Marilyn Monroe has been on my mind of late, especially with the anniversary of her death approaching next month. So, yes I’m guilty as charged for presenting another Marilyn Monroe classic movie this week. Honestly, what can I say I have a soft spot for one of Hollywood’s most underrated actresses.
In 1955, Marilyn was determined to put behind her, the series of flighty comedies she starred in, despite the amazing commercial success of her films like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes(1953) and How to Marry a Millionaire(1953). Her ability to read comedy better than anyone, playing the world’s most famous dumb blonde, had become a little tiresome. With one swift stroke she severed her ties with 20th Century Fox and moved to New York and enrolled into Les Strasberg’s Actors Studio for a year to develop her skills as an actress. (Marilyn would later come to a new agreement with 20th Century Fox following her ugly split with them, that eventually saw her make many of her own decisions, including the formation of her own production company.)
Marilyn’s abilities as an actress took a while to mature as she tried desperately to sort out her own feelings and emotions. She was a young woman tormented by her past, stuck somewhere they say between adolescence and adulthood. With so much arguably at stake, Marilyn apparently set upon her acting classes with a dogmatic vengeance. Did the lessons help? Her detractors eagerly pointed out that she was wasting her time, but Marilyn must have done something right. She left the Actors Studio and validated her yearlong stay by producing one of her finest performance in the film Bus Stop (1956) that earned her a global globe nomination.
She played the role of café singer Cherie, who harboured dreams of a life as a Hollywood star. Unfortunately everything is turned on its head, when she meets a socially blundering idiot (Don Murray), in pursuit of an angelic wife, who whisks (kidnaps) her away on a bus trip back to Montana (his home town). The film plays out to its final conclusion, with Marilyn delivering a rare dramatic performance, which most critics agree is surprisingly brilliant. For the most part, I believe she moves between moments of humour and poignant pause with ease, making Bus Stop a must see Marilyn picture.