Twin Peaks: From Norma Jeane, to Laura Palmer

If you’re a fan of cult TV series Twin Peaks, you’ll already know that director David Lynch and writer Mark Frost created it after shelving an earlier collaboration based on Anthony Summers’ Goddess.) There are striking parallels between the main female protagonist, Laura Palmer (played by Sheryl Lee), and Marilyn, which go beyond their mysterious deaths.

In last year’s Twin Peaks revival, Marilyn’s Bus Stop co-star Don Murray played a key role. Actors Russ Tamblyn and Miguel Ferrer also had real-life links to Marilyn. I was also reminded of her sensual performance in Niagara during a scene where beautiful FBI agent Tammy Preston (Chrysta Bell) is filmed walking away from the camera, while ditzy casino hostess Candie (Amy Shiels) resembled Lorelei in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, even wearing a pink tutu with matching gloves and diamonds, not unlike Marilyn’s costume in the ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ number….

But maybe that’s all just wishful thinking on my part. Going back to the original series, Zach Gayne explores the similarities between Marilyn and Laura in ‘Twin Peaks and the Point of No Return‘, an essay for Screen Anarchy.

“Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about Marilyn Monroe and the abandoned project that first united David Lynch and Mark Frost – the two were apparently interested in co-adapting Anthony Summers’ expose, Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe. While this is absolute conjecture, I can’t help but wonder if the two minds, who’d bonded over their interest in detailing the story of a fallen goddess – adored by all, but understood by few, who’s shadow ultimately overcame her angel – felt that the exploring Monroe when she was still Norma Jeane wouldn’t be the more effective way to detail the all-too-common American tragedy of a bright young woman succumbing to purveyors of darkness.

Laura Palmer is nothing if not a high-school Marilyn Monroe – a magnetic soul who draws no shortage of desire from, not only the hottest boy in school, but many of the town’s adults, like the local psychedelic psychologist or the wealthy hotel tycoon. One might say she brought out the best or worst in people, depending on their innermost natures. Laura, a supreme beacon of light, in addition to attracting love of the purest kind also attracted fire, and for her sins of merely existing, from a young age she was met with dark temptations as old as the ghostwood forest, like so many generations of distressed damsels and lads before and after her.”

Marilyn and Miguel Ferrer

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Miguel Ferrer, the accomplished character actor whose many screen credits include Robocop and Twin Peaks, died last week aged 61, The Guardian reports.

He was born on February 7, 1955 to singer Rosemary Clooney and her husband, actor Jose Ferrer. Among his impeccable Hollywood connections (his cousin is George Clooney), Miguel enjoyed an early  encounter with Marilyn Monroe which reveals a great deal about her love of children.

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In her 1999 autobiography, Girl Singer, Rosemary recalled throwing a party at her New York home in the winter of 1955, shortly after Miguel was born. Film director John Huston came with Marilyn, who had recently moved to the city. Rosemary had only met her once before, but Marilyn immediately asked if she could see the baby. Without even brushing the snow off her fur coat, Marilyn headed upstairs to the nursery. About an hour later, Huston asked Rosemary, ‘What the hell’s she doing up there?’ She replied that Marilyn was ‘playing with the baby.’

Before his death, Miguel reprised his role as the gruff FBI forensic pathologist, Albert Rosenfeld, in the forthcoming new series of Twin Peaks. He is not the only cast member with a connection to Marilyn, as her Bus Stop co-star Don Murray will also be making a cameo appearance.

‘Under the Spell of a Bombshell’

The New York Times has reviewed Nobody Else But You, the new French movie about the death of a Monroe wannabe, opening today in New York and Seattle.

“Of all the American cultural symbols that haunt the film, which borrows from the Coen brothers’ Fargo and from David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, the most indelible by far is Marilyn Monroe, or rather, the dream of Monroe…

As David doggedly continues and eventually finds his own life in danger, Candice’s troubled history is reconstructed through the flashbacks, beyond-the-grave voice-overs and excerpts from her scandalously revealing diaries. Candice’s story eerily mirrors Monroe’s biography in her choices of an athlete, a writer and a politician as husbands and lovers. The movie blithely exploits popular conspiracy theories about Monroe’s death.

If Nobody Else But You is smart and entertaining, it is a little too clever for its own good. As much as I appreciated Mr. Rouve’s dry deadpan detective writer and Ms. Quinton’s seductive, occasionally poignant pinup, I felt continually nudged by the movie’s winking self-awareness.”

And another review from NPR:

“The kinship between the two blondes is the plotline that will polarize Nobody Else But You‘s viewers. Some will be amused by writer-director Gerald Hustache-Mathieu’s elaborate links between Candice and Marilyn. But others will find them too goofy, especially in a film that presents a fairly grim view of how female stars are constructed and then demolished.”

And from Slant magazine:

“The film’s most interesting angle is its focus on female objectification…But such smart moves are negated by the increasingly ill-conceived plot…films trying to glean some shine from Monroe’s legacy have never fared well, and hitting the bullet points of her story overwhelms Nobody Else But You.”