‘My Week With Marilyn’ on DVD, Blu-Ray

The DVD and Blu-Ray release of My Week With Marilyn is being rolled out worldwide over the next few weeks. Extras include a directors’ commentary and a short documentary, ‘The Untold Story of an American Icon’.

“Anchor Bay and The Weinstein Company have done a terrific job with the film’s high definition transfer. My Week With Marilyn really offers nothing new in terms of visuals but as the glossy biopic that it is, it couldn’t look better. Extras are scant, if practically nonexistent, and other than an efficient commentary with the director, all we get is a 20 minute documentary that consists mostly of the cast and crew saying how brilliant they all are. Best in show is Williams, who tries to hide the fact that by playing Marilyn like she did, she was committing one of the most unselfish acts in recent film acting—she was truly willing to disappear within a character, knowing that she probably would fail.” Jose Solis Mayen, PopMatters

Women on Film: Marilyn Redux

Gabriella Apicella has contributed an insightful article for the Bitch Flicks blog, comparing recent screen portrayals of Marilyn and Margaret Thatcher, and discussing why film-makers sometimes misrepresent powerful women:

“Although devastatingly insecure about her talent and notoriously late on set Marilyn Monroe was no victim – especially at this point in her career. Known to moments of rage, and fiercely passionate about her craft, the depiction of her as a weeping child-woman too frail to articulate her emotions is to undermine the complexity of an actress who has continued to captivate audiences five decades after her passing. That she would find solace in the arms of any young man that found himself captivated by her, is to assume not only her complete disregard for the new husband for whom she converted to Judaism to wed, but serves to perpetuate myths about her sexual promiscuity.”

Celebrating Michelle’s Indie Spirit

Michelle Williams won last night’s Film Independent Spirit Award as Best Female Lead for her role in My Week With Marilyn. The ceremony was held at one of Monroe’s childhood haunts, Santa Monica Beach.

“My friend was joking that until now I have been the Susan Lucci {star of TV soap All My Children, Emmy-nominated 18 times before finally winning in 1999} of the Indie Spirit Awards! I have been luckier and luckier to be working with better and better people. I still can’t even believe I did it, playing Marilyn. There wasn’t a direct path to playing her. The only way is was time and letting her dictate it instead of me controlling it.” 

Acting, Imagination and Marilyn

 Douglas Eby focuses on Michelle Williams’ recent portrayal of Marilyn in an article for PsychCentral:

“Michelle Williams devoted some ten months to researching Marilyn Monroe for her acclaimed performance in ‘My Week With Marilyn.’

Producer Harvey Weinstein said he was impressed at the level of Williams’ preparation, how she could quote passages from Maurice Zolotow’s biography on Monroe.

‘Michelle researches a role like no one I’ve ever encountered,’ Weinstein wrote in an email. ‘She watched and studied the movies and photos; she read every book, every biography.… She could describe how Marilyn wiggled and winked while quoting some of her best lines, [like] when she teased that she was nude by saying, “I have nothing on but the radio.’” …

Williams probably also read: My Story, the autobiography by Marilyn Monroe.

She commented in an interview, ‘So I lived with her, and I never stopped trying to find more information. Even on set, on the 10-minute breaks, I would be back poring through photos or with my earphones in watching a movie. I was obsessed. I was on the trail of something. There were clues, and I had to solve a mystery.’

From my Inner Actor post Michelle Williams on Interpreting Marilyn Monroe.”

‘One of the many elements of My Week With Marilyn that I appreciated was the depiction of the emotional challenges Monroe suffered from the onslaught of fame and media attention.’ Eby explores this theme further in another article, ‘Actor’s Privacy and The Dark Side of Fame‘, with reference to ‘Through Your Own Grievous Fault’, an essay by Ayn Rand written shortly after Marilyn died.


Donald Zec and Marilyn

Donald Zec, entertainment writer for the Daily Mirror, was photographed with Marilyn in 1956 during filming of The Prince and the Showgirl.

In his 1995 book, The Prince, the Showgirl and Me, the late Colin Clark claimed that Mr Zec was a total stranger who had just jumped out of the bushes when this picture was taken.

Of course, this was untrue and Mr Zec took legal action, ensuring that all future editions of the book should be amended. However, last week, a further apology was posted on the Harper Collins website after they omitted to correct the recent reissue.

Journalist Hugh Muir noted the blunder in yesterday’s Guardian. In his book, Clark referred to Zec as a ‘creep’, and supposedly wrote in his diary, ‘D. Zec was telling everyone who would listen that MM was a personal friend of his.’

