Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Breaking Down "Secret Life" Part 7/10

Thanks for tuning back in to my incredibly long (but informative!) breakdown of The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe the movie. This week we focus on the end of Marilyn and Joe’s marriage and the beginning of her and Arthur’s. Huge thank you to April for clarifying a few elements with Gladys and Natasha for me on this one. Before continuing, please check out the previous parts of my review so that you’re all caught up! Trigger warnings: mental illness, physical abuse, miscarriage.

Links are here:

Let’s continue!

(1)THE MOVIE: The film now cuts to a scene with Marilyn again visiting her mother at Rockhaven. They are strolling the sanitarium grounds and having a conversation about how Joe wants Marilyn to quit acting. Gladys soon becomes agitated and demands that Marilyn stop coming to visit her because she only talks about herself. She walks off saying “I don’t know how I had such a selfish child.”

(1)REAL LIFE: As we have covered in previous posts, Marilyn never visited her mother not only at Rockhaven, but at any other institution she was housed in. Marilyn’s relationship with her mother was complicated, and truthfully, they didn’t have much of a relationship at all in Marilyn’s adult life. Marilyn loved her mother and never stopped providing for her. Every month she paid for wherever Gladys was staying. She aided her financially from a distance. This way, Gladys’s privacy was protected and she was out of the public eye. By 1951, Marilyn had hired financial advisor Inez Melson to be in charge of her mother’s care, becoming Gladys’s legal guardian in 1952. The last time we can confirm that Marilyn physically saw her mother was in the summer of 1946 when the two rented out the lower half of Aunt Ana’s apartment on Nebraska Avenue. However, Gladys did return to Los Angeles for a short time in 1948 to live with Ana, and it is likely Marilyn visited her then as well. Gladys did write to Marilyn on several occasions, and due to her illness, her tone would change frequently, and she would accuse Marilyn of hating her, which was obviously not true. In a letter from April 1952, while Gladys was staying at Norwalk, she wrote to her famous daughter: “Dear Marilyn, please, my dear daughter, I wish I had some news from you. I only have worries here and I’d like to leave as soon as possible. I wish I have my child’s love instead of her hate. Tenderly, your mother.”
Marilyn and Gladys, 1926

From "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe"

(2)THE MOVIE: Things seem well in their marriage when Joe offers to fly to New York with Marilyn and be there while she is filming The Seven Year Itch. But of course, the trip takes a horrible turn when Joe becomes furious at seeing his wife display her underwear to a crowd of a thousand people during the famous skirt-blowing scene. They return to their hotel that night where Joe beats her up, and the marriage is ended immediately come morning.

(2)REAL LIFE: In the previous post, we discussed in detail the nightmare that came as a result of the skirt-blowing scene, so I’m going to skip it here and move on. Joe and Marilyn went to New York separately, Joe arriving a few days later. The Seven Year Itch scene was filmed in the early morning hours of September 15, 1954. Marilyn was back in Los Angeles by October, but Joe had previously gone back to New York on the 27th to work as a commentator for the World Series. Their marriage, for the most part, ended right after the early morning Itch scene. On October 2, after Joe had returned to Los Angeles, Marilyn was out at breakfast with close friend Sidney Skolsky and informed Joe that she was going to contact her attorney, Jerry Geisler, and file for divorce. On the 5th, the estranged couple signed divorce decrees, and on the 6th she publicly announced their separation.
From "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe"

New York, 1954

(3)THE MOVIE: The setting is now back at Marilyn’s home during her session with Dr. DeShields. They have been discussing the end of her marriage with Joe. Kelli as Marilyn makes the comment “I never stopped sleeping with him, you know.”

(3)REAL LIFE: Marilyn and Joe had a complicated relationship. They both truly loved each other at one point, and after her divorce from Arthur Miller, they grew closer as friends. They always cared about each other, and Marilyn wasn’t one to speak ill of her ex-husbands. They may have endured a messy end to their marriage, but they did continue to meet up a few times the following year. In 1955, they met up in Boston while Marilyn was there with Milton Greene for business for Marilyn Monroe Productions. Joe even helped her move into the Gladstone Hotel in New York, and she had dinner with him and his family that same month in January. By June, he attended the premiere of The Seven Year Itch with her, however, they had an argument that night and Marilyn was driven home by her photographer Sam Shaw. This is the last time we can confirm they saw each other before her marriage to Arthur Miller, during which Joe kept his distance, only re-appearing as a friend after the Millers’ divorce in 1961.

From "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe"

(4)THE MOVIE: Marilyn is now married to Arthur Miller, played by Stephen Bogaert, who is in the middle of writing an important script. He enters the room, asking Marilyn to give him her opinion of it. As she is about to do so, the telephone rings, and Marilyn answers to Natasha. After Marilyn explains that she will call back later and hangs up, Arthur says, “She never gives you a moment’s peace.” He then tells Marilyn that she doesn’t need Natasha, and that Marilyn has outgrown her. In the following scene, Natasha receives a letter from her student informing her that she has been let go.

(4)REAL LIFE: The last film in which Natasha worked with Marilyn as her teacher was The Seven Year Itch. After that, she was replaced by Paula Strasberg, wife of the famous acting teacher Lee Strasberg, who she had first met in 1954. Marilyn had returned to Hollywood in February of 1956, shortly before her marriage to Arthur, to film Bus Stop. She did not notify Natasha of her replacement. Fox continued to keep Natasha as an employee, while Natasha relentlessly and desperately tried to get into contact with Marilyn, who was failing to respond. She was soon released of her services by both Marilyn and Fox; Marilyn also stopped going to private lessons with her.

Marilyn and Natasha on the set of "the Seven Year Itch," 1954
From "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe"

(5)THE MOVIE: Arthur continues work on his script and he and Marilyn get into an argument after Marilyn reads aloud her praise from Variety. Arthur seems entirely uninterested, and Marilyn, offended, leaves the room. She soon receives a call from the hospital, who has just confirmed her hopes: she is pregnant. Marilyn and Arthur are overjoyed.

(5)REAL LIFE: This part of the movie is most likely meant to take place in 1957, when Marilyn learned she was pregnant for the first time. Unfortunately, this pregnancy and the one that occurred in 1958 both ended tragically. The 1957 pregnancy became ectopic; she had to be rushed to a hospital, and the 1958 one ended in miscarriage. We’ll discuss them both more in detail in the next installment of this review, when it is further presented in the film.

From "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe"

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