Posts tagged ‘Marilyn Monroe’
A History Lesson By Way of Franklin Pierce, Stephen A. Douglas and Abraham Lincoln’s Really Great, Awesomely Bad Hair
So, there’s this obsession with the 16th president of the United States that I’ve had pretty much all my life. It hit me, all of a sudden, early in the 7th grade when for no reason at all I found myself crying because I was assigned to cover Franklin Pierce for our presidential reports instead of Lincoln. Our teacher assigned the presidents in alphabetical order and my surname came just two letters shy of “L”. And so the fate of Mr. Lincoln’s five page double-spaced, Times New Roman report was destined for a classmate who, bless his heart, was under the impression that every sentence ought to begin with a pronoun. (And, judging by his Facebook profile, this still appears to be the case. Not that I stalk old classmates on Facebook. Ever.)
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This post is in conjunction with Sittin’ On A Backyard Fence’s “Summer Under the Stars Blogathon”—a month-long celebration of the film icons being spotlighted each day, all day, on Turner Classic Movies. Today, the eve of the 50th Anniversary of the tragic passing of Marilyn Monroe, I am dedicating this post to the Blogathon and, more importantly, to Monroe. A tormented woman of strength and talent that, five decades on, still shines… and inspires.
Perhaps one of the many reasons I have such a deep admiration and respect for Marilyn is due to the fact that the first film I saw of hers, or rather, the first film I remember watching start to finish ( Marilyn’s films are so rooted in our cultural subconscious that someone can feel as though they’ve seen her films even if they haven’t) was not her fluffy, fun, frivolous light comedies that immortalized her. Read more ►
“Awards! All this town does is give awards! Best Fascist Dictator, Adolf Hitler!” – Woody Allen, Annie Hall
If by chance you are unfamiliar with how the Awards season works, here’s a brief outline: Studios tend to release their real Oscar contenders (i.e., films with any sort of non-mainstream artistic merit) until the year’s final Quarter when, badda bing badda boom, theatres find themselves gorged with posters fairly grafittied by four stars and gratuitous praise– all of which prominently feature the words BEST FILM OF THE YEAR in bolded Times New Roman. Courting the attentions of voting members of the Academy and industry guilds, these films bottleneck around Thanksgiving, just in time for the first in a long slew of awards nominations. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association unofficially kicks off the Oscar race with the Golden Globes, followed in quick succession by the major industry guild awards, The PGA, DGA and SAG, all of which have a heavy influence on the Oscar outcome (the DGA has failed to predict the best director Oscar only 7 times in the past 60 years). The BAFTAs roll around in early February and, by then, the hotly contended Oscar race has been wined and dined until the Academy members’ votes have been more or less… secured. If this sounds like a well-oiled political machine, that’s because it is. By the time Oscar night rolls around, the odds are so firmly fixed that there are few, if any, surprises. Read more ►
Another public apology, this time to the marvelous Shadowplay blog– a longtime Pictorial favorite. I agreed to participate in their recent The Late Films Blogathon: a week long look at the final films of directors, actors and writers. A fascinating concept and I was psyched to participate and… absolutely bollocked it up. More than a week overdue, here’s my entry. Major apologies to Shadowplay– one of the best damn blogs on the web.
By 1961, the Hollywood Studio System had begun a slow rot from the inside out which would, by decade’s end, see to its total collapse thus ending the Golden Age of classical Hollywood. The Misfits, directed by John Huston and penned by Arthur Miller, is a fascinating relic from those years in flux that bewildered its audiences just as much as it bewildered the execs. On paper, the words Clark Gable (the king), Marilyn Monroe (the queen) and Montgomery Clift (the rebel) looked like box office magic. The result is a mixed bag that would be Gable and Monroe’s final film, and one of Clift’s last. Read more ►
When it comes to Technicolor, there are some names that are inextricably linked with that definitive Classic Hollywood process. Marilyn Monroe and her flaming pink Niagara dress? Vivien Leigh and her crimson negligee in Gone With the Wind? Classic. But while most people equate Gene Tierney with the sultry, smoky, definitively film noir shadows of black and white cinema, for me her ethereal beauty was simply made for Technicolor. Tierney’s extraordinary beauty is a matter of record. That stunning Laura portrait of her is matched only by the flesh itself– and bested in her subsequent color films. Leave Her to Heaven, with Leon Shamroy’s decadent cinematography, is her most famous color film. But even in her frivolous forays, like On the Riviera with Danny Kaye, the Technicolor Tierney is impossibly perfect.
This shot, fresh and carefree, is my personal favorite photo of Tierney. Young and energetic, she was still some time yet from those dark demons that would come to possess her. The tragedy of her daughter’s birth was years off, and her internal personal battle, although prevalent, was not yet consuming.
I love the hope and life and genuine spark of this week’s Pictorial palette– and hope that Gene, a beautiful woman inside and out, enjoyed more of these joyful moments than her legend suggests.