Miller’s Muse: Marilyn Monroe’s Appearances in Arthur Miller’s Writings

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After the Fall American playwright Arthur Miller, author of Death of a Salesman and The Crucible, first met Marilyn Monroe in 1950 and they were married six years later. The spectral Marilyn fleetingly inhabits Arthur Miller’s monumental autobiographical text Timebends. At the Marilyn Symposium, Dr Sofia Ahlberg will analyse the poetic means by which Miller offers a highly unconventional rendition of his life and the role played by Marilyn.

Miller’s bending of time, he argues, is more truthful than a chronological account of his life that outlines the influence of life over art. So, anyone who hopes to get an unambiguous take on Marilyn via Miller is bound to be disappointed. In the place of prosaic facts, however, Miller gives his reader a highly stylised account of Monroe. This “Miller Connection” reminds us that celebrity is always a chimerical commodity.

Performers will read excerpts of Timebends where Marilyn appears, as well as her dramatic surrogate in some of Miller’s dramatic work such as the controversial After the Fall (1964).

 

Download After the Fall here

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A Rumbling of Things Unknown

Jaclyn Rose on Marilyn Monroe.

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Like any creative human being, I would like a bit more control.

Actress must have no mouth.

She was luminous – on that much everyone seems to agree. Hers is not the flawless matt beauty of Dietrich or Garbo. She is, as one might say, more curvy – I am of course referring to her face, on which, unlike Dietrich, Garbo or indeed Elizabeth Taylor (whom she saw as a rival), there isn’t a single straight line. There is no flattening wash over this face. Even Laurence Olivier, who mostly couldn’t stand her, had to concede that every time she appears in The Prince and the Showgirl, she lights up the scene (the cinematographer Jack Cardiff said that she glowed). That is just one of the things about her that makes her inimitable – which is why the recent My Week with Marilyncould not but fail somewhere as a film. But the question of what – in the aura that surrounds her – she was lighting up or revealing, other than herself, is rarely asked. Luminousness can be a cover – in Hollywood, its own most perfect screen. Monroe’s beauty is dazzling, blinding (no other actress is defined in quite these terms). Of what, then, is she the decoy? What does she allow us to see and not to see? Monroe herself knew the difference between seeing and looking. ‘Men do not see me,’ she said, ‘they just lay their eyes on me.’

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Reflection Piece

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Exhibiting Culture 1 & 2 (Ink Remix and Marilyn) were easily the most worthwhile subjects I have completed in my course (along with LAI’s Summer at the NGV which comes a close second place).

Exhibiting Culture is well thought out and well designed.  I feel that I got a variety of different perspectives (from experts in their fields) on the same thing which changed the way I thought about the object of focus (Ink Remix/Marilyn exhibitions). Because of this I feel that I learned a whole lot more than I would have if I’d chosen an elective from within my faculty.

The only criticism I have is regarding time, its very intensive.  I hope that in future more time can be dedicated to these subjects so students are not so rushed (it is a lot to take in, in a short amount of time and fatigue plays a role). Also as an art student, a lecture on the process of curating the Marilyn show would have been valuable.  But a job well done nevertheless.

Your subject was a breath of fresh air which managed to not only impress me, but also engage me; and I feel I am a better artist having participated in it.

The subject was valuable, informative, entertaining and engaging; and I hope LTU continues to support it.

 

Written by Tashara Roberts
20 April, 2016.

Was Marilyn Gay?

 

Marilyn Monroe, considered by many as the world’s female sex symbol may not have been the man-eating femme fatale, rather the world’s most gorgeous lipstick lesbian.

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The internet is full of Marilyn Monroe conspiracy theories, many of which are written with the assumption that she was in fact gay. Below is a list of articles surrounding this topic, let us know what you think!

How Marilyn Monroe struggled with being lesbian by Gay Star News

Marilyn Monroe A Lesbian? Hollywood Icon Had Affairs With Women, New Book Alleges by Huffington Post

The ultimate sex symbol for men. But did Marilyn Monroe only love women? Fifty years after her death, an author who met the star questions her sexual identity by Daily Mail

Boys Will Be Girls

The making of Billy Wilder’s “Some Like It Hot.”

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One morning in the summer of 1950, Billy Wilder was sitting alone, eating breakfast and reading the Hollywood Reporter. His wife, Audrey, came into the room and asked:

“Do you know what day this is, dear?”

“June 30th.”

“It’s our anniversary.”

“Please,” Wilder said, “not while I’m eating.”

