Oh I am writing an essay, this is too much of a loaded question. And you should watch her films, you can find the links to them in the Marilyn Directory-Filmography. And I can never write anything in a straightforward way so good luck reading!
Okay because Tumblr has been eating my messages like crazy lately (I think it’s cause I don’t give up the missing E) I shall post my nonsense (please keep in mind that I have walked for 8 hours today and I have not done this in a REALLY long time so I may be a bit delirious and not make that much sense. Also I have not seen ALL of Marilyn’s films because some of the early ones are hard to find). Okay.. you ready?
So during Marilyn’s fame, it was the post WWII years. Women have had a taste of “freedom”, of working for a living but now the boys were back and it was time for the wives to go back to their ‘original purpose’ (to make up for all the men killed in the war…even though US didn’t spend that much time in the war but that’s a whole different topic) and play house. Most of the movies about women during that time were about women being determined to be part of the men’s world but in the end they realize “jobs? Phew! I need a husband and a lot of babies to take care of.” So what is a sex symbol doing in a repressed society (on the outside… the actual parties they had are nothing you’ve ever dreamed of if you read some accounts)? Exactly that! We want what we can’t have. Yet at the same time Marilyn was just an image and Norma Jeane’s innocence came through letting Marilyn get away with much more than anyone who didn’t have her innocence (and example is Marilyn reading “communist” authors, posing with black children/men [although at the time they cut out the black guy… you can look it up on the marilyn directory-politics], all her “skimpy” bathing suits).What Marilyn wanted was a child but she didn’t want to have a child be brought up the way she was, she wanted the child to have a mommy and a daddy yet at the same time she wanted her career (e.g. Joe DiMaggio REALLY wanted Marilyn to quit the Hollywood scene and become an ‘Italian’ wife but Marilyn’s career was just beginning so soar and she didn’t want to quit).
Now while Marilyn wasn’t a full-on feminist in the 70s way, she wasn’t going to let men push her around. She started her own film production company (though only one film was made but after that she had her own pick of the litter so to say, i.e. she could pick directors, film projects etc).
While Marilyn kept up her “sex symbol/movie star” image when in public, I’ve read that she would often not bathe or brush her hair during her time off (and I’d probably do the same thing when you’re being paraded for a majority of your life) and she’d walk differently, dress differently when she wasn’t ”Marilyn”. She had her problems, like everyone else but to a majority of movie goers she was what she portrayed on screen. I believe Rita Hayworth (as you know sources on the internet mean nothing) said something along the lines of ” men go to bed with Gilda but wake up with me,” meaning that men have such expectations of an actress that is portrayed sexually that they think the actress is the character and will perform the same way. And after Marilyn passed, Clara Bow (paraphrasing) said (about herself and Marilyn), “a sex symbol is a heavy thing to carry when one is tired, hurt and bewildered.”
Marilyn wasn’t what she portrayed on film, but the not so outwardly smart-sexy-blonde is an easier pill to swallow and sell rather than a woman with feelings and brains and beauty.
Marilyn had a library of over 400 books, most non-fiction (when was the last time you read a non-fiction book not for school?)
I wanted to say more but it’s almost 2 am and I’m falling asleep so next part, films. I haven’t seen all of them [and saw some a long time ago] (did I say that in my head before or on here… :S ) because the early ones are hard to come by.
Let’s start with The Asphalt Jungle.
In The Asphalt Jungle, Marilyn portrays a young mistress of a crooked lawyer, calling him “Uncle Lon.” She is meant to be the alibi for a jewel robbery but the cops force the truth out of her, he goes out to make a phone call and shoots himself. Now I don’t remember much of the movie so that’s all you get for this one.
In All About Eve, Marilyn plays another small comedic role of a struggling actress. While she is a “dumb blonde”, very innocent, she is dedicated and gets what she wants. Again been a while since I saw it. Then there’s a couple I have but haven’t seen yet, or don’t have and haven’t seen. Continuing on,
In Monkey Business, she’s another pretty dumb blonde. When asked why is she so early, she replies ”Mr. Oxley’s been complaining about my punctuation, so I’m careful to get here before nine.” She is (cheese metaphor) the dessert to the make course that is the main story. She is sexy but very covered up, only showing Cary Grant her acetates.
