Steen: Vulnerable Marilyn

My Week With Marilyn

The story of the making of The Prince and the Showgirl is the basis for this one hour and 36 minute movie.

Eddie Redmayne, plays Colin Clark, who wrote an account of working on the film which starred Marilyn Monroe and Sir Lawrence Olivier in 1957. The book was published nearly 40 years later—but one week was missing in the account.This film is the true story of that missing week.

Marilyn Monroe, played well by Michelle Williams but missing the timbre of that throaty whisper that was so Marilyn (rememberHappy Birthday, Mr. President?), was born in the charity ward of LA County Hospital in 1926. Yes, Marilyn Monroe would have been 86 years old this year! Born Norma Jean Mortenson, she was passed from family member to family friend as her mother was mentally unstable. To avoid being placed in an orphanage a family friend orchestrated a marriage proposal when she was 16.

In 1945, while working at an aeronautical plant, a photographer took her photo and by 1946 she was Marilyn Monroe.

At the time of the filming of The Prince and the Showgirl at Pinewood Studio, Sir Lawrence Olivier, played by Kenneth Branagh, was, at the time, married to Vivien Leigh (Julie Ormond). Leigh, herself a prolific performer, suffered from bipolar disorder and chronic tuberculosis; they divorced in 1960. As life imitated art, Vivien says in the movie: “at 43, no one will love me for very much longer.”

Leigh died in 1967 from TB. Olivier, like all Monroe’s leading men fell for her but was frustrated by her chronic tardiness and seeming lack of preparedness. Olivier; however, found that when Marilyn was “on” there was no one like her.

This show, directed by Simon Curtis has a great cast including Judi Dench, Emma Watson, from the Harry Potter series, Dougray Scott as her then husband, writer Arthur Miller, Zoe Wanamaker as Paula Strasberg, her acting coach and mentor to name a few.

I loved this movie and it was pretty sad and a bit creepy to be one of only eight people in the largest theatre in the valley (The Paramount) on Saturday night. The show had a deep story of a talent that was out of her depth in the real world and, likely due to a lack of love in childhood, spent the rest of her life looking for it in all the wrong places. This was also Colin’s story of his week with the most famous woman of her time.

There were many great lines, but one I really liked was spoken by Judi Dench in the role of Dame Sybil, a woman she knew in real life: “When one is young, one should use lots of mascara, when one is old, one should use more.”

If you remember when movie stars weren’t pencil thin, when Nixon was vice-president, Tang hit the stores, 13-year-old Bobby Fisher became chess champion and maybe you began to understand that being a star did not give you a free ride to happiness, then you might enjoy this as much as I did.

I give it five stars.

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