On Marilyn’s 93rd birthday, Sophia Waterfield aggregates online ratings from Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes to gauge the 10 highest scoring Monroe movies with critics and audiences today in a post for Newsweek. The results are surprising, with her dramatic roles in Don’t Bother to Knock and The Misfits tying for first place; followed by Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and The Asphalt Jungle, with perennial favourite Like It Hot coming in fifth. The ranking continues with All About Eve, Monkey Business, The Seven Year Itch, Niagara, and How to Marry a Millionaire.
Meanwhile on the Gold Derby website, Zach Laws and Chris Beachum pick their top 15, with Some Like It Hot, The Misfits and The Seven Year Itch on top. Three more of my favourites – Bus Stop, Clash By Night and The Prince and the Showgirl – occupy the 5th, 13th and 14th places respectively, with River Of No Return ranked 11th and There’s No Business Like Show Business at 15th. (Of all Marilyn’s major movies, Let’s Make Love is the only one not to make either list.)
Newsweek has republished two stories dealing with past anniversaries of Marilyn’s death. The first, from 1982, was originally entitled ‘Keeping the Monroe Memories Aglow‘ and focuses on collectors and fans, some of whom are still active today. ‘The 24-Year Itch‘ dates from 1986, and features contributions from feminist author Gloria Steinem, and Margaret Parton, one of the last journalists to speak at length with Marilyn.
“Monroe has mostly attracted male biographers. Probably few of them found it remarkable that an intelligent woman would talk like a breathless teenager or play a string of bimbos. Looking at Monroe’s life through the eyes of a contemporary feminist, Steinem now sees Norma Jeane Baker (the real name behind all the imagery) as a girl who never grew up. She was an early bloomer who spent her childhood shunted from one foster home to the next. She remained trapped inside the voluptuous Marilyn, forever seeking the love and approval she had missed as a kid. ‘She was just so vulnerable and unprotected,’ Steinem says.
The effect of social and sexual convention in shaping a tinseltown goddess’s behavior and attitudes is worth remembering. Steinem reminds us that in Monroe’s day a woman so spectacularly sexy was seen by other women primarily as a threat (that, of course, could never happen among the sisterhood today). When Margaret Parton, one of the few women journalists to cover Marilyn during her life, did a profile for the Ladies’ Home Journal, it was killed for being too favorable. Years later, when Ms. magazine ran a cover story on Monroe called ‘The Woman Who Died Too Soon,’ it became one of the magazine’s best-selling issues … In a feminist age, it is easier for women to respond with sympathy to the way Monroe was treated.”
This shot of Marilyn with director Joshua Logan, on location filming for Bus Stop in 1956, is the personal favourite of photographer Zinn Arthur. In another preview of the Newsweek special – Marilyn Monroe: The Lost Scrapbook – Douglas Kirkland, Elliott Erwitt and Lawrence Schiller share their own selections, while Joshua Greene picks one of his father’s shining moments. Read more here.
It isn’t yet available elsewhere, but I would advise fans to be patient rather than paying vast prices on Ebay. The magazine will be on sale until March 14, and speaking as a UK resident, I’ve found it’s normal for American magazines to arrive up to a month after publication. (And as I’ve mentioned before, previous Newsweek specials have been sold at WH Smith.)
Over on the Marilyn Monroe Collection Blog today, Scott Fortner gives us a preview – including several pages dedicated to Marilyn’s personal property, now owned by himself, and others by Greg Schreiner.
As to the rest of the magazine, Scott tells us that it ‘includes an introduction written by Joshua Greene, and has many photos of Marilyn along with comments from photographers Douglas Kirkland, Lawrence Schiller and Elliott Erwitt. Other information on Marilyn is also included in glossy, full color spreads.’
Despite the rather distasteful rumour-mongering about Marilyn’s relationship with Sam Shaw that has dominated media coverage of this issue, I remain confident it will be a must-have for fans.
A Newsweek special issue, Marilyn Monroe: The Lost Scrapbook, is due to be published in the US next Tuesday, January 14th. The 98pp magazine showcases a scrapbook made by Marilyn herself for her friend, Sam Shaw, featuring his photos of the star with her handwritten, often witty captions.
Shaw gave the scrapbook to another of Marilyn’s photographers, Lawrence Schiller, in 1973, and some of the photos were featured in Norman Mailer’s Marilyn, published the same year. Schiller claims that Shaw confessed to having had an affair with Marilyn, though neither Shaw or Monroe ever said this publicly.
The scrapbook was profiled today on ABC News’ Good Morning America, and the magazine is sure to become a collector’s item. No news of other releases yet, but copies are already being sold on Ebay. (If you’re in the UK, keep your eyes peeled over the coming weeks – Newsweek‘s special editions are often sold at WHS Smith.)
Michelle Williams has been talking about her performance in My Week With Marilyn. She told Newsweek, “I knew all the stuff that was written in Arthur [Miller’s] journal. I knew what she read. This man was going to save her; this man was going to give her the family she never had. Her vision of the world got reinforced again. There it goes: Everyone will abandon me. That’s such a devastating point of view.”
Michelle also graces the cover of December’s Elle (UK edition, out tomorrow.) Of Marilyn’s style, she says, “Something I really appreciated about her is what a simple dresser she was. She’s really, in her personal life, completely unadorned. Everything that she wore looked like she could take her shoes off and run through a field. And I like that.”
Of the private Marilyn, Michelle explains, “I had always been more interested in the private Marilyn, and the unguarded Marilyn. Even as a young girl, my primary concern wasn’t with this larger than life personality smiling back from the wall but with what was going on underneath.”
Michelle Williams, currently starring in Blue Valentine, has spoken to Newsweekabout her role as MM in the forthcoming My Week With Marilyn. You can watch her here, along with James Franco and Nicole Kidman, discussing their own experiences of playing iconic, real-life characters such as James Dean and Virginia Woolf on the big screen.
Michelle is also cover girl for February’s Marie-Clairein the UK.