The Marilyn Monroe Movie And The Oscars: An Interesting Fact

Categories: Film

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Michelle Williams will probably get Oscar-nominated for her performance as the needy, insecure, tortured, yet magical Marilyn Monroe in My Week With Marilyn, and that's fine.

But Marilyn Monroe herself was never nominated!

Not for Some Like It Hot!

Or Bus Stop!

Or Gentlemen Prefer Blondes!

Or The Prince and the Showgirl, which My Week With Marilyn is all about the making of!

So I guess you can get a nomination for re-creating the production of that film, but not for having actually been in it.

The insanity at the time was that Marilyn was just a giddy sexpot, not an actress -- a point of view she herself took to heart when she hung on to "the method" and depended on Paula Strasberg to trail her with gushing and motivations.

But that was a tragically misguided approach because in reality, Marilyn already had the gift!

She had a natural magnetic appeal, deft comic timing, and heartbreaking pathos, and she knew exactly what to do whenever a camera loomed.

She should have had an Oscar!



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Southern Dave
Southern Dave

Pauline Kael wrote that"Niagara " "may represent Hollywood's lowest estimate of her ... It's the only movie that explored the mean, unsavory potential of Marilyn Monroe's cuddly, infantile personality. There's no affection for her here (as an) amoral, destructive tramp -- carnal as hell."

As Sugar Kane might say, "Yeah! Real hot!"

CMG
CMG

Nobody is mentioning Niagara?  Okay, it isn't Bus Stop or The Misfits but she plays a double-crosser so well.  

Nonplussed
Nonplussed

She's very good in The Prince and the Showgirl, it's still a fun movie. Oscar material? No.Some Like it Hot will live forever as a top ten movie (some stinkers too; Let's Make Love?)I've always been fond of River of No Return which is no masterpiece.Doesn't matter, none of it, her charisma and fame seem to have outlasted them all anyway.

Sean
Sean

I agree she should have won a Oscar. I loved her in "Some Like It Hot!"

Southern Dave
Southern Dave

 Thanks to Marky Mark for the quotes from George Cukor (in Gavin Lambert's superb book "On Cukor") and Constance Collier. All her life Marilyn studied with any number of dramatic, dance and musical coaches: Michael Chekhov, Charles Laughton, Natasha Lytess, Lee and Paula Strasberg. She learned mime from Lotte Goslar and  vocal music performance from Fred Karger (the love of her life) at Columbia and Hal Schaefer at Fox. For dance, she insisted on the great  Jack Cole.

Can anyone deny that her later performances benefited greatly from all  this work? I'm thinking "Bus Stop," "The Prince and the Showgirl," "Some Like It Hot" and "The Misfits."

Of course, as much as the Strasbergs helped her, they made her totally dependent on them. But at what cost to herself did she practice "The Method," which involves delving into your past emotions and experiences? The past was a treacherous minefield  for Marilyn. 

Oddly enough, though husband Arthur Miller abhorred  the Strasbergs and the Method, his sister, actress Joan Copeland (who's still with us and GREAT), studied at the Actor's Studio.

And yet, and yet ...  the most natural performance Marilyn gave on film came in Clifford Odets' "Clash by Night" in 1952, directed by Fritz Lang. I think it was because she was acting with three of the screen's most natural, powerful actors: Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Ryan and Paul Douglas. Can you imagine Marilyn trying her over--enunciated baby talk voice with Stanwyck? They had scenes together and Marilyn had to respond in kind to Stanwyck's hard-boiled, yet vulnerable characterization. Stanwyck had to recognize her younger, restless self in Marilyn. and Marilyn sort of looked to Stanwyck as the independant  woman she might become. And they played together beautifully!

They had the kind of give-and-take that Anne Bancroft described in her one scene with Marilyn in "Don't Bother to Knock."

Vivi
Vivi

She was also brilliant in Seven Year itch.

Ynnocence
Ynnocence

Haven't seen Prince and the Showgirl yet, but with those 3 other films you could apply what's called the commutational test: would any other actress (then or now, American or foreign) have done as good, or better, in those roles? I've been thinking on this on and off since the blog got posted, and I've decided ... to give up. Marilyn Monroe's performances might have some flaws - moments when she could have been more effective - but no one else could have brought to those roles the strange, arresting, artificial yet vibrant and seemingly from-the-heart delivery that she pulled off.

