Marilyn Monroe showcase sweeps Miami Beach

Juan Barquin/Staff Writer

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Whether it’s in NBC’s “Smash” or last year’s Oscar nominated film “My Week With Marilyn,” there’s been a lot of love for Marilyn Monroe lately. With all these new spins on her life being presented, it’s about time someone highlights the classics — in comes the Miami Beach Cinematheque in collaboration with TASCHEN, Harold Golen Gallery and the World Erotic Art Museum, doing just that.In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s life, the cinema will be showing “Niagara,” “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” “How to Marry A Millionaire,” “The Seven Year Itch,” and “Some Like It Hot,” between August and September. While you may have missed one of her most seductive roles in the technicolor noir classic “Niagara” last week, you can still catch the other four on the big screen.

Marilyn’s first big role after her breakthrough in “Niagara” is alongside Jane Russell in Howard Hawks’ musical comedy, “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” which follows two gold-digging dames working their way to Paris on a transatlantic cruise. The duo balance sex appeal and sarcasm delightfully, and while the film’s narrative hasn’t dated particularly well it’s instead known for its dazzling musical numbers.

The opening duet, “Two Little Girls from Little Rock,” features the two dressed in sparkling red as they strut their stuff on stage. Russell’s “Ain’t There Anyone Here for Love” could be considered one of the campiest musical numbers ever, singing as she goes around touching a glorious parade of manflesh. Monroe’s performance of “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” is perhaps the most iconic scene and has been copied by dozens of entertainers over the years.

The same year brought Jean Negulesco’s “How to Marry a Millionaire,” the first movie filmed in CinemaScope. Starring three of Hollywood’s well-known ladies – Lauren Bacall, Betty Grable and Marilyn Monroe – this romantic comedy is about three women who plan on using all their talents to marry millionaires.

Monroe and Grable deliver plenty of laughs, but the real star of this one is Bacall, who has never been quite this much fun, even mentioning her real-life husband Bogart in one of the best lines of the film. A bright script with plenty of witty dialogue and Negulesco’s direction, despite the flawed early use of CinemaScope, makes this a worthwhile watch for anyone interested in film. Many have dismissed it as little more than another fluff piece, but Bacall and Powell’s delightfully knowing exchanges make this a treat.

Of all the directors to work with Monroe, none was quite as successful at bringing out her talent as Billy Wilder. “The Seven Year Itch” is a tale of a married man whose fidelity is put to the test when his wife leaves for summer. The script, adapted from a stage play, suffers from a few lengthy inner monologues that feel out of place. The way it pushed the boundaries of the production code in the fifties is truly amusing, but Tom Ewell’s character and theatrical personality do more harm than good for this off-beat sex comedy.

Marilyn is what really drives “The Seven Year Itch” with a naive performance that could easily be considered her most sexually suggestive role. Yet another of Monroe’s famous scenes is featured here, in which her white skirt is blown up by the air. Wilder’s first film with her might not have dated very well, but their second collaboration, “Some Like It Hot,” is undeniably the best of the bunch.

The story is comical enough, involving two musicians who witness a massacre and must pose as women in an all-girl band to escape safely to Florida, and it’s safe to say that few comedies have aged quite as well as this one. Adding to Wilder and I.A.L Diamond’s impressive writing, much of the film’s success can be attributed to how beautifully the cast worked together.

Jack Lemmon’s performance as Daphne is sure to leave anyone in stitches with his one-liners and physical comedy. The great rapport between him and Joe E. Brown not only provides a humorous bunch of scenes, but an interesting look at the fluidity of sexuality. Alongside them, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe provide a lovely little romance on the side, and Curtis’ impression of Cary Grant is endlessly amusing.

Few will get a chance to watch all of Marilyn’s films in theaters these upcoming months, but if you have to choose one, “Some Like It Hot” is the best choice. Not only can those with Netflix Instant find “The Seven Year Itch” available, but Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will be showing the rest – excluding Wilder’s masterful comedy – throughout September.

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