Why Marilyn Monroe is the world’s most misunderstood icon

Hollywood amplified her image as a sex pot. In the promotions for her starring role in Niagara (1953), the tagline dripped with hints: “Marilyn Monroe and Niagara, a raging flood of emotion that even nature can’t contain.” His name got top billing and his picture was hugely present on most of the posters. “If you’re born with what the world calls a sex drive, you can either let it crush you or use it to your advantage in the tough show business world. Choosing the right path isn’t always easy,” Marilyn told The Chicago newspaper. Tribune in 1952. That same year, in one of her most enduring performances, gold digger Lorelei Lee’s love interest in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, she established herself as a dumb blonde, which Marilyn found so depressing and limiting. “She’s mixed up with Lorelei Lee,” Bolton thinks, “she felt like she was constantly being put in these dumb blonde musical comedies, but even in those roles she’s smart and skilled. There’s something about the Monroe-isms.” Her image may have made her famous, but her talent made her last. The decision to be taken seriously led him to New York, to an acting studio, and to method acting. Even at the height of her popularity, her efforts were mocked, and in 1956 an entire book (an entire book!) was published titled “Is Acting Ruining Marilyn Monroe?” Biopics choose to weaken her further by forgetting the middle part of the story, the part where she became a highly successful and well-paid actress, challenged Fox for underpaying her, and started her own production company, Marilyn Monroe Productions, with Milton Greene. . “I’m not sure people even perceive him as an actor,” says Nehme, noting that when you watch the actual work, “you start to see how unique and intelligent the choices he makes to make it as funny as possible.”

The only exception is perhaps My Week With Marilyn (2011), a light touch of the troubled making of The Prince and the Showgirl (1957). It is the only film produced by Marilyn Monroe Productions that is told from a real-life perspective. life, love, set assistant Colin Clark, whose memoirs the film is based on. With Oscar nominee Michelle Williams playing Marilyn, the film is very much part of the “Marilyn and Me” sub-genre of books and movies – including Marilyn and Me: A Photographer’s Memoir, My Sister Marilyn and On-Screen Calendar. The Girl (1993) and Marilyn and Me (1991). However, this is the only example that even attempts to recreate Marilyn’s magic, not just her erratic and unreliable takes. Williams captures Marilyn’s sensuality without succumbing to the sex-boy persona. There are hints of the darkness that will overtake her in the near future, but it focuses on work and drive, as well as a crippling insecurity that Marilyn somehow found a way to turn into moments of pure comedic gold.

However, there is hope. Nehme believes that there is a generational shift that is inspiring a reevaluation of Marilyn Monroe: “As film critics have become younger, they have returned to the work. They are very interested in the role she played in the creation of her persona.” Dominik may have been surprised, as he suggested in a recent in an interview with Sight and Sound that people still watch (and enjoy) Gentlemen Prefer Blondes – but I don’t. Her image may be familiar to everyone now, but discovering Marilyn’s performances is always a revelation. Her feline femininity in Niagara, her awkwardness in The Prince and the Showgirl, and her knowing delivery of an all-time swagger in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Marilyn’s awareness of how she was perceived permeates every performance and informs every choice. While it may not capture Marilyn’s star power, the best Blond can do for her is encourage more people to see her actual work.

Blonde is out now in select cinemas in the US and UK, and on Netflix worldwide on September 28.

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