Tag Archives: River of No Return

‘Ladies of the Chorus’ in Bendigo

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Made on a shoestring over ten days as a Columbia B-feature, Ladies of the Chorus (1948) gets a rare screening at the Star Cinema in Bendigo, Australia  next Wednesday, June 1 (Marilyn’s 90th birthday), reports the Bendigo Advertiser. While not a great film by any means, Ladies of the Chorus (also streaming on Youtube) offered Marilyn her first lead role, plus a chance to sing and dance, and her first screen kiss. It comes first in a double bill with River of No Return, while The Seven Year Itch is showing on June 25. These screenings accompany the Bendigo Art Gallery‘s acclaimed exhibition, Twentieth Century Fox Presents Marilyn Monroe, on display until July 10.

Marilyn Mania Comes to Bendigo

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Reviews are coming in for Twentieth Century Fox Presents Marilyn Monroe, the new exhibition at the Bendigo Art Gallery. In an article for the 3Sixty website, Irvin Hanna reveals how Marilyn mania has come to Australia.

“The girl that every woman wants to be best friends with has landed in the quaint city of Bendigo, two hours by train from Melbourne. Banners and stickers promoting the Marilyn Monroe Exhibition can be spotted the moment I arrived at the Bendigo Train Station. Turns out it was only a glimpse of full-blown Marilyn mania all over the city. At the main crossing near Alexandra Fountain is Forever Marilyn, an 8-metre-high sculpture by Seward Johnson. This impressive work of art has been seen in Chicago and Palm Springs in the United States, and is now in Australia for its first international visit.

Strolling along the Bendigo CBD (central business district), it was fun to see how everyone participates in honour of the Hollywood superstar. A picture frame store has images of Marilyn all over the window display, and there was a boutique with knock-off versions of her iconic dresses. Restaurants have altered their menu to include special edition dishes and cocktails, and visitors can select accommodation package offers from several hotels and B&Bs that include tickets and other goodies in conjunction with the exhibition.

This wonderful collaboration by Bendigo Art Gallery and Twentieth Century Fox took about two years to materialise. There are more than 100 items, prints, old photographs, personal clothing, as well as iconic costumes from her movies, showcasing the stages of metamorphosis from girl next door to blonde bombshell. All are on loan from the studio and from private collectors all over the world.

In between the items on exhibit are screens with clippings of Marilyn’s movies and live performances, including a 6-by-9 metre motion picture display, and little television sets from the bygone era. But my favourite section of the whole exhibition has to be the 1960s-style sitting area that was furnished with two beige retro armchairs, an old school wooden cupboard, as well as a projector and screen that show clippings of her old movies. Drawn by such a magnetic presence, I could’ve spent the whole afternoon there watching Marilyn strut her magic on the screen.

For the duration of the exhibition (which runs until 10 July), there are a myriad of events and activities in celebration of Marilyn. The Eaglehawk Town Hall will be hosting movie nights from April till June with some of her classic titles including River of No Return and The Misfits. Those wishing to relive the glam era can check out the grand gala night at Ulumbarra Theatre on 14 May, where there will be a screening of Some Like It Hot. Come in your best 1950s costume, as the ticket includes a post-screening party with entertainment and light food. And if you need more reason to party, the Bendigo Art Gallery Foundation will also be hosting a red carpet fundraiser cocktail event on 4 June, with live music and a silent auction of some of the items in the exhibition.”

Marilyn’s ‘Blondes’ Suit, and More, at Bonham’s

10659145_750351251704217_7588656055951611251_nBonham’s will auction Marilyn’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes suit – in which she sang ‘When Love Goes Wrong, Nothing Goes Right’, back in 1953 – at their TCM Presents … Treasures From the Dream Factory sale on November 23. Other MM-related items include her red saloon gown, also designed by Travilla, and worn while singing ‘One Silver Dollar’ in River of No Return (1954); Marilyn’s signed contract for The Asphalt Jungle (1950); Paddy Chayevsky’s annotated early screenplay for The Goddess (1958), a thinly veiled portrait of Marilyn, starring Kim Stanley; and Natalie Wood’s bound screenplay for Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! (1947), in which Marilyn made her screen debut.

Misfits Footage (and More) at Profiles in History

H3257-L78855457The upcoming Hollywood Auction 74 at Profiles in History contains some interesting Marilyn-related items, mainly on Day 2 (September 30.)

