Arthur Miller: Writer, a new documentary helmed by his daughter, the author and filmmaker Rebecca Miller, will have its premiere as part of this year’s New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center, Deadline reports. (The festival runs from September 28 – October 15, and as previously reported here, Marilyn’s 1954 Western, River of No Return, will also be screened as part of a Robert Mitchum centennial retrospective.)
“Rebecca Miller’s film is a portrait of her father, his times and insights, built around impromptu interviews shot over many years in the family home. This celebration of the great American playwright is quite different from what the public has ever seen. It is a close consideration of a singular life shadowed by the tragedies of the Red Scare and the death of Marilyn Monroe; a bracing look at success and failure in the public eye; an honest accounting of human frailty; a tribute to one artist by another. Arthur Miller: Writer invites you to see how one of America’s sharpest social commentators formed his ideologies, how his life reflected his work, and, even in some small part, shaped the culture of our country in the twentieth century. An HBO Documentary Films release.”
Rebecca Miller, daughter of Arthur, is a writer, director, and actress. She was born a month after Marilyn’s death, to Arthur and his third wife, Inge Morath.
Rebecca spoke to the New York Postrecently about the way some of her father’s plays are overshadowed by the memory of Marilyn.
“As for After the Fall and Finishing the Picture — Miller’s two plays about his second wife, Marilyn Monroe — Rebecca remains wary.
‘Anything that’s got the shadow of Marilyn in it — even something that has just a slight taste of her — gets overshadowed by her,’ she says.
Finishing the Picture, Miller’s final play, is about the making of Monroe’s last movie, The Misfits, for which he wrote the screenplay. There has been just one production, at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre in 2004.
It’s a fascinating story with some terrific parts for larger-than-life stage actors. ‘But I’m holding back on it,’ says Rebecca. ‘I’m guarding it. Sometimes it’s good to hold.’
She calls After the Fall, which Miller wrote in 1963, shortly after Monroe died, ‘a wonderful play that unfortunately in his time got completely read as an autobiographical work about her. You can’t pretend she’s not there, but at the same time it is about other things. There are meditations on the Holocaust and how we all have murder inside us.’
Rebecca says she’d like to see a production that ‘skews the play’ away from the Monroe character.
Which probably means a production with a major star in the male lead.
‘If the right person comes along, I’d certainly consider it,’ she says. ‘But nobody’s asking to do it.’
Now that’s a challenge a great actor — Kevin Spacey, perhaps? — should pick up.”
Actress Joan Copeland, 83, is the sister of Arthur Miller. Marilyn is photographed with Joan, above, at the 1957 opening of Noel Coward’s Conversation Piece.
Joan’s Show, a solo performance featuring reminiscences about her famous family and highlights from her long career, will be staged at the Acorn Theatre, 42nd St, New York, on August 15 (at 7 pm) and August 18 (at 2 pm.)
Copeland began her career on Broadway, and has appeared on television and in films including The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (2009), written and directed by her niece, Rebecca Miller.
In 1958, Joan appeared in The Goddess, a bleak melodrama believed to have been based on Marilyn’s life. Monroe had previously rejected another movie project by its author, Paddy Chayevsky.