Saturday, 16 March 2013

My Week with Marilyn

Listening to Benny Goodman Stomping at the Savoy, Tommy Dorsey Song of India, Count Basie One O’clock jump, Bob Crosby BobCats, Teddy Wilson Don’t be that Way, Lionel Hampton Muscrat Ramble, Artie Shaw Begin the Begin, Bob Crosby, Woody Herman at the Woodchoppers Ball, Glenn Miller Moonlight Serenade, Jimmy Dorsey I got Rhythm, and Dorsey Brothers Huneysuckle Rose.


The most interesting film of recent weeks not previously mentioned is My Week with Marilyn which is based on her visit to the UK in 1956 to make the Prince and the Showgirl with Sir Laurence Olivier played in this film by Kenneth Branagh. The film is based on the books by Colin Clark on his life and relationship with Marilyn during the brief period in which she made the film after her husband, the writer Henry Miller, returned to the USA. There is some controversy over the extent of his relationship with the extraordinary star.


Monroe was a serious actress who trained in the Method and was notorious for her temperament, appalling time keeping and inability to remember her lines. Those who know her story will appreciate her vulnerability and the extent to which she was exploited by men who ought to have known better. Whether she committed suicide, her death was accidental or she was murdered is unlikely to ever be resolved just as he death of President Kennedy, her one time lover.


I liked the film and having looked at some of the available material am inclined to accept the main thesis, that because of the abominable way she was treated by Olivier  who saw the film as making him to a Hollywood star and that Miller could not cope with what most regard as a trophy wife and returned to the USA she felt  abandoned and isolated despite the presenceof her  acting coach (Zoe Wannamker) and  her young business partner/manger with whom she  had also  a relationship and turned to the young Colin who was mesmerised by her, provided attention and comfort and may well have enjoyed a sexual experience or two with her.


Eddie Redmayne plays Colin and whose performance in Les Miserables is also a revelation. In the film he gets a job on the film as a personall assistant through his family’s friendship with the Olivier’s. He stays at a local Inn and takes an interest in a young wardrobe assistant played by Emily Watson, of Harry Potter fame.


Michelle Williams as Marilyn brilliantly captures her on screen personality and all that has been written about her at that time and for which she justifiably won a Golden Globe and Academy and BAFTA Best Actress nomination. The film brings out the concern of Oliver’s wife Vivian Leigh that Olivier would fall in love with his screen partner, as was his want, although this tendency did not prevent his anger and criticism at the way she behaved, disregarding her acting abilities and talent until late in the day. She found it difficult to understand the character for which in truth she was inappropriately cast although her performance showed was she was capable of. In this she was helped by fellow actor Sybil Thorndyke (Judy Dench) as much as her acting coach..


For me there is a credibility about the relationship between the young and comparatively innocent Colin then aged 23 and Marilyn with her childlike qualities. In the film he takes her on a visit to Eton where he was a pupil and around Windsor Castle where his father (Derek Jacobi) was based as Keeper of the Queen’s Paintings. This reminds when I was taken to visit the Leonardo drawings at Windsor Castle by the Jewish daughter of a top City accountant.

The interlude between the two helps Marilyn to regain her focus and she returns to complete the film. She went on to great success  especially  in Some Like It Hot and other films but Oliver  instead of making it in Hollywood had his greatest  theatrical role  which he  then took to the  screen as Archie Rice in the Entertainer where I saw the  stage and film productions.


Colin Clark was born in 1932, the son of the Art Historian and expert Sir Kenneth Clark and the younger brother of the notorious Conservative Politician Alan Clark. After Eton he went to Christ Church Oxford, the established College of Public schools and the Aristocracy after which he served as a pilot officer in the RAF where he flew in Malaya and The Middle East.


After the film he continued to work as assistant to Oliver on the Entertainer, Titus Andronicus and other theatrical production. He worked for Grenada Television before moving to the United States to set up a Public service Educational television station where he remained for five years returning to the UK to ATV in 1965 working on documentary films with Angus Wilson, Bernard Levin and his father with the and produced for the BBC Civilization. He then became an independent film producer whose work included the Alistair Cooke interview with Prince Charles. He did not write the books until retirement in 1987. He died in December 2002 aged 70. He had no reason to fabricate the story of his experience with Marilyn especially as he kept a journal.

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