Forever Marilyn: The diva, who died 60 years ago, interpreted the dreams of an entire era

Forever Marilyn: The diva, who died 60 years ago, interpreted the dreams of an entire era

by Paolo Mereghetti

Charming talented actress, judged with sarcasm prisoners of the image of “Goose Julie” of cinema

Perhaps those who argue that one can only remain silent in front of Marilyn, that every word runs the risk of being out of tune, of seeming too much, are right, because certain love affairs and certain passions can only be mitigated by confiding them in words.

How it feels to see her play the ukulele on screen in Some Like It Hot while she cools off the subway grate in When the Woman Is on Vacation, or in a sweater and black tights during her sings “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” in “Let’s Make Love”? And these are just the first of the many images that come to mind when you think back to the diva who died sixty years ago, on August 4, 1962, carrying with her the secret of a charm that shared not only her beauty could be explained, or with the films she has interpreted, or with a love life that has gotten dirty for too many.

If we still regret it many years later (at the Venice Film Festival, Ana de Armas will revisit it in Blonde), it means she really knew how to shape the dreams of not just her generation, but one whole era, the 1950s by Kennedy and Khrushchev, by Pope John and Castro, by those who were looking for the new and by those who wanted to forget the past. Even at the expense of too high a price.

Perhaps no actress has been vivisected and scrutinized as she has. And none wielded the biting sarcasm of those who felt justified in judging and condemning (let’s forget who took the liberty of saying that “directing Marilyn is like directing Lassie. It takes fourteen takes for her.” right barks”. Those who absolutely must show cynicism). Of course, like all and like all first steps, she was not immediately skilful: it is easy to make fun of “Blonde Orchid” (1948), her first leading role, in which she is a burlesque girl who is smothered and threatened by her mother do the owner of the place. But two years later, in “Eve against Eve”, he was able to leave his mark on George Sanders’ arm. Her training was long, she was forced to go through the characters (often stereotypical) that Hollywood created for those who thought more beautiful than good. But when it gets into the hands of an expert director, you immediately understand that you are dealing with a rose that just has to bloom. Like another two years later in The Magnificent Joke, where Howard Hawks (and screenwriters Ben Hetch, Charles Lederer, and IAL Diamond: three absolute geniuses) turn it into a “continuous-hour kissing shop,” unforgettable if it his shows “Acetate” (that is, his nylons) the clumsy Cary Grant. An actor, let’s not forget, who certainly wasn’t the newcomer and to whom Marilyn offered the beats like a great pro.

Back then, it was easy to poke fun at her artistic ambitions, her yearning for characters other than the “lucky geese” Hollywood foisted on her. But it would be enough to flip through the notebook used on Some Like It Hot ( Taschen published it) to understand the dedication the actress puts into her job and her desire to better herself to surpass yourself. That it might not always be picked up by those around her, but that she knew how to reach those who were watching her on screen.

Her only real flaw was that she had not created a character capable of silencing the vulgarity that prevailed (and not only then) in the world of cinema, like many of her peers, the more cunning and “more armored” than they knew. Marilyn didn’t sharkily hide her weaknesses, her insecurities from those who didn’t seem to have them. She confessed her desires and dreams with the simplicity and immediacy of a child, going far beyond the roles cinema ascribed to her. That’s why she is moved in “Gli dispati”, because the recently divorced woman, who seems to have to deal with the feeling of abandonment (and death) surrounding her again and again, has finally become a loud testament in the desperate declaration of love of those who don’t have one find a friend they can confide in. Just as it happened that night on August 4th when all the calls she had made went dead, leaving her dramatically alone.

July 31, 2022 (change July 31, 2022 | 11:48)