Considering that many Monroe fans now believe that Clark’s own account of their ‘relationship’ is wildly exaggerated, it’s somewhat ironic that he saw fit to question someone else’s claim to have known her.

An attack of the green-eyed monster, perhaps?

Defining Marilyn: Reel Vs Read

Writing in the Chicago Tribune, Julia Keller argues that a novel like Joyce Carol Oates’ Blonde offers more insight into the real Marilyn than a movie like My Week With Marilyn can.

While both these examples may have their merits, neither is a wholly satisfying portrait of Marilyn. Perhaps the closest we’ll ever come to her true essence is not through outside interpretations, but the words and images she created herself.

“The fault lies not in our movie stars, but in ourselves — in, that is, the profoundly complex and endlessly shifting nature of human beings. To capture the richly dynamic essence of any individual requires the only medium that’s up to the challenge:


Sitting in the dark at a recent showing of ‘My Week With Marilyn’, I was struck by the inadequacy of film as a way of conveying the boundless mystery of a real-life personality. A movie can do many things well: It can dish up terrific, gravity-defying action scenes. It can create worlds that never existed and make them uncannily plausible. It can act as a sort of prosthesis for the imagination, supplying spectacular colors and highfalutin visual hocus-pocus.

But what it can’t do — even when it tries its best — is get to the essence of a single human soul’s journey across time.

For that, you need a novel. You need the slow, methodical unfolding of a story. You need the gradual accretion of events — happy ones, tragic ones, mistakes and triumphs and accidents and turning points. A novel can deliver, one by one, the people who move in and out of any life. It can spurn the superficial. It doesn’t have to take anything at face value.”

Oscar Hopes for Williams, Branagh

Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh are both Oscar nominees for their roles in My Week With Marilyn:

Actress In a Leading Role

  • Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
  • Viola Davis, The Help
  • Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
  • Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn
Actor In a Supporting Role
  • Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
  • Jonah Hill, Moneyball
  • Nick Nolte, Warrior
  • Christopher Plummer, Beginners
  • Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Michelle Williams: GQ Cover Girl

Michelle Williams is interviewed in February’s GQ, complete with photos by Michael Thompson which are certainly Monroe-inspired.

‘What is so impressive about Williams’s performance as Marilyn Monroe is everything that it is not. Every legendary aspect of Monroe’s that you’d expect is in there somewhere—the vulnerability, the flirtatiousness, the slapstick, the desperation, the oozing sexuality, the wounded fragility, the chronic insecurity—but rather than being overtly played, these are hidden away where they should be, inside a character who Williams manages the near impossible feat of convincing us might once have been an actual human being. The best advice she got before filming began, advice clearly taken, came after she had approached Philip Seymour Hoffman (whom she had appeared with in Synecdoche, New York) and told him, “I’ve committed to this awful thing of playing Marilyn Monroe.” “His advice,” she says, “was: ‘If there’s even a whiff of the icon, things get much less interesting.'”‘

A photo from Michelle’s earlier session with Brigitte Lacombe is on the cover of German Vogue this month. I think Lacombe’s work is closer to the Marilyn of 1956, though Thompson definitely brings out Williams’ sultry side.


Marilyn Dress Display in Reading, PA

Collage by Marilynette Lounge

WFMZ-TV reports on a screening of My Week With Marilyn last night at GoggleWorks in Reading, Pennsylvania, was followed by appearances from local film historian Robert P. Metzger (author of the 1988 book, Reagan: American Icon), and Monroe collector Gene London, who brought along a white dress designed as a costume for Marilyn in The Prince and the Showgirl.

‘”Everything about Marilyn was special. And Ms. Williams captured her,” said Gene London.

Former  television host of Cartoon Corners General Store, Gene London is also a Hollywood fashion collector and self-proclaimed Marilyn Monroe expert.

“There are times in the movie, when I– who am super critical about Hollywood when I have to be– I look at her and she is Marilyn,” said London, “And it’s breathtaking.”

“My Week with Marilyn” is based on the time Marilyn Monroe was working on the movie “The Prince and the Showgirl.”  In it she wears a dress that Gene London now owns.

“You can see by this dress that Marilyn’s figure was ample,” said London pointing to the white gown. “She’s very curvy which was the style then, no longer the style now.”

London said he had his eye on this dress when he was buying other costumes from a man in Wisconsin.

“The one thing he wouldn’t give me was this dress,” said London, “I wanted it the most of all of them.  He said nope, that’s going to my children.”

But London said the grandchild called 25 years later.

“I adored the way she acted,” said London about Monroe. “I adore the way she sang ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend.’  I just love her.  It’s hard to explain why. I just do.”‘