In Clash By Night, she plays a working woman but ruled by her boyfriend. They aren’t afraid to hit each other and the guy is rather jealous (kind of reminds me on the DiMaggio/Monroe relationship in the jealousy/hitting department). During this time the famous nude shoot of Norma Jeane came up and the studio wanted her to deny it but she thought it would be the best to say the truth and she did and the audience loved her more for it.
In Don’t Bother to Knock, Marilyn portrays a woman with mental issues, which must have been difficult to film as her family had mental issues and her mother (along with some other members of the family) were taken to the mental hospital (I can’t think of another word for it I’m too damn tired ). Her role was to be a beautiful and suicidal babysitter but she “seduces” the man in the room across them and when the little girl gets in the way she wants to take her out (in mobster terms). In the end she goes back to the hospital (I think, again a while since I saw it).
In Niagara, she is a cheating wife to a rather boring man. She and her lover plan to kill her husband but he ends up killing her (and the lover too… I think).
In Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, at first she portrays a “maneater, dumb blonde, golddigger”, she is really rather smart and only acts that way because most men don’t like her smart. She marries the geeky but rich man, who is controlled by his rich daddy.
In How to Marry a Millionaire, she is innocent and a comedic relief, believing that men don’t like girls with glasses she spends most of the movie bumping into things until she find another “everyday” man with glasses who accepts her and her glasses.
In most films, Marilyn is paired against the “everyday” man, making her more accessible to the public.
River of No Return she is a tough cookie. But the thing that bothered me was that Robert Mitchum tries to rape her but she forgives him quickly (I forget why).
There’s No Business Like Show Business, she is smart and works her way up the top. Sure she tricks Donald O’Connor to get the Heat Wave number but if he is dumb enough to fall just because of her looks than that’s his fault. But in the end they do end up together and in love.
The Seven Year Itch. She doesn’t even have a name in this one, she’s just The Girl. She is not a homewrecker and finds it lovely that she’s with a married man since she knows nothing will happen with a married man. She only kisses him to prove that the toothpaste she’s selling is working good. Another everyday man.
Bus Stop… oh god I am annoyed with this film ( but not as much as RoNR). The 21yo cowboy decides that Marilyn (the experience chanteuse) is his angel and he wants to marry her. Kinda like how Romeo meet Juliet and with his dick decided he loved her and had to marry her… I mean what… All through the movie, Don Murray is an obnoxious dickhole who kidnaps Marilyn though she doesn’t put up much of a struggle. And after being bitchslapped by the bus driver, Don calms down after a talk with his friend and then Marilyn realizes she loves him and will go anywhere with him. And her dreams of being a Hollywood singer (even though she wasn’t that great but all her life wanted to do that) are cancelled and she gets with Don instead.
The Prince and the Showgirl= one night stand gone awry. Laurence wants to get it on with Marilyn but Marilyn says hell no for most of the night, till she gets liquered up and decides that she will fall in love with him because she always always does. In the end they don’t sleep together and it’s unknown what happens to them as they part ways . But point was that Laurence wanted to sleep with her but she rejected him, he gets pissed off, she gets drunk, sleeps it off, goes in the royal carriage and eventually falls in love with him and he with her only to part ways.
Some Like It Hot. She will never fall again for a saxophone player and wants the everyday rich man with glasses and a yacht which what’s his face adopts the personality of, and the voice of Cary Grant. Eventually he shows his true colours that he isn’t a woman-rich-everyday-man-with-glasses-and-a-yacht but really a saxophone player but she doesn’t care and is in love with him.
Let’s Make Love. This doesn’t deserve a sentence but she is a studious actress in a off Broadway play, while everyone involved with Yves Montand she’s slutty-mcgoo, she actually lives with her priest or pastor papa and goes to night school to become educated. In the end she may/may not give up school now that she has a rich french Yves Montand.
The Misfits. Three guys (representing Hollywood, the world, and ppl Marilyn knew) all want a piece of Marilyn but she’s not willing to give it.
Something’s got to give. Marilyn comes back after a shipwreck to find her husband married, yet the husband is mad that she spent time on an island trapped with a hunky dory man. (in the original the husband and wife get together).
Oh god, this so did not help you, did it?
P.S. All the names are of the actual actors not the characters.