Sunday, August 5, 2012

On the Anniversary of Ms. Monroe's Death

                            Monkey Business (Howard Hawks, 1952)

It's rather fitting that in the last week I've seen a couple Marilyn Monroe movies, since today is the anniversary of Ms. Monroe's death. Unfortunately, there have been quite a few negative comments about Ms. Monroe today. What some don't realize, particularly those that don't actually watch her movies and focus solely on the gossip about her personal life, is Ms. Monroe was quite bright.This argument is best made by the great film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum here.

Monroe was able to imbue characters like Lorelei Lee with great complexity. Most would have played her as just a shallow, brainless bombshell, but Monroe turns her into "a parodic expose of capitalist duplicity". Her suitors and, by implication, the audience are portrayed as grotesque. As Mr. Rosenbaum puts it, "The difficulty some people have discerning Monroe’s intelligence as an actress seems rooted in the ideology of a repressive era, when superfeminine women weren’t supposed to be smart. They often fail to see past the sexist cliches she used as armor, satirically and otherwise, fail to notice that she was also positing a utopian view of sex, one that was relatively guilt free and blissfully pleasure oriented — something entirely new for that period."

Thomas Prieto

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