Then again, we could dismiss Musto's point altogether by just saying he's biased because, you know, they've got the same initials and traffic in popularity. Just as, you know, Obama's presidency will never count because of his skin color. Or Lady Gaga can't possibly have talent because she's too successful. And so it goes.

Carl Theodore Dryer
Carl Theodore Dryer

Look, I don't care how you slice and dice it,  no one, not one single actor could match Larry.  The dissenters who say he's hammy and over the top, are full of shit. Well, I take that back.  He was awful, just awful as Shylock.  That was mugging, and upstaging, and pure ham, but Christ, his Othello.  Un- fucking believable.  I think a lot of people saw so much more into MM than was really there.  She was one fucked up broad, I tell you.  Tried to get her to get me a gig in Hollywood, said she'd make some calls, and then the dumb bitch goes and overdoses herself, probably because Bobby wouldn't fuck her that day. 

MarkyMark
MarkyMark

Quotes from George Cukor -

She was very concerned about a lot of rather pretentious things (she'd done a lot of shit-ass studying), and I'd say, "But, Marilyn, you're so accomplished, you do things that are frightfully dificult to do."  She had this absolute unerring touch with comedy. In real life she didn't seem funny, but she had this touch. She acted as if she didn't quite understand why it was funny, which is what made it so funny. She could also do low comedy - pratfalls and things like that - but I think her friends told her it wasn't worthy of her. As a director, I really had very little influence on her. All I could do was make a climate that was agreeable for her.

She wouldn't match things - you know, when you have a cigarette in one scene, and when you cut to the close shot, you can't not have the cigarette. She simply coudn't bother with this. And she couldn't sustain scenes. She'd do three lines and the forget the rest, she'd do another line and then forget everything again. You had to shoot it piecemeal. But curiously enough, when you strung everything together, it was all complete. She never could to the same thing twice, but, as with all the true movie queens, there was an excitement about her.

Quote from Constance Collier -

I don’t think she is an actress at all, not in any traditional sense. What she has – this presence, this luminosity, this flickering intelligence – could never surface on the stage. It’s so fragile and subtle, it can only be caught by the camera. It’s like a hummingbird in flight; only a camera can freeze the poetry of it. But anyone who thinks this girl is simply another Harlow or harlot or whatever is mad. I hope, I really pray, that she survives long enough to free the strange, lovely talent that’s wandering through her like a jailed spirit.

mjm
mjm

didn't Marilyn win a Golden Globe? that's pretty close to winning an Oscar...

she was robbed of a nomination for Bus Stop

Sutureself
Sutureself

Well, Pia Zadora also won a Golden Globe and so did Andie Macdowell. I'm just sayin'.

Vodkastinger
Vodkastinger

yes she should have.  underrated because of her looks, monroe is a fabulous actress

Jonster
Jonster

I read the book.  Colin Clark (author) is a poofter but can't admit it.  Monroe wanted him.  He declined.  He makes several references to "queers" and that scene, but never comes clean.  He talks about a wardrobe girl who gives him a handjob.  Of course, it was 1956.  Later in life, he had a marriage that lasted two months, and then inherited a castle from a gay man he said he didn't sleep with "because the guy was a pederast."  But how'd you get the castle then?  He said in every shot Marilyn acted Olivier off the screen just by showing up.  She needed 18 takes to say two words.

Marijane Gray
Marijane Gray

Colin is a pathological liar. She was not after a third assistant director while on her honeymoon. He joins a legion of men who think that if they met Monroe for ten minutes they could turn that into a career of claiming they slept with her. If she slept with every man who claimed she did, she'd never have had time to make any movies.

Rhys
Rhys

Maybe Colin is just British.

Melinda9
Melinda9

Well, she never played a hooker I don't think, which is the easy way to get an Oscar. Or is that what the Bus Stop character was?

Rhys
Rhys

She played a hooker in every film she ever did.

Rhys
Rhys

She pretty much played a hooker in every film she did.

Rich Lopez
Rich Lopez

I don't think she was all that deserving. She had some good performances, but just because she was Marilyn Monroe (which seems to be your point), should she have won.

Listerine
Listerine

Garbo and Dietrich never won either, but at least they were nominated. The whole system is fucked up.

Marva
Marva

I think she won some award for Prince and the SHowgirl but you're right, never an Oscar, never even a nomination. Criminal!!

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