Documentary about the moviestar's last months including her tumultuous love affairs, drug and alcohol dependency, depression and eventual firing from her final film, 20th Century Fox's "...
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"Marilyn Monroe Declassified" is a feature documentary by director Paul Davids about Marilyn Monroe's life and career and her untimely, mysterious death in 1962 at age 36. Perhaps the most ... See full summary »
Documentary about the moviestar's last months including her tumultuous love affairs, drug and alcohol dependency, depression and eventual firing from her final film, 20th Century Fox's "Something's Got To Give". Features several first time interviews with the people surrounding Monroe at the end of her life, behind the scenes footage and stills, and the assembled footage from her final film, co-starring Dean Martin and Cyd Charisse.Written by
"Marilyn Monroe: The Final Days." Sounds like something that should be on some tabloid TV show, one of those morbid sumps that blame everything on child abuse and are pregnant with lines like, "Little did she know, tragedy lay just around the corner." It's actually better than that. It's not just a roll in the hay with Schadenfreude. Instead it's an interesting, sometimes funny, and reasonably objective look at Marilyn Monroe's personality and illness, the character of those who surrounded her, and the dynamics of the movie business at Twentieth-Century Fox.
Monroe's childhood was exceptional in several ways -- bad ways -- a father who deserted the family and a mother who wound up in a psychiatric facility. Monroe herself had several miscarriages but always wanted to have children herself. It's probably by the seasonable interposition of a gracious Providence that she was unable to do so. There's a high genetic loading on schizophrenia.
What's surprising in looking at the photos from her youth is that she was not particularly attractive. She was rather plump, puffy, and ordinary in appearance. Even at the age of twenty, she was perfectly normal except for a mane of frizzly hair. Her later glamorized beauty is a monument to studio craftsmanship.
Much of the film deals with the problems she had making her last attempt at a movie, "Something's Got To Give," with Dean Martin and Cyd Charisse. Of course her unreliability was already legendary but the director, George Cukor, became worried as the shoot fell farther and farther behind, costing the studio a fortune with every day missed, money they couldn't afford to lose after the four-hour and three minute egg, "Cleopatra." She complained of cold, fevers, sinusitis, and was pounding barbiturates. Cukor shot around her, filmed all the scenes that didn't require her presence, but when Monroe took off -- still claiming illness -- to attend President John F. Kennedy's gala birthday party and performed before the crowd, the consensus was that she was plagues less by illness and more by self indulgence.
It didn't help that on the few days she was available, she constantly looked to her acting coach, Paula Strassberg, for approval, without which she would demand a retake. Cukor was edged out. And Strassberg was on a five-thousand-dollar a week salary from Monroe. Nobody liked Strassberg who, regardless of the source, comes across as an expensive parasite. Her psychiatrist also claimed he could get Monroe to do whatever he wanted. We aren't informed what he was paid.
After a month of shooting, the film was one million dollars over budget. Monroe had worked only thirteen out of thirty production days, and she was officially fired, her career finished at the age of thirty-six.
There were photoshoots and an attempt to kick start "Something's Got To Give" but it didn't help her. She died of an overdose of seconal and other substances.
Most of the talking heads are reasonable in their comments. Of course, nobody says, "I wish I'd done something differently." Her personal doc, with fashionably swept back gray hair, disclaims all responsibility. And we don't have to listen to much pop psychology, although there are the usual references to "the lost little girl inside her." The last twenty minutes or so present the updated and refurbished existing footage of the original shoot. The clips are ordered along the lines of the plot and suggest that if the movie had been finished it wouldn't have been bad, although it lacks the élan of the original, "My Favorite Wife."
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