does this sound better than My Week With Marilyn?)

“In this particularly droll and satisfying French murder mystery set in an unusually, almost hilariously cold and snowy corner of France, a local starlet famous for her cheese ads (Sophie Quinton) turns up dead. This piques the interest of a crime novelist (Jean-Paul Rouve) who happens to be in the area. Her intense identification with Marilyn Monroe intrigues him even more. Writer-director Gérald Hustache-Mathieu sustains a fresh voice influenced by the Coen brothers and the infernal snow of FargoA-“

Scarlett Johansson on Monroe Comparisons

Actress Scarlett Johansson has never made any secret of being a Monroe fan, and has often drawn on her image – but she has no desire to play her onscreen, she tells The Independent:

‘”I never wanted to play Marilyn Monroe [Johansson was reportedly in the running to play the actress in last year’s ‘My Week with Marilyn’.] I don’t know. It’s just a job – I didn’t have the passion for that. I love Marilyn Monroe. She’s a very underrated actor but it just seemed exhausting in a way that I couldn’t wrap my head around.”‘

Interestingly, her thoughts on fame, and worries about being typecast as a sex symbol echo Marilyn’s…

‘I never wanted to be a sex symbol I wanted to be a character actor. Those are the actors I mostly admire. I think women that are curvy can be pigeonholed in that bombshell thing. It’s not like I actively look for sexy roles. It’s not a requirement that my character be pretty and delicate. I never think about my character being sexy, unless that’s written in.

It’s weird to be a recognisable face I’m not traumatised [by it] but I find it can bring out the worst in humanity sometimes. I’m constantly surprised by how rude people are. You’ll be having an intimate dinner with a friend and there’s somebody on the table behind with a cameraphone pointing at your face. I think, “I would never take a photo of someone without asking.”‘

Yona Zeldis McDonough on Marilyn

Yona Zeldis McDonough, who edited the 2002 anthology, All the Available Light: A Marilyn Monroe Reader, has also written fiction and non-fiction for adults, and books for children. She spoke recently about her thoughts on MM’s enduring legacy:

“You edited a highly praised collection of essays about Marilyn Monroe. Why were you initially drawn to this project and why do you think Marilyn has held such a fascination for her fans? Will you go see the new film My Week with Marilyn?

YZM: She is that forever compelling combination of beautiful and damned. Her Cinderella-like transformation from unwanted orphan/abused foster child to Hollywood star fulfills a very powerful fantasy so many of us seem to have. I have mixed feelings about the new movie; MM’s presence was so incandescent on screen that I see no need to watch someone impersonate her.  Yet the film will add to the discussion in some fashion and I suppose I will succumb.” The Children’s Book Review

‘My Week With Marilyn’ on DVD, Blu-Ray

 The DVD and Blu-Ray release of My Week With Marilyn is being rolled out worldwide over the next few weeks. Extras include a directors’ commentary and a short documentary, ‘The Untold Story of an American Icon’.

“Anchor Bay and The Weinstein Company have done a terrific job with the film’s high definition transfer. My Week With Marilyn really offers nothing new in terms of visuals but as the glossy biopic that it is, it couldn’t look better. Extras are scant, if practically nonexistent, and other than an efficient commentary with the director, all we get is a 20 minute documentary that consists mostly of the cast and crew saying how brilliant they all are. Best in show is Williams, who tries to hide the fact that by playing Marilyn like she did, she was committing one of the most unselfish acts in recent film acting—she was truly willing to disappear within a character, knowing that she probably would fail.” Jose Solis Mayen, PopMatters