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Marilyn Monroe: The Final Days

Marilyn Monroe: The Diamond Collection

  • Bus Stop
  • Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
  • How to Marry a Millionaire
  • Marilyn Monroe: The Final Days
  • The Seven Year Itch
  • There's No Business Like Show Business
  • While Marilyn Monroe will always be among the greatest of Hollywood legends, much of her life was wrapped in contradictions. The most adored movie celebrity of her era, in her private life she often was mysterious and withdrawn. A sex symbol for the breast-obsessed '50s, she never found complete happiness with men and was divorced three times. A high-paid, high-powered figure in the Hollywood film industry who had studio chiefs beating a path to her door, many directors didn't want to work with her due to her notorious lack of punctuality and inability to memorize dialogue (Billy Wilder, who directed her in two films, The Seven Year Itch and Some Like It Hot, suggested he should have received a Purple Heart for his efforts). And when she died at the untimely age of 36 from an overdose of sleeping pills, the debate started almost immediately if it was an accident or a suicide (or, for the conspiracy theorists, if she was bumped off). Marilyn Monroe: The Final Days looks at the last few months of Monroe's life before her death in August of 1962, and in particular the production of her final, unfinished film, Something's Got to Give. Directed by George Cukor and co-starring Dean Martin and Cyd Charisse, Give was intended to be a remake of 1940's My Favorite Wife, a tale of a widower who discovers, five years after his wife's death and now remarried, that she is in fact alive and well. Rushed into production by Fox, who were hemorrhaging cash on the epic Cleopatra, Something's Got to Give was to be their ace in the hole, with the ever-popular Monroe on the marquee. But Marilyn's questionable work habits by this point had become nearly intolerable, with numerous absences and poor concentration when she was on the set — it got so bad that Fox took the unthinkable step of firing their biggest star, after which production was completely halted and all footage was shelved indefinitely. Along with the documentary feature, the main attraction of Marilyn Monroe: The Final Days (which is only available on DVD in Fox's Marilyn Monroe: The Diamond Collection box-set) is a new reconstruction of Something's Got to Give, edited from existing footage and running 37 minutes. While some of it is unremarkable, Monroe shows that — despite her distractions — she never lost her screen presence, with a few fun comic bits opposite Martin. Slimmed down considerably from her turn in Some Like It Hot, she also has a fresh, modern look with a decidedly '60s coif that suggests she would have remained enormously sexy for many years hence. But the most iconic moment of the abridged Something's Got to Give is a restored sequence that would have been Marilyn's most famous, had it arrived on the screen in this cut — a nighttime skinny-dipping scene in the backyard pool, which she agreed to do entirely sans clothing (a "nude" swimsuit was offered; she declined). It was the first nude scene in an American film by a major star, and while it's carefully put together to avoid showing too much flesh, this version never would have cleared the Production Code, and especially a brief shot of Marilyn's bare backside. And through it all we get the classic Monroe mystique: She's just a girl having a swim, flashing a hint of raw sexuality, but simultaneously upstaging it with her giggling, all-American innocence. It's enough to make you forget all about that billowing white dress above the Manhattan subway line. Fox's DVD of Marilyn Monroe: The Final Days features the documentary in full-frame (1.33:1) and the feature Something's Got to Give in widescreen (2.35:1), with audio in Dolby 2.0 stereo. Also includes a brief Movietone newsreel and trailer for Cleopatra. Keep-case.
    —JJB



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