Well, I’m sure all of you who know Mr. wOw’s cinematic idiosyncrasies were expecting this post.
But I feel it will be an nice, silly relief from my Big Headache rant a few days ago, which had so many of you also reaching for the Advil! That was a serious subject, and I tried to respond to all who found me an insensitive gay man, who didn’t “stand with his own people.” I held my ground, but all that back and forth was invigorating – and as usual, I appreciated the intelligence and passion expressed by my readers!
So, on to the dumb stuff.
Last week a photo of the very good actress Michelle Williams was released to the world. Miss Williams was made up and coiffed to supposedly resemble Marilyn Monroe. Michelle has just begun filming “My Week With Marilyn,” a movie based on Colin Clark’s two questionable books about attending to Monroe during the filming of “The Prince and the Showgirl” back in 1956.
Clark, who died in 2002, was a low-level assistant to Sir Laurence Olivier. Sir Larry co-starred with MM, and directed the film. (This was the first and only project to emerge from Marilyn Monroe Productions, formed with photographer Milton Greene.)
Now, Miss Williams is very pretty. But not in this recreation. Mr. wOw thinks she looks rather … mannish and downright odd. And she is out of period, as well. Monroe’s hair was a strawberry blonde in this era, not platinum. (Yes, this is a ridiculous subject – so let’s nitpick!)
If this is what she’s going to look like in the movie, they are already off-mark. And, of course, I fear a drag-queen impersonation of Marilyn – all breathless mannerisms and baby voice – which is not how she spoke or behaved in real life. Or in “The Prince and the Showgirl,” for that matter – a splendid performance that won MM the French and Italian equivalents of America’s Oscar. One wonders if Miss Williams has bothered to even see that movie.
Aside from Miss Williams, there are other excellent actors appearing in this feature, including Judi Dench, Kenneth Branagh, Julia Ormond and Emma Watson. But as to the material … hmm. The movie is culled from Mr. Clark’s two books, The Prince, the Showgirl and Me, and his second, My Week With Marilyn.
Now, Mr. Clark was who he said he was, and no doubt had some access to Miss M. But his “diary” reads like somebody who has surfed a lot of MM biographies to fill in the yawning gaps. And his second book seems more the usual male fantasy of becoming intimate with MM.
Monroe’s marriage to Arthur Miller essentially collapsed, there in England, on their honeymoon – after Arthur “accidentally” left his own diary open for MM to read: She was a disappointment, he noted, not the angel of his dreams, and “a troublesome bitch” to Olivier.
She also miscarried during the production of the film. (As in “Some Like It Hot,” her condition is heartbreakingly obvious in some scenes.) Her insular attitude was much remarked upon by the British press, who expected a robust exhibitionist rather than the shy “diva” she became during production. (The Millers neither extended nor accepted invitations – except to meet the Queen.)
Given these traumas, why do I doubt Colin Clark’s tales of her intimate confessions and their joint escapades? Or even his psychological take on her, which reads, again, like a dozen Monroe biographies? Clark’s books are not as removed from reality as Marilyn Monroe Confidential, supposedly written by Monroe’s NYC maid – a woman who could barely speak or understand English.
But they are suspicious works, nevertheless.
Marilyn felt intimidated and threatened by all who were on Olivier’s side. Mr. Clark was on Olivier’s side. Marilyn was not one to make a fine point when feeling she was wronged. You were either with her or against her. She was implacable. Once she felt betrayed, she never forgave. It was her least attractive trait. (Indeed, MM’s close friendship with Milton Greene would be ruined because Miller convinced her Greene was too “self-interested.” Considering Miller’s own use of her, during her life and after her death, it is to laugh.)
So, we shall see what we shall see on this project. On the side of parity, in terms of how Marilyn will be portrayed, I repeat the words of Susan Strasberg, daughter of MM’s acting gurus Lee and Paula. Susan visited the set at the height of its unhappiness. She came away and remarked: “Larry says he is having trouble with her. But this is Marilyn’s production. He’s working for her. I’d say she is having trouble with him.”
But I’d bet the rent MM gets – as Sugar Kane said in “Some Like It Hot” – the “fuzzy end of the lollipop,” again.
Oh, and for anyone who thinks – or writes in – “Mr. wOw, this post was … so gay!” I’ll agree, with good humor and pride.