Unforgettable: The Magic of Marilyn in the Movies
Unforgettable: The Magic of Marilyn in the Movies In the essay entitled "Marilyn in the Movies," McCann argues that the movie industry capitalized on Marilyn~s sex appeal and depended on her ability to arouse and tantalize audiences. The unique quality she points out about Marilyn is that she could be sexier with all her clothes on then most women could by wearing nothing. In an era of sexual repression and the Red scare, the appeal of Marilyn made her a valuable commodity. She had a quality that no one else could imitate. It was a mixture of innocence and uncontrollable sexuality. These unique qualities made her more than a stereotype according to McCann who describes her as a paradox that both Marilyn and the studio puzzled over. There was no one to match Marilyn and she simply became known as "the girl" who could instantly add sex appeal to any movie or scene she was given.
But McCann also uncovers a portrait of Marilyn struggling to become a serious actress. She paints a picture of determination and tenacity in her quest for respect in an industry accustomed to using people. McCann identifies 'Don~t Bother to Knock' and 'Niagra' as the two films that finally gave her prestige. She also uses the former film where Marilyn plays a twisted baby-sitter to reveal the similarities between the character and the actress. Both are described as a lost child-woman, hopelessly alienated, sensitive, strange, and inarticulate. McCann argues that this tortured personality displayed by Marilyn both on screen and off makes her work harder at acting than is seen on the surface.
I agree with McCann there was much crossover and similarity between Marilyn as an actress and Marilyn as a person. I will argue that her success lie in being who she was naturally despite attempts by studios and acting coaches to do otherwise. The luminosity that shown through was the true Marilyn that no one could alter or take away. I will display the conflict, determination, and irrepressible appeal that made Marilyn the actress no one can forget. I will argue that she was indeed more than a stereotype, despite studio efforts to turn her into one. I will show evidence that as an actress and a woman, Marilyn was a clever and calculating force who used the press, the producers, and the studios to fashion the life she desired.
Marilyn was able to develop a life that hit the world with such force that it turned her into a legend. If she were alive today, she would be delighted to discover that the public is still fascinated with her persona that is often imitated and widely admired. The success of this persona lies in the secret that it was not manufactured. It was not coerced. It was all Marilyn.
The fact that the actress shown on screen also captured the insecurities and innocence of Marilyn as a woman, attributed to the fact that you could not take your eyes off of her when she appeared in a scene. In the movie 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Marilyn outshines Jane Russell in every scene. Although it can be argued that the studio manufactured the movie in this way to showcase Marilyn, it repeatedly happened in every film Marilyn made. In the movie 'Niagra,'Marilyn appears for a solo number in a red dress that is so captivating it seems to be what people remember most about an otherwise grey and conflictory movie. This film depicts a tortured, jealous husband who is disturbing to watch. Marilyn plays the bad girl who is cold hearted in her attempt to kill her husband and escape with a lover but she still ends up as a character that you like in the end. Indeed, she is the most exciting and exotic of anyone else cast in the film. Once she is murdered toward the end, it is much less interesting to watch the outcome.
Marilyn had the ability to captivate people on screen and off. She wa s adored by the public and invaded by the press. The recognition she worked her whole life to gain became an oppressive force that invaded her privacy. Her marriage to Arthur Miller was turned into a dark circus due to his forced HUAC testimony and an unrelenting press promoting violence and frenzy. A horrible accident occurred during a car chase in Connecticut where the couple were hoping for a quiet wedding. They were being pursued by a car carrying the New York bureau chief for Paris Match , Mara Scherbatoff, and a young male driver. When they heard the crash behind them, Marilyn and Miller rushed to the car where a gory scene confronted them. "Scherbatoff had been hurled partway through the windshield. Marilyn helped to dislodge her, placing her on the ground beside the open car door." Thirty minutes later, Marilyn had to appear happy and smiling at a press conference that was scheduled with Arthur Miller.
For Marilyn Monroe, acting in front of the camera was only one facet o f her life. She was forced to act in her personal life as well due to expectations from the public, the press, and the men in her life. Marilyn became adept at performing for them all depending on the circumstance. I argue that part of her success on screen was her ability to do this and to do it well. It was evident that Marilyn took control when Miller was distraught from his HUAC hearings. She adroitly used her prestige with the press to take away the negative sting they could create by portraying Miller as a sympathetic Communist. "Clearly, Arthur had made a mess in Washington. Marilyn decided to put her own spin on things right away. She called a press conference to be held on the sidewalk outside her apartment building to the focus on their upcoming marriage.
I point to these serious issues in her life which she had to confront as an example of a parallel they created in her quest to become a serious actress. Marilyn took on the challenge of a difficult life by using the traits she developed to tackle a difficult career. She used the luminosity she displayed on screen to coerce public sympathy and control the press. The talents Marilyn developed came from the life she lived and her inherent qualities of sex appeal and charm. Her biggest mistake may have been trying to develop as an actress when naturally she had it all along. Thus the paradox of Marilyn Monroe.