Was Billy Wilder Marilyn’s best director? “It’s a marvel of characterization,” film studies professor Matthew Bernstein says of Some Like It Hot, as WABE reports. “Marilyn Monroe has never appeared to better advantage in any Hollywood film, because also because Wilder is an expert at using stars and their star images that are built up over time.” You can watch a zoom webinar about Some Like It Hot on June 19 at Atlanta’s The Temple, as part of a series, Up Close With Billy Wilder. (Other titles include Double Indemnity and The Apartment.)
The only live performance of Bombshell (the Marilyn-themed musical from TV’s Smash) can now be streamed here. Donations to the Actors Fund are welcome. Meanwhile, Variety reports that a stage musical based on Smash is heading to Broadway, as well as a new adaptation of Some Like It Hot, also penned by Bombshell composers Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.
“Like the series, the stage show will follow the efforts to mount Bombshell, the Broadway musical-within-a-musical about the life of Marilyn Monroe. However, its backers said the plot will also deviate from that of the series. Some characters such as writers Julia and Tom (played by Debra Messing and Christian Borle on the small screen), as well as stars Ivy and Karen (portrayed on TV by Megan Hilty and Katharine McPhee) will still be central to the storyline. Other details are being kept under wraps, presumably until opening night.”
Back in 2015, the cast of TV’s backstage drama Smash gave a live performance of the show’s Marilyn-inspired musical (see here.) On May 20, they will reunite to present an online broadcast of Bombshell, the New York Times reports.
“Actors including Katharine McPhee, Debra Messing and Megan Hilty will reunite May 20 to present a stream of the one-night-only 2015 Broadway concert of the musical within the TV show Smash, The Associated Press has learned. It will be seen on People.com, PeopleTV and the magazine’s Facebook page and Twitter.
The evening will be introduced by two-time Academy Award winner Renée Zellweger and will involve memories, stories and comments from the original cast.
Smash ended its TV run in 2013 and the cast reunited for a one-night only Bombshell In Concert at the Minskoff Theater in front of 1,600 people two years later, which became one of the most successful fundraisers ever for The Actors Fund. The stream of that concert also will encourage viewers to donate to the organization.
In the past seven weeks, the Fund has distributed more than $10.1 million in emergency financial assistance — more than five times it normally provides in a year.”
With many of us now in quarantine due to the spread of coronavirus, I probably won’t be reporting on many events here for a while. However, we at least have the chance to watch movies at home, and with her great comedic gifts, Marilyn can brighten our days in these difficult times. On the Vulture website today, Angelica Jade Bastien recommends Some Like It Hot and if you don’t have a copy at home, it’s widely available on streaming sites like Netflix and Amazon. (Angelica has often championed Marilyn in her articles, which you can read here.)
“But to be completely honest, I return to this film for the wounded performance of Marilyn Monroe. You probably formed an idea of Monroe long before you ever saw her onscreen. Perhaps you caught sight of her flattened image — red lipped and yearning — plastered on a mug, Andy Warhol–style. Maybe you learned through osmosis to regard her as a tragedy. Monroe is a cinematic atom bomb mushrooming with significance. In death she’s become for many artists and writers an emblem of 1950s sexuality, a feminist icon, a victim, a muse. Personally, I’d rather focus on what she did onscreen, where she’s decadently hilarious, brimming with fully realized emotion. At first blush, Sugar could be discarded as just another example of the dumb-blonde archetype. Hell, she calls herself dumb. But I think she’s too self-aware for that. Monroe balances the needs of the character beautifully. Watch as her face melts like ice cream when she notes how she always “gets the fuzzy end of the lollipop.” Watch how she leans over Joe late in the film, her body a canvas upon which the film displays its notions of sex and desire. This is a movie about desire above all else, and the hilarious ways we strive for it.”
The Seven Year Itch is a perfect summer movie, and over at Bustle, Angelica Florio ranks it fourth among 26 Classic Rom-Coms Streaming Now That Made The Genre What It Is Today.
“There are the classics from your childhood and then there are the classics that invented the rom-com tropes that are still in play today. This Marilyn Monroe movie isn’t necessarily a feminist love story — Monroe’s character is simply called The Girl throughout — but it definitely influenced the genre.”
Streaming on Hulu.
Stock up on potato chips and champagne – The Seven Year Itch is coming to US streaming service Hulu on April 1st, Collider reports.
‘Can you be a film buff in a streaming world?’ Andrew Clarke asks, in his arts column for the East Anglian Daily Times. (Clarke has written before of his admiration for Marilyn, in a 2017 article for the Ipswich Star.) Most of her major movies – and several documentaries – are available on Amazon Prime, but subscription services tend to favour contemporary films. All About Eve is the only Marilyn film currently available on Netflix, while the more specialist Filmstruck has The Prince and the Showgirl.
“The early 2000s proved to be a golden age for the film buff getting new prints of classic films by such stars as Marilyn Monroe (The Seven Year Itch and Some Like It Hot) … Streaming makes access to films easier but the companies have to make sure that those historic titles are both preserved and made available for our children and grandchilden to enjoy. Great films never go out of fashion.”
Some Like It Hot is free to stream on Amazon Prime today (US only.) But while it may have the perfect blend of love and laughs for St. Valentine’s Day, it was inspired by a very different event, as Jack Matthews writes for Gold Derby.
“Let’s face it, Valentine’s Day, more than just about any other day with a title, is a mass marketing scheme playing lovers for suckers, a bonanza for Hallmark Cards and Whitman’s Samplers and one that probably creates as much heartbreak as romantic goodwill. I’m not the sentimental type, but I do have an enormous fondness for one movie in which Valentine’s Day plays a prominent role.
It’s not about mass marketing, but mass murder, and based in fact.
In the early scenes of Some Like it Hot, the 1959 Billy Wilder masterpiece that is consistently chosen by critics and film people as the best comedy ever made, a pair of itinerant Depression Era musicians witness the gangland execution of seven men in a Chicago garage and spend the rest of the movie on the run from the mob.
In real life, the massacre resulted from a territorial feud between the Italian mob led by Al Capone and the Irish gang of Bugs Moran. In the movie, the shooting is carried out by the gang of Spats Colombo (George Raft), who coincidentally encounters the two witnesses, now undercover and in drag in an all girls’ band at a beachside resort in California.
Some Like it Hot received six nominations, including two for Wilder’s script and direction and one for Jack Lemmon as the bass player who gets all too comfortable in high heels. Tony Curtis, equally hilarious as the band member smudging his lipstick on the saxophone, should have received one, as well.
In fact, If time could actually fly, it would go back to 1960 and right the wrongs done to both Curtis and Marilyn Monroe, who is wonderful as Sugar Kane Kowalczyk, a singer hoping to marry well but falling instead for Curtis’ Cary Grant-impersonating phony billionaire.”