Monday, June 18, 2012

(30) Stars of Summer - Day 18: Marilyn Monroe

Happy birthday, Mr. President.

Here are the rules. Check out this list of all the month's actors with links to what's available on Netflix Instant. If you're not a Netflix subscriber, maybe this will help.

Day 1: Jimmy Stewart
Day 2: Catherine Deneuve
Day 3: Christopher Lee
Day 4: Bette Davis
Day 5: Nicolas Cage
Day 6: Diane Keaton 
Day 7: Orson Welles 
Day 8: Catherine Keener 
Day 9: Kurt Russell
Day 10: Pam Grier
Day 11: Clint Eastwood
Day 12: Susan Sarandon 
Day 13: Cary Grant 
Day 14: Barbara Stanwyck 
Day 15: Keith David 
Day 16: Frances McDormand 
Day 17: Gary Oldman


  1. Monkey Business (1952)

    With this screwball comedy, Howard Hawks seems to be trying to re-create the magic of Bringing Up Baby, with Cary Grant once again playing a bumbling professor. Unfortunately, while there's tons of frentic action there's very little actual fun. Even the opening music works overtime to persuade us of the wackiness that's about to ensue. Marilyn Monroe is in the movie all too briefly, but steals every scene she's in with her effortless chemistry and sex appeal.

  2. The Seven Year Itch (1955)

    One of the last Billy Wilder movies I haven't seen. It also might be one of his worst. The movie is based on a play, and it really shows -- it's so stiff and stagey. Marilyn Monroe is fine because she's a force of nature, but too often feels like she's in a high school production. And maybe it's just me, but I found Tom(my) Ewell to be a really unappealing lead. This was a big disappointment.

    1. Walter Matthau auditioned for the lead role; he would have been great.

      There's weaknesses, granted, but I think the movie is just such an amusing concept that it always makes me smile.

      Marilyn Monroe may be more beautiful in this film than any she ever made.

    2. Walter Matthau would have been a much more enjoyable lead. Oh well.

      I like the concept, and I like a lot of the fantasy sequences. I just never felt like the movie figured out a way to explore the concept beyond having the main character talk out loud to himself. It just felt like a photographed stage play, which it kind of is. And I missed the sharpness of Billy Wilder's usual dialogue.

      This was the first movie I've seen with Marilyn Monroe in color; she is incredibly pretty. I'll still give the edge to Some Like It Hot, but that's because almost anyone looks more beautiful in black and white.

  3. Love Happy

    There is something staggeringly depressing about watching a talented group of performers put on a show several years past their sell-by date, but that's exactly what this is. The Marx Bros are visibly bored here, forcing schtick that was tired 10 years before this movie was made. Monroe appears very briefly, but there's nothing memorable here. Shameful.

    1. I may have a different perspective of this film as it was actually the first Marx Bros movie I ever saw, and I liked it enough to continue onward. I still think it's very amusing, particularly for Harpo fans.

    2. I'm enough of a Marx Bros fan to be gratified by this. I'm glad you can appreciate this movie, and it's good to know it has its defenders. It reeked of flop sweat to me, but I may be judging too harshly based on what I've seen the Bros be capable of.

  4. What a woman. What..a..woman.

    Don't Bother To Knock (1952)

    Marilyn Monroe plays an emotionally disturbed babysitter in this little-seen thriller. Interesting concept, but very little actually happens and the suspense is minimum.

    Monroe herself is good, but she's never really given the ball, as she was not yet an established star. More attention is paid to co-star Richard Widmark, who was an actor who always looked like he'd rather be doing anything than making a movie. For Monroe collectors only.

  5. THERE'S NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS. Not exactly a plot-heavy movie, is it? Any semblance of story only exists to string together a bunch of overly long musical numbers. There's no main character, no antagonist, no structure. And yet, because it's a 1950s musical, I can't bring myself to totally hate it, because everybody is so freakin' HAPPY.

    Marylin is pretty good, but she's done this type of character in other, better movies, most notably SOME LIKE IT HOT (which is, of course, great). Her "Heat Wave" number was pretty awesome, though. Ethel Merman gets some of the funniest lines. She's more in cool "Muppet Show guest star" mode here, rather than in lame "Love Boat guest star mode.

    But, mostly, despite all its positive energy, the movie left me bored.

  6. SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959)

    I saw this only because AFC named it the funniest comedy of all time, and to say I was disappointed is an understatement. I'm sure at one point in '59 seeing Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis dressed in drag to avoid the mob (with Marilyn doing her cute-and-ditzy blonde routine for all the eye-candy factor its worth) was the height of hilarity, just as seeing Milton Behrle on TV in drag on the early days of TV was a hoot-and-a-half. Point is, this movie's so-called humor has aged badly and other than Curtis and Lemmon being wonderfully committed to Billy Wilder's energy it's just a drag (get it? Har, har!) just to sit through it again in 2012.