  1. An early pin-up photo, signed by Marilyn.
  2. Artwork inspired by Marilyn’s nude calendar.
  3. Marilyn’s ‘topless cowgirl‘ calendar.
  4. Marilyn’s 1952 contract for The Charlie McCarthy Show.
  5. Marilyn’s hand-annotated script for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
  6. Travilla’s costume sketch for ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.’     H3257-L78859923
  7. Original transparencies of photos taken on location for River of No Return.
  8. Photos taken by Darlene Hammond at various public events in 1953.
  9. Original prints stamped by Milton Greene.
  10. Candid photos taken in Japan and Korea.
  11. Marilyn’s 1953 recording contract with RCA.
  12. Photos taken by Sam Shaw during filming of The Seven Year Itch.   123a
  13. Candid negatives of Marilyn in public, circa 1955.
  14. Books on psychology and mythology, owned by Marilyn.
  15. A painting of Marilyn and Sir Laurence Olivier in The Prince and the Showgirl, by Francis R. Flint.                                                              H3257-L78859604
  16. Posters from Marilyn’s ‘Fabled Enchantresses‘ session, signed by Richard Avedon.
  17. Letters to Marilyn from Pat Newcomb and Arthur Miller.
  18. 48 minutes of 8mm film shot on location for The Misfits by Stanley Killar, an uncredited extra.
  19. A Misfits autograph book, signed by Marilyn and others.
  20. Contact sheets for photos taken by Sylvia Norris at the Golden Globes in 1962.
  21. The final draft of Something’s Got to Give.
  22. A camera used for many of Marilyn’s films at Fox.
  23. An archive of vintage press clippings.

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Marilyn in June at the BFI

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Details of the British Film Institute’s June retrospective (at London Southbank) have been posted on their blog, naming 12 of the 15 Marilyn movies to be screened – and giving us a sneak preview of the season’s poster. (Interestingly, the BFI have partnered with Stylist, the free women’s magazine who have picked Marilyn as their cover girl on more than one occasion.)

Rare Marilyn Photos Go on Tour

Lani Carlson, at the 'My Marilyn' party, 1952
Lani Carlson, at the ‘My Marilyn’ party, 1952

Writing for the Daily Beast, Marlow Stern reports on a new exhibition containing lesser-known photos of Marilyn by Whitey Snyder, Lani Carlson, Mischa Pelz, Milton Greene and Thomas ‘Doc’ Kaminski, touring the US this summer. Prints are also available to buy from Limited Runs, who also stock many vintage movie posters.

“Limited Runs will be hosting an upcoming traveling exhibition of extremely rare, never-before-published photographs of screen icon Marilyn Monroe. The tour will begin on June 6 at the BOULEVARD3 gallery [in Los Angeles], before hitting San Francisco on June 19 at the Sarah Stocking Gallery, and then New York on July 22 at Whitespace.”

Lani Carlson
Lani Carlson collection
Mischa Pelz, lawn furniture ad, 1952
Mischa Pelz, lawn furniture ad, 1952
Whitey Snyder, on location for 'River of No Return'
Whitey Snyder, on location for ‘River of No Return’
With co-star Robert Mitchum
With co-star Robert Mitchum, 1953
Milton Greene, 1956
Milton Greene, 1956
Thomas 'Doc' Kaminski, 'The Misfits', 1960
Thomas ‘Doc’ Kaminski, ‘The Misfits’, 1960
With co-star Montgomery Clift
With co-star Montgomery Clift

A Matter of Diction: Bette and Marilyn

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‘All About Eve’ (1950)

At first glance, it’s hard to imagine two stars more different than Marilyn and Bette Davis, although they briefly appeared together in All About Eve. Many on the set found Davis intimidating, and few escaped her catty remarks.

However, as Bette later told a biographer, “I felt a certain envy for what I assumed was Marilyn’s more-than-obvious popularity. Here was a girl who did not know what it was like to be lonely. Then I noticed how shy she was, and I think now that she was as lonely as I was. Lonelier. It was something I felt, a deep well of loneliness she was trying to fill.”

In her latest column for the Chicago Tribune, Liz Smith finds another similarity between MM and Davis – both actresses were, at different points in their careers, known for their ‘mannered’ speech.

'The Letter' (1940)
‘The Letter’ (1940)

“Last weekend I watched two films, one a classic, the other not so much — though it has a cult following. I do mean William Wyler’s The Letter, starring Bette Davis as a woman who murders her lover and River of No Return starring Marilyn Monroe as a tough saloon singer fighting turbulent rapids, Indians and Robert Mitchum. Quality wise there’s no comparison, although River, directed by Otto Preminger, is a great looking movie, with excellent use of early Cinemascope. It’s an entertaining potboiler. The Letter, based on Somerset Maugham’s novel, is one for the ages.

And while you might imagine Bette Davis and Marilyn Monroe were as unalike as two actors could be, they shared one quality — an odd manner of speaking. Davis’ clipped tones became famous instantly, and as she grew older, the static quality of her delivery increased, rendering many of her performances artificial. It took a strong director and an inspiring script to wrench Davis out of her habits.

