Rare ‘Misfits’ Pics, Screening in Reno

“This 1960 photo of Marilyn and Eli Wallach was taken with a Kodak ‘Brownie’ box camera by Lisa Graeber at Quail Canyon near Pyramid Lake, while filming The Misfits in Nevada.

Lisa Graeber (then Lisa Stix) was home for the summer after her first year at college when the movie crew took over their house in Quail Canyon, near Pyramid Lake. Graeber and her mother moved into their guesthouse during the filming, and got to know several of the cast and crew members. Graeber took personal photos with her Kodak ‘Brownie’ box camera, which have not yet been seen publicly and will be displayed at a free screening of The Misfits, on February 13 at 2pm, Wells Fargo Auditorium, Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, University of Nevada, Reno.

‘There is something special about Lisa’s unstaged photos,’ said Donnelyn Curtis, head of the University’s Special Collections Department.

Curtis explained that Graeber’s brother, Dave Stix, a University alumnus and rodeo team member, was hired to be a night watchman for the Quail Canyon movie set, helped with the rodeo sets in Dayton, and found extras to be rodeo performers in the movie.

Film critic Robin Holabird will provide commentary and share stories about the various set locations at the Feb. 13 screening.

The screening is in conjunction with the “Honoring the Horse” exhibit, on display at the Knowledge Center through March. Since other “stars” in the movie were four-legged creatures – wild horses, rodeo horses and trained movie horses, the exhibit pays homage to these horses, and horses in general, which have played an important role in Nevada’s history.”

Nevada News

After Marilyn: Arthur at the Chelsea Hotel

After separating from Marilyn Monroe in October 1960, Arthur Miller lived for six years at New York’s bohemian Chelsea Hotel. It was during this period that he wrote one of his most divisive plays, After The Fall (1964), seemingly based on his two marriages (the self-destructive singer, Maggie, is reminiscent of Marilyn), and was remarried for a third time to photographer Inge Morath (whom he had first met during filming of The Misfits) in 1962.

Miller noted in his memoir, ‘Timebends’, that it was a place where you could get high from the marijuana smoke in the elevators, deeming the hotel “the high spot of the surreal”. “This hotel does not belong to America,” he wrote. “There are no vacuum cleaners, no rules and shame.” Elsewhere, he paid tribute to the two prevailing atmospheres during that decade: “A scary and optimistic chaos which predicted the hip future and at the same time the feel of a massive, old-fashioned, sheltering family.”

The Observer

Zolotow’s Marilyn: An Unquiet Spirit

“Marilyn Monroe’s great achievement has been the making of herself and the imposition of her will and her dream upon a whole world. Joseph Conrad wrote that when we are born we fall into a dream. Norma Jeane Mortenson, called Norma Jean Baker, fell into the most extravagant of dreams. She made it come true. She made it come true by making herself. She made herself beautiful. She made herself an artist. She triumphed in that arena where the loveliest women in the world contend fiercely for the prizes.

In one sense, then, her life is completed, because her spirit is formed and has achieved itself. No matter what unpredictable events may lie in her future, they cannot change what she is and what she has become. And there will be many surprises and alterations in her life ahead; there will be, in Hart Crane’s phrase, ‘new thresholds, new anatomies’.

In her heart is a questing fever that will give her no peace, that drives her on ‘to strive, to seek, to find,’ and then to strive and seek again. Her soul was always be restless, unquiet.”

This is the final extract from Maurice Zolotow’s 1960 book, Marilyn Monroe: An Uncensored Biography, first printed in the Los Angeles Daily Mirror on December. It covers the filming of Let’s Make Love, and a postscript details her much-publicised affair with co-star Yves Montand.

Zolotow’s biography, considered a definitive early work on Monroe, was reissued in 1990 with a further chapter on The Misfits, and an intriguing prologue where Zolotow describes his first meeting with the actress, at a Hollywood party in 1952, when she was still on the cusp of stardom. They would meet again ten years later, at the Actor’s Studio in New York, after Zolotow’s book was published.

Eve Arnold’s Marilyn: Portrait of a Misfit

“This photograph, shot in Reno, Nevada in 1960 has an incredible sense of place and of Monroe’s vulnerability. She and Arnold first worked together on a shoot for Esquire magazine in 1952 and, as Arnold says: ‘She trusted me, and the bond between us was photography … It’s rather a wonderful picture I think because of the desert sky, the desert itself … and Marilyn absolutely oblivious to the rest of us around her.’ Magnum had sent nine photographers to cover the making of The Misfits, surely the most ever, but it was Arnold’s work that really stood out. This was a looser, more intimate look than Hollywood had ever shown before in its publicity stills.”

