Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

My Week With Marilyn - a first review, by Liz Smith

American columnist Liz Smith has given her view on MY WEEK WITH MARILYN, it has not opened here in the UK yet (next week) but I can quite agree with her individual point of view, particularly on Dominic Cooper (who is also playing Uday Hussein currently) as Milton Greene, and then there is Dougray Scott as Arthur Miller - lightweight or what? (MM was staying with Milton Greene and his wife then, he took some the best photographs of her during that time).

Here is Smith's view:

"Much has been said — mostly by the film’s star, Michelle Williams — about the difficulty of portraying the many sides of Marilyn, her variety of voices and personas. Miss Williams is a wonderful actress and no doubt she means every word she utters, but the Marilyn of her creation is a dreary, depressed, dim creature. In fact, it is the Marilyn of Arthur Miller’s “The Misfits.” (Marilyn hated her role in that film, complaining endlessly of the girl’s passivity.)

This movie is based on the highly suspect memoirs of Colin Clark, a lowly go-fer on the set of “The Prince and the Showgirl,” which was filmed in London, in 1956. Colin and Monroe became “close” he averred. The characterization offers nothing of Monroe’s wit, humor, intelligence or — and this is vital — her anger. Her reactions to events were not always a depressed collapse. She was capable of intense, extraordinary rages. She had a sharp tongue. She could fight back, and she did. But “My Week With Marilyn” presents nothing but her fears. Or a perceived stupidity. Williams has to utter lines like, “Gee, I wish I could read all these books” when entering a library, or, “I met the Queen. She said my dress was pretty.”

Worse, all the other characters in the film — Kenneth Branagh as Laurence Olivier, Judi Dench as Dame Sybil Thorndike, Julia Ormond as Vivien Leigh, Eddie Redmayne as Colin — are compelled to say how “extraordinary” Monroe is, despite her neurotic behavior. Then we see Miss Williams enacting various scenes from “The Prince and the Showgirl.” Problem? She is not Marilyn Monroe. And so, she does not seem extraordinary at all. I admire Miss Williams for her efforts and sincerity, but in the end, she has given one more imperfect impersonation of Marilyn.

HOWEVER, the worst served by “My Week With Marilyn” is the late photographer Milton Greene. This man admired and loved Marilyn, encouraged her ambitions, supported her financially during her year-long strike against 20th Century Fox. He co-produced “The Prince and the Showgirl.” Their partnership ended badly, but he never spoke ill of her, never exploited their relationship or her image. Dominic Cooper plays Milton like a foul-mouthed NYC gangster, just another user. One wonders what Amy Greene, Milton’s ex-wife, who lived through The Marilyn Years with Milton, would think of this portrayal. (I ran into Amy Greene by chance, just last year. Still razor-sharp, she spoke lovingly of both Marilyn and Milton, “That was their golden time,” she said.)

You know what? Just check out “The Prince and the Showgirl” the next time Turner Classic Movies runs it. It is a testament to the talents of Monroe and Milton Greene.

No more pretty blonde ladies playing dress up, pretending to be Marilyn. It just doesn’t work. Sorry, Michelle."

Now let's see how the English critics respond! As I have said before here, Jack Cardiff who photographed THE PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL caught Marilyn at her loveliest, he liked her a lot and has a very perceptive chapter on her in his essential autobiography MAGIC HOUR which renders all those other MM books redundant.

1 comment:

  1. Surprisingly this makes me want to see the film. Liz Smith's comments don't reveal anything about the film itself, how good or bad or indifferent it is. She seems angry that they got Marilyn "wrong" but the real Marilyn has all but disappeared. We have her ghost on screen but her image and persona have been so endlessly appropriated and analysed that none of us can come to her story anew. I want to see William's performance, she's such a terrific actress that I suspect that even if the film is disappointing she won't be. I know journalists and writers will perceive this as heresy but I don't really care about their feelings or experience or thoughts about the "real Marilyn". There have been fifty years now of such musings. But I am interested to know what she means for a young actress now.