AS for Miss Monroe, shortly after she began working in films, she met a dramatic coach named Natasha Lytess who convinced the insecure Monroe that her diction was ‘sloppy’ and she needed to enunciate more clearly. Well, Monroe, whose diction was just fine actually, did enunciate. Boy, did she en-nu-ci-ate. She came down so hard on her Ds and Ts she all but bit them off. Even she was not entirely comfortable with this, and when given a good script, her speech would relax, no matter what Miss Lytess said. River of No Return was not a script Monroe liked. The result was a performance that varies wildly. It’s fun to see her as a smart-talking, back-talking woman. And when she unbends her diction, she’s earthy and effective — refreshingly strong. But in other scenes, she comes off like a gorgeous Martian, who is just learning our language. It’s a pity, because despite Monroe’s objections, River was a change of pace, and all contract actors did westerns. They just did. (The chief pleasure of ‘RONR’ is the sight of Monroe in her physical prime, athletically running around in skin-tight blue jeans!)

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‘River of No Return’

But unlike Bette, Marilyn’s vocal impairment didn’t last. (Even in The Seven Year Itch, she is merrily relaxed.) After Monroe abandoned Hollywood and her 20th Century Fox contract, she went into the Actors Studio. Lee Strasberg convinced her, first of all, that she was nothing, had accomplished nothing. Only he (and wife Paula) could help her. That she was the biggest female star in the world at that point didn’t impress the Strasbergs. At least that’s what they said. Presto! Out with Natasha — who didn’t go quietly — and in with Paula, who became even more hated on Monroe sets than Lytess. (Natasha at least lectured Marilyn on discipline. The Strasbergs told her only the ‘art’ mattered, and she should take as long as she liked.)

There was little change in the essentials of Marilyn’s acting, except the disappearance of her excruciating diction, although every so often it would pop up on a word or two. Lytess must have used hypnosis on her!”

Stanley Rubin 1917-2014

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Stanley Rubin – the producer of River of No Return, who along with his actress wife, Kathleen Hughes, was a regular guest at Marilyn’s annual memorial services – died on Sunday, March 2, aged 96, reports the L.A. Times.

Born in the Bronx in 1917, Stanley took a Greyhound bus to Los Angeles in 1933. Though he would not complete his degree at UCLA, he quickly made his mark on Hollywood.

By 1940, Rubin was a screenwriter at Universal, and became one of the first to win an Emmy in 1949. He wrote scripts for 19 films, and produced over two dozen feature and TV films. His personal favourite, The Narrow Margin (1952) was shot in 13 days and became a classic film noir. Rubin had refused to obey RKO head Howard Hughes’ demand that he re-shoot it with an all-star cast.

Stanley first met Marilyn Monroe in 1948, when she auditioned for a TV series. Although impressed by her, the producer decided that she was too inexperienced for the role.

By 1953, Marilyn was one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Rubin met her again when Twentieth Century-Fox asked him to produce a new Western, River of No Return.

Director Otto Preminger was not Rubin’s first choice, and Marilyn soon became unhappy with his tyrannical ways. However, Rubin told Michelle Morgan (author of MM: Private and Undisclosed) that Marilyn’s leg injury, incurred while filming on location, was genuine and not staged.

A year later, Rubin married Kathleen Hughes, best-known for her role in the sci-fi classic, It Came From Outer Space (1953.) They had four children together.

Rubin’s final screen credit was in 1990, as co-producer for Clint Eastwood’s White Hunter, Black Heart. In recent years, he resumed his studies at UCLA, and was the subject of a 2008 documentary, Stanley Rubin: A Work in Progress.

When Norm Met Marilyn

 This rare candid photo has a ‘meet-cute’ story behind it, as explained by blogger Posh Todd

“Never-before-seen photo of Marilyn Monroe, taken in Banff, Alberta, in 1953 when she was filming Otto Preminger’s River of No Return. The gentlemen in the photo is Norm Charach, the beloved late father of my jeweler, Marty Charach, of Broadway Jewelers, 943 West Broadway. Norm was waiting to use a pay phone to phone his wife Evelyn, who was then pregnant with Marty. Marilyn was waiting her turn to use the pay phone to call Joe DiMaggio, and Norm and Marilyn struck up a conversation, and voila, history was made.”

Another scan…

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This colour candid may have been taken on the same day, with another fan…

Marilyn’s Blu-Ray Bargain Week

bluraycollectionUS readers, take note: nine of Marilyn’s movies can be purchased on Blu-Ray via Amazon.com this week at a bargain price of $39.99 (reduced from $199.99 by a massive 80%.) The offer ends on Sunday, January 19, at 12 am PST/3 AM EST.