Photographer Eamonn McCabe chooses this striking shot by Eve Arnold as one of the ten best photographic portraits in today’s Observer.

‘Why Do We Still Love Marilyn?’

This is the question posed by Lena Corner in today’s Independent, with a byline stating that ‘if she were alive today, the actress would be just another druggie starlet.’ (Needless to say, I strongly disagree…)

“Our enduring obsession with Monroe owes much to the fact that she was working in an older, gentler world in an era before the media made it its business to get its nose into everything. Unlike Lohan and other stars of today, who we get to see snorting coke, sporting alcohol-monitoring tags and wearing no knickers, we never witnessed anything like that with Monroe.

Recreating Monroe’s mix of wide-eyed innocence, overt sexiness and the frisson of danger and power that comes from being associated with the mafia and the Kennedys is nigh on impossible. Celebrities these days only seem interested in having access to Premier League footballers which isn’t nearly so interesting.”

Corner quotes film critic David Thomson:

“Monroe wasn’t a serious actress. There are stories that she wanted to play amazing parts and that Lee Strasberg (the method acting coach) thought she was a great actress. I don’t believe it. I don’t think she could really carry more than a line or two at a time.”

However, even Thomson – despite his low opinion of Monroe’s talent – has to concede that she is an enduring icon…

“Our obsession isn’t going to stop for a long time yet. These days we don’t believe in stars in the same sort of way. We are much too cynical. Celebrity has taken over from stardom and celebrities have a built in self-destruction factor which means they’re always going to implode or burn up. There is no one remotely close to Monroe and I don’t think there ever will be.”

Writing in the Vancouver Sun, Shelley Fralic argues that, contrary to received wisdom, Marilyn was a woman of substance…

“Have we really developed a celebrity culture so thin on the ground that it no longer requires its icons to have real talent, but instead slavishly worships and rewards those who bring nothing more to the table than bouts of bad behaviour or a bodacious booty?

But, hey, what about Marilyn Monroe, you say?

Didn’t we worship her as nothing more than the original blond bombshell?

Well, if you have to ask, then you’ve never seen Monroe’s achingly intimate and vulnerable performance in The Misfits.

Kim Kardashian does nothing, and for that she is famous.

We have surely gone insane.”

‘Maf the Dog’ at Bridport Literary Festival

“Movie icon Marilyn Monroe had a life that could only happen in Hollywood and had it all played out in the tabloids. As part of the Bridport Literary Festival, Andrew O’Hagan will be talking about Marilyn’s story, but with a twist. In November 1960 Frank Sinatra gave her a dog called Maf, and Maf the dog became a star in his own right. Marilyn died in 1962 and Maf was by her side throughout the last two years of her life. Andrew O’Hagan chronicles the time shared by the star and her devoted pooch, bringing a unique look at a life you might think you know. The talk takes place at Bridport Arts Centre on Saturday, November 6th at 4pm and tickets cost £8. Following the talk, there will be a screening introduced by O’Hagan of The Misfits – a film directed by John Huston and a script by Monroe’s husband Arthur Miller, which won great critical acclaim and proved to be the last film Marilyn made.”

View From Publishing

Read my review of Andrew O’Hagan’s delightful comic novel, The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe

The Yin and Yang of Marilyn

Marilyn by Ed Feingersh, 1955

“The dark side of Marilyn is not exactly a revelation. What does come as more of a surprise is the joyous, functioning Monroe that also leaps out of these pages. She is an avid student with a keen intellectual appetite, taking diligent notes on Renaissance art. She is an excellent reader of scripts, with an intuitive feel for where the focus of a narrative should be. Regarding The Misfits, she writes: ‘I feel the camera has got/ to look though Gay’s/ eyes whenever he is in a/scene and even when is/ not there still has to be a sense of/ him.’ And, contrary to all the rumors of her ditzy sloppiness, she turns out to be quite the occasional Hausfrau, taking down recipes in great detail and organizing a dinner party down to the guest towels.”

Daphne Merkin reviews Fragments at the Daily Beast

How Roslyn Saved the Horses

A wonderful article by environmentalist Carly Wilson about Marilyn’s enduring love for animals and nature, and her pioneering role in The Misfits:

“Just as the final horse is roped up and forced to the ground, Roslyn jumps out from the truck and starts screaming in a high pitched panic ‘Murderers! Murderers!’ The men are so shocked by the outpouring of intensity from this very shy and innocent-seeming young woman that they agree to untie and set free the horses. This scene is probably the most effective animal welfare message I have ever witnessed in a motion picture and the fact that it was filmed in 1960, before even the civil rights act had been signed, is incredible and way ahead of it’s time.”

You can watch Roslyn’s speech here