Sugar Kane in Kenosha

Thanks to Joey, friend of ES Updates, I can report that Some Like it Hot is screening at the Cinemark Tinseltown, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, this Sunday (September 8), at 2pm, and on Wednesday, September 11, at 2pm and 7pm. (It is simultaneously showing at participating Cinemark theatres across the US – check the link above for details.)

Marilyn: A Hardy Heroine

Pulp the Classics is a new publishing imprint, repackaging old literary favourites in an affectionate parody of the dime novel. One of the series is Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbevilles (1891), about a humble milkmaid whose encounter with an aristocratic family leads to her ruin. It’s a tragic story, but also a tale of revenge.

Over at the Huffington Post, artist David Mann explains how Marilyn came to be the pipe-smoking cover girl for Tess. It won’t be to everyone’s taste – but personally, as a huge fan of both the novel and MM, I love the humour of it.

“I’ve attached the original artwork for Tess of the d’Urbervilles. This was rejected as people thought she looked too much like she was sitting on the toilet! The face was based on Mae West on this version, and I was asked to upgrade to Monroe!”

The original artwork, featuring Mae West

‘Cleopatra’ and the Firing of a Star

One of my favourite film-related reads this year has been My Life With Cleopatra: The Making of a Hollywood Classic, a reissue of producer Walter Wanger‘s diaries of the turbulent shoot. Among its many interesting aspects is his depiction of the power struggle at Twentieth Century-Fox, between the old guard (Spyros Skouras) and the new (Peter Levathes.)

It’s now generally accepted that the escalating costs of Cleopatra was the real reason behind the shelving of Marilyn’s last film, Something’s Got to Give, in 1962. At the time, however, Marilyn was the studio’s scapegoat. Wanger’s thoughts on her firing are quite astute.

Marilyn filming Something’s Got to Give

He suggests that the real problem faced by the cast and crew of Cleopatra was not the much-publicised Burton-Taylor affair, but Fox’s chronic ineptitude. This sounds remarkably similar to the ill-fated production of Something’s Got to Give, though the results were rather different.

Wanger also believed that Marilyn would have thrived in the 1960s heyday of Continental film-making. Sadly, it was not to be.

Walter Wanger, producer of Cleopatra

June 9, 1962

Levathes phoned from Hollywood to say he had fired Marilyn Monroe. He considers himself a big hero. He reminded me of a time when I was a very young man and was general manager of the greatest of all motion-picture companies, Paramount. I had practically unlimited powers. One day, however, I was impatient and fired a star.

Jesse Lasky, who was my boss, said to me, ‘Walter, under your contract you have a perfect right to get rid of that star, but that is not what we hired you for. We hired you to get the best out of people, not to fire them.’

June 10, 1962

The Monroe story is in all the European newspapers. ‘No company can afford Monroe and Taylor,’ a Fox spokesman says. No company can afford the mismanagement of Fox, I say.

June 16, 1962

Had a long talk with [Angelo] Rizzoli, the William Randolph Hearst of Italy and a big picture-maker (he financed La Dolce Vita) about Marilyn Monroe. I’m sure Marilyn would be excellent in films here where the picture is shot first, the sound dubbed in later.

In American films, sound and picture are done together. Using the European system it would be possible to make a picture quickly with Marilyn, then have her dub her own voice later. I think such a system would be successful and so does Rizzoli. I will get in touch with Marilyn later and try and fix a deal for her.”

Kate Upton Lights a Candle for Vanity Fair

Model Kate Upton has sometimes been compared to Marilyn – mainly because she is blonde and voluptuous, and has been featured in several retro fashion shoots.

These comparisons are set to increase as Kate graces the cover of Vanity Fair this month, photographed by Annie Leibowitz for the magazine’s 100th anniversary issue (with more pictures inside.)

Wearing just lingerie as she blows out a candle on a birthday cake, Kate looks more like any fifties blonde pin-up – a la Mamie Van Doren – than Marilyn per se.

However, news outlets have already likened the shot to MM in ‘Happy Birthday Mr President‘ mode, which will delight the editors of Vanity Fair, who have featured Marilyn herself on their covers no less than three times in the last five years.