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.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

That week with Marilyn

Finally, MY WEEK WITH MARILYN. Amusing in parts, but I have to side with that first review by Liz Smith, which I quoted here some months ago (at Marilyn Monroe label). The way they look at Marilyn here is as if it is the Marilyn of legend who appears among them - but Marilyn back then was just another American leading lady - the blonde to Liz Taylor's brunette - and widely regarded as a sexpot, the later "serious actress" Marilyn of THE MISFITS was in the future...

The film, like THE KING'S SPEECH, trowels on the period detail and it all looks very nice, as directed by Simon Curtis; Kenneth Branagh is a joy perfectly catching the sly Olivier here and the snippets from the movie are fun, particularly with Judi Dench in Dame Sybil mode. It also crams in the cameos, as the likes of Derek Jacobi and Simon Russell Beale pop up, Eddie Redmayne though does not strike me as being that charismatic ...

Dougray Scott as Arthur Miller does not register at all, but its an under-written part, and Vivien Leigh had to be more charismatic than Julia Ormond here (same problem with Kate Beckinsale's Ava Gardner in THE AVIATOR). Worst served by the film is Milton Greene - as played by Dominic Cooper, but it is the part as written that is at fault. It is as though the writers and producers took everything at face value and decided to cast Greene as a baddie, whereas in fact he and Marilyn were very close for years and she stayed with him and his wife for a period, when they were setting up their production company. He also took some of the best photographs of her in that mid-50s period.

The film succeeds or fails of course in the depiction of MM by Michelle Williams (whom I last saw trudging behind her covered wagon dressed in calico in that odd western MEEK'S CUTOFF (western label) - it is an astoundng brave performance, capturing at times the essence of Monroe: she strikes some MM poses and that "shall I be her?" moment is good. It wasn't a good idea though to include Williams singing "Tropical Heatwave" not in any version MM did, as it cruelly shows that she is not Monroe.... Pity Dame Meryl took on Mrs Thatcher in the same year ...

The other problem is they present this as a true story - but how real is it? Clark's memoir is widely seen as fictional now, and that sequence where they skinnydip in the lake certainly is. Monroe notoriously told an assisant sent to fetch her on SOME LIKE IT HOT to go f*ck himself, so how pally would she have been with a very minor assistant in a studio in England a few years previously?

Jack Cardiff's memoir MAGIC HOUR (which I have written about here too) may be more truthful about the making of the film, he certainly made Marilyn look her best here, and he liked her a lot, his book had a wonderful chapter on her and her perceived demons.

So in all, plenty of interest, but it really makes one want to see THE PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL again, I have written quite a bit about it at 1957 and MM labels.

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