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.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Back to 1957 with ....

When I was 11 in 1957, a favourite movie magazine - one of the American fan ones - was maybe called "Screen Stories", featuring stories and photos from the current movies. This particular issue featured RAINTREE COUNTY, THE PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL, TAMMY AND THE BACHELOR, LOVING YOU, FUNNY FACE and others -- I can still visualise it. This week two of these re-surfaced, the Marilyn and the Elizabeth saga. Of the two I think Marilyn came out the winner.
Both had been working hard throughout the early Fifties, Liz having four movies out in 1954, but once GIANT catapulted her into the  major league, she slowed down to one prestige film a year .... as did Marilyn, who had formed her own production company with Milton H Greene, after moving to New York and was seeking more important projects, than the fluff 20th Century Fox saw her in. Terence Rattigan's play, THE SLEEPING PRINCE, seemed the ideal choice, with Laurence Olivier directing and co-starring, and a good British cast, filmed in England in 1956. We have covered that in detail before here, particularly when the film MY WEEK WITH MARILYN came out. Looking at it again now it is utter delight.

It is a totally different Marilyn from her Fox movies, ace cameraman Jack Cardiff photographs her lovingly, she had never looked better and proves herself a delightful comedienne, holding her own with Olivier, whose sly portrayal is a joy too. Marilyn in that skintight white dress, with the white choker necklace, and the nice period detail. 
Good to see Richard Wattis in a good role for once, and Marilyn with Jean Kent, Maxine Audley, Gladys Henson, Vera Day and with that forgotten actor Jeremy Spenser as the young prince,  (All covered at labels). Of course the production was notoriously difficult with Marilyn's delays and insecurities, but none of it shows on the screen. Its a pleasure to sink into any time. 

RAINTREE COUNTY on the other hand is now a colossal bore and did Taylor no favours. Her damaged southern belle is no Scarlett O'Hara, and the film is a plod through the usual Civil War dramatics. 
Eva Marie Saint is wasted, but we get lots of the young Lee Marvin, Rod Taylor, Nigel Patrick. Montgomery Clift seems to stumble through it, We wonder which scenes were before and after his car accident. He and Taylor though did look great in Bob Willoughby's photos from the set, and seemed to be enjoying themselves, The film was never given the full dvd release initially, as though MGM did not want to bother with it. At least Liz had those Tennessee Williams roles lined up next: CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF and SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER, while Marilyn went back to Billy Wilder and the immortal SOME LIKE IT HOT. Liz may have been the dramatic actress, but Marilyn could sing, do comedy and musicals, as well as dramatics, and seems to have endured better.
Monroe and Taylor would be in contention again five years later in 1962 when CLEOPATRA and MM's SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE where making the headlines .... 

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