And there you have him. Like most Wilder anecdotes, this tale has been told many times, and we have gone beyond the point of being able to ascertain whether it might actually be true. I guess you could ask the man himself, who is still alive at the age of ninety-five, but that would be no help; when it comes to spinning webs of Wilder mythology, he is by far the worst and most enjoyable offender. (Who else, reliving his career as a cub reporter in Vienna, would claim to have interviewed Richard Strauss, Arthur Schnitzler, and Sigmund Freud on a single day?) Still, if the facts don’t fit the legend, print the legend and to hell with it; what matters about the breakfast story is that it sounds right—the wisecrack zipping across the room and drowning the crunch of toast.

And so the rumors accrue, hardening the image of Wilder the cynic, Wilder the man-hater and woman-scorner. Who else would bother to assert that his bad back, which has plagued him throughout his career, was brought on by an urge to make love in Viennese doorways, standing up? More to the point, who else would say so in front of his wife? Wilder was one of those steely souls, forged in the Hollywood of the thirties and forties, who were even tougher than the actors they were slated to direct. In 1960, the year of “The Apartment,” he looked back on the duties of his chosen profession: “A director must be a policeman, a midwife, a psychoanalyst, a sycophant, and a bastard.” It’s not affection that Wilder minds, I would imagine, but the fuss that is made of it—the anniversaries, the flowers, the song and dance. “Did you hear what I said, Miss Kubelik? I absolutely adore you,” Jack Lemmon says, soft as a puppy, in the closing moments of “The Apartment.” But Shirley MacLaine is having none of it: “Shut up and deal,” she replies, addressing herself to the more pressing matter of gin rummy. She adores the guy, of course, and she has just run uptown to tell him so, but, still, there are limits. You have to keep the puppy on a leash.

There is only one catch in the Wilder world—not even a catch, perhaps, but an irony that is strong enough to crack his cool. People love his movies. Needless to say, Wilder himself had an explanation for this, as he did for everything else. “You know how it is,” he told reporters in London in 1961. “You hate your dentist while he’s pulling your teeth out, but the next week you’re playing golf with him.” Over and over, Wilder shows us mankind behaving badly, or using one another as props and pawns, or racing into follies from which there is no escape, and still, like sheep to the shearer, we come back for more. “Double Indemnity,” “The Seven Year Itch,” “Sunset Boulevard,” “The Apartment”: these are part of the basic lexicon of moviegoing. One picture, in particular, has become an icon. Last year, the American Film Institute invited its members to vote on the hundred best comedies ever made. The top spot went to Billy Wilder’s “Some Like It Hot” (1959).

Everyone knows that these hundred-best lists are a bore. Not a fix, exactly, although the film crowd, like all social groups who are presented with a questionnaire, tends to repeat the conventional wisdom without troubling to think it through. Still, it would take a brave critic to dispute the status of “Some Like It Hot,” just as it would take a historian of the highest subtlety and resourcefulness to explain, before a tribunal of his peers, why the most entertaining cultural spectacle of the last hundred years has been, by common consent, a pair of full-grown American males wearing falsies.

Falsehood, it must be said, is the fuel of this famous movie. It is rabid with deception, and all attempts to summarize the plot tend to skip one of the changes of costume, or of heart; not until I saw the film again recently, perhaps for the tenth time, did I notice that Jack Lemmon turns briefly into a bellhop. The roughest of outlines would go as follows: A pair of small-time jazz musicians—Joe, a tenor-sax player (Tony Curtis), and Jerry, a bassist (Lemmon)—are accidental witnesses to the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Pursued by a big-time gangster (George Raft) and his hoods, they dress as women and join an allgirl band on a train to Florida. There Joe, who has become Josephine, makes one more switch, pretending to be an oil baron in order to woo the band’s singer, Sugar Cane (Marilyn Monroe), née Kowalczyk. And Jerry, who has become Daphne, draws the attention of the insatiable Osgood (Joe E. Brown), a bona-fide millionaire with a mouth like a mailbox. It all ends well, with both couples heading for a moonlit yacht.

What more is there to say? Many filmgoers can recite lines from this picture more fluently than they can tell a story from their own past. The closing zinger—Daphne yanking off her wig and declaring herself to be a man, and Osgood replying, “Nobody’s perfect,” his beatific randiness intact—is the kind of thing that compilers of movie quotations slap on the covers of their books. Meanwhile, the traditional Wilder mischief has calcified into received opinion; when he said that Marilyn Monroe had breasts like granite and a brain like Swiss cheese, he must have realized that the line—one part idolatry to three parts slur—was here to stay, and it is true that Monroe’s bosom, thrust in and out of the spotlight as she sings “I Wanna Be Loved by You” and “I’m Through with Love,” has become as proud a feature of the American landscape as Mt. Rushmore. In fact, the whole film is a national treasure; you can look at it, but you can’t touch.

Click here to read the full article on The New Yorker