US fans, take note: The Asphalt Jungle is on TCM tonight at 5:45 pm (EST.) Over at his 24 Frames blog, John Greco looks back on how the ultimate heist movie broke all the rules of star-making…
“[John] Huston cast the film with an excellent group of actors. For Sterling Hayden, this was his first leading role in a major film. Louis Calhern, James Whitmore, Sam Jaffe and Jean Hagen were known entities but lacked marquee strength. Marilyn Monroe was still a starlet in what was essentially her first substantial part in a major film. She was not even Huston’s first choice for the role; he originally wanted Lola Albright. Monroe does not have much screen time as the young plaything to the sleazeball lawyer but she manages to make a big impression with her limited exposure, and she looks great.”
Several Marilyn-related items are on offer, including a 1950 memo from Twentieth Century Fox to filmmaker Joseph L. Mankiewicz, confirming her casting as Claudia Caswell in All About Eve; and her contract for Horns of the Devil, a property she purchased in 1954.
There is also a group of rare photographs, including some taken by amateur photographer Janice Sargent at a children’s hospital benefit in 1953, and one photo from the 1962 Golden Globes. Two photos of a visibly pregnant Marilyn with husband Arthur Miller, taken by Sargent during filming of Some Like It Hot in 1958, are also featured.
Another lot contains several photos taken during filming of Bus Stop, and an interesting photo of Marilyn and Arthur visiting Montgomery Clift on the set of his 1958 film, Lonelyhearts. Marilyn was working on Some Like It Hot at the time, also on the Samuel Goldwyn Studio lot.
Marilyn’s blue gabardine suit, designed by Travilla for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, sold for $425,000 (£282,355) at Bonham’s and TCM’s Treasures From the Dream Factory auction this week – beaten only by Judy Garland’s pinafore from The Wizard of Oz, reports Voice Chronicle. You can read the full results here.
Bonham’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 Factorysale 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.
To all our readers in the US, don’t miss January 3rd‘s episode of The Essentials on Turner Classic Movies (Saturday, at 8pm), when Robert Osborne will introduce a screening of Bus Stop by discussing the 1956 comedy with his celebrity co-host, actress turned director and producer Drew Barrymore.
Drew is a lifelong fan of Marilyn, and even posed as her idol for the cover of John F. Kennedy Jr’s magazine, George, when it launched in 1996. In an article for the TCM website, Roger Fristoe explains what makes Bus Stop a classic:
“Most importantly, Bus Stop marked what is generally considered to be the outstanding performance of a true American icon: Marilyn Monroe…Whatever difficulties in achieving it, her performance shines like a beacon through a film that otherwise may seem a bit dated for modern audiences…Some critics felt that Monroe surpassed Stanley’s highly lauded turn on Broadway.
It’s simply a great performance, one that grows more impressive with repeated viewings. There was no justice in the fact that, while Murray was Oscar-nominated for his one-dimensional, at times almost cartoon-like portrayal, Monroe was not. This was a great disappointment to many including director Logan and Monroe herself.”
Birthday greetings for Marilyn rang out across the internet yesterday, with posts from the British Film Institute, Turner Classic Movies, author Christa Faust and L.A. Woman Tours. (The graphic posted above is from the Elsie Marina fansite.)
‘What Dreams Are Made Of: A Century of Movie Magic‘, is an auction curated by TCM at Bonham’s on November 25. Several MM-related items are featured, including this rare photo of the newylwed DiMaggios in Japan, and the Millers on the set of Let’s Make Love, both signed; and original storyboard titles from River of No Return, and Fox’s 1963 documentary, Marilyn.
While perusing Bonham’s website, I also found these two stunning screenprints made from vintage movie posters by Mimmo Rotella (circa 1990), to be sold at the Period Art & Design auction on November 17.
Ahead of TCM’s Marilyn movie marathon on August 4th, Rafer Guzman studies her impact for Newsday– arguing that, even in her most farcical roles, she was never just a dumb blonde.
“If people remember Monroe as a distressed damsel, that’s because of her personal life — failed marriages, failed pregnancies, a sorrowful death by drug overdose at the age of 36 — and not because of her movies. Monroe rarely played sad or tragic roles; her final film, 1961’s The Misfits, written by her soon-to-be ex Arthur Miller, is an exception. Rather, Monroe specialized in versions of herself: a regular girl from Little Rock or Colorado (though she was born in L.A.) who has grown up to be an actress, model or showgirl, all bubbles and energy and good cheer.
People also remember Monroe as a dumb blond — but again, she rarely if ever played dumb. Frequently in her movies, some poor chauvinist suddenly realizes there’s an intellect inside that hourglass figure. ‘That’s a very interesting line of reasoning,’ Ewell admits in The Seven-Year Itch after Monroe explains why she prefers married men. ‘Say, they told me you were stupid!’ says a spluttering businessman after hearing Monroe’s Shakespearean soliloquy on love and wealth in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. In All About Eve (1950), a snobby theater critic corrects her manners, only to find himself corrected. ‘You have a point,’ he says. ‘An idiotic one, but a point.’
Despite the frequently condescending attitudes, there’s something wonderful about the way men interact with Monroe on screen. They tend to be Average American Males, a now-extinct species recognizable by their fedoras and enormous confidence. These fellas knew how to approach a girl, as long as she knew how to be approached; there were rules about these things. There’s a line that Richard Widmark uses on Monroe in Don’t Bother to Knock that men today can only dream of using: ‘Are you doing anything you couldn’t be doing better with somebody else?’ It worked, too!”
Mitzi Gaynor, who starred alongside Marilyn in There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954), will appear at a tribute evening for choreographer Jack Cole at UCLA’s Billy Wilder Theatre on August 4 (the anniversary of Marilyn’s death) at 7.30 pm, reports Film Noir Blonde.
‘Choreography by Jack Cole’, a 4-film homage featuring Gentlemen Prefer Blondes at 11.45 pm, will air on TCM (US-only) on September 10.