Sunday, April 03, 2016

Object of desire

At least her character had a name in "Let's Make Love"
Recently I forced myself to watch two Marilyn Monroe movies that I was pretty sure I wasn't going to like much, and I didn't.

"Let's Make Love" is known for being pretty awful. It focuses on a rich guy played by Yves Montand and he uses his money to coerce Marilyn Monroe's character into spending time with him, most dishonorably by having his flunky buy a majority share of the off-Broadway play she is in. He's just a complete creep. And it's hard to believe that Montand was some kind of movie heartthrob - he looks goofy to me.  As far as I'm concerned the only thing the movie has going for it is this number, "Specialization." You have to give it to Frankie Vaughn for his perfect New York dialect - he's an Englishman.

Monroe, who was in her early 30s by this point and coming off the success of "Some Like It Hot" plays a nothing character, as she complained afterwards. Her role is to be the object of desire for the Montand character.

And it's the same thing in "The Seven Year Itch." Itch was based on a theater sex farce. And, to my surprise, is still being produced on the stage. The movie is very much a play, so much so that the Ewell character gets a whole bunch of expository monologues.

This documentary mentions that Ewell is very average-looking, at best, cast as an "everyman" so the the movie could be a male fantasy. Kind of like what Judd Apatow does in almost all his work, except Apatow and his male critic enablers try to pretend that the attractiveness gap is not at all a male fantasy, just normal and to be expected.

Also according to the documentary, the censors suppressed so much of sexual aspects of the film that the only thing that saved it was Monroe's presence. Causing the author of the play and co-author of the screenplay, George Axelrod to complain:
She unbalanced the whole picture because it's essentially the guy's story. It's really about the man, but it became about Marilyn Monroe.
This is complete bullshit. The movie is completely about Ewell's character and never veers from his point of view. Monroe's character is never anything but a fantasy object of desire.  Her character doesn't even get a name - she's just "the girl."

Pretty much in every movie Monroe made, her job with to be the object of a man's desire. No wonder she was so fed up.

One of the things I want to do with my NORMA JEANE play is to make it completely about her, and her point of view. And she's going to get all the monologues.

(Fun fact - you can see photos like these for pretty much every Monroe movie just by Googling "Monroe costume test."