I never really lost my head over anything to do with Marilyn Monroe — other than Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind.” But the screen siren is hard to ignore this season; I loved My Week with Marilyn, and who can avoid the onslaught of advertising for NBC’s new show Smash, (debuting next Monday, Feb 6 at 10:00 pm) that follows the backstage antics of a Broadway musical about Marilyn?
Some ideas just get into the zeitgeist, and if that means that a movie like My Week with Marilyn gets made, it’s fine with me. Michelle Williams’ performance is fragile and heart-breaking. The film is small, but lovingly observed. Kenneth Branagh earned an Oscar Nomination for his portrayal of an increasingly cranky Laurence Olivier, but I really loved the performance by Eddie Redmayne, the young man whose job it is to escort Ms. Monroe around for a week. The movie, drawn from Colin Clark’s memoir, surmises that the two had a clandestine affair.
My favorite scene in My Week With Marilyn happens when she finally gets her act together and dances with Olivier. If you click here, you can watch a this neat photo slideshow from Vanity Fair that illustrates how costume designers helped to turn Michelle into Marilyn.
All this Monroe-ism sent me back to the films which made Marilyn a star. Here’s one big reason we can’t get her out of our mind. Two of her films still reign on the AFI’s 100 years…100 Laughs list. Much has been written trying to define Marilyn and we’ll leave that to scholars. It’s safe to say she could be very funny.
I am disturbed by a story that is making the rounds this week. A former Hollywood hanger-on named Scotty Bowers has ‘opened his little black book’ and tattled on the sexual antics of stars and royalty…now that they’re gone and can’t defend themselves. See an article about it here: Full Service: My Adventures In Hollywood And The Secret Sex Lives Of The Stars. Instead of buying a book like that, maybe we should head over and leave a flower on Marilyn’s grave. She rests at the Westwood Village Memorial Park, a quiet, peaceful little refuge with a rather remarkable group of Hollywood icons.
If the age of TMZ can be tracked back to the obsession with this screen siren – which the movie gently suggests — and if it’s terrible apex was when Diana died in a car chase with paparazzi, then aren’t we all a little to blame for the sadness that lies right behind the bright lights?