When I found out that Turner Classic Movies was holding a marathon of her films today (in memory of the 50th anniversary of her death), I knew there was no way I'd be missing out. Regrettably, although this marathon extended until far past midnight, evening plans forced me to only be able to watch three of these films, which I shall briefly go over for the remainder of this post.
"Your imagination! You think every girl's a dope. You think a girl goes to a party and there's some guy in a fancy striped vest strutting around giving you that I'm-so-handsome-you-can't-resist-me look. From this she's supposed to fall flat on her face. Well, she doesn't fall on her face. But there's another guy in the room, over in the corner. Maybe he's nervous and shy and perspiring a little. First, you look past him. But then you sense that he's gentle and kind and worried. That he'll be tender with you, nice and sweet. That's what's really exciting."It is at this moment when Monroe's true character - not her cinematic character - begins to shine through; it's as if Marilyn herself is speaking these words from her heart. From what I believe is just an average film, this may be one of the most satisfying moments in any film I've seen from her.
The third and final film is also my personal favorite of the bunch: Some Like It Hot (1959), also written and directed by Billy Wilder. This film was quite controversial in its time, as the two male leads - Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon - resort to posing as women for an all-female road band in order to escape from some gangsters. Time has softened the blow of its content, but the humor itself remains fresh and satisfying. Moreover, Jack Lemmon is one of my all-time favorite actors, and this film is my second favorite Wilder comedy (with The Apartment leading the way only slightly!). I do believe that Marilyn herself is the most radient in this film than she has ever been in her life. Although this was the point of her life where her personal life was in turmoil, it had never once been apparent in the final product. Her performance as Sugar Kane is one that is both absolutely adorable and great at showcasing the independent woman that Monroe herself had strived to become. This is also one of the finest examples of musical talent that she possessed - just watch her lovely performances of "I Wanna Be Loved By You" and (my personal favorite) "I'm Through With Love". These performances - especially the latter - really reveal a more vulnerable side of Monroe that had either been torn apart by the media, or completely disregarded altogether. It's moments like these when viewers remember that she is, in fact, a human being, one that has been hurt, but continues to build herself up and prevail.
Unfortunately, TCM never played my personal favorite Monroe performance - The Misfits - but I'll save that for another day. Although it has been fifty years since Marilyn's death, her legacy continues to live on, almost as if she were still alive in this day and age. I've heard many call Monroe's image and popularity "overrated" and similar terms, which I would have to completely disagree with. Much of what I've read about Monroe indicates that she was a strong woman, up until her death, and I think that any and all such praise of that alone is not useless and, especially in her case, most definitely deserved.