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Catherine Savard
Catherine Savard

Life on a Bungee Cord

Gentlemen%20prefer%20blonds_Marilyn%20diamonds%2070%20200X300.jpgThe luminous Marilyn Monroe does some late night entertaining on TVO with a sparkle that comes from more than just diamonds.

“They’ll pay you thousands of dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul.” – Marilyn Monroe

It was wonderful as a little “light after dinner entertainment”. The luminous Marilyn Monroe starred in both films on Saturday Night at the Movies on TVOntario. Laudible performances were given by her co-stars were Tom Ewell in “The Seven Year Itch” and Jane Russell in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”. But let there be no doubt about it: it was Marilyn who was and remains the main attraction in these films.

The Seven Year Itch subway small.jpgYou know, I tried that thing that Marilyn recommended in “The Seven Year Itch”; undies in the ice box. It was yet another blazing hot day. After my shower, I was down in the basement rummaging around trying to find a frozen chicken for supper in the freezer. I didn’t really notice that my undies had fallen into the chest freezer as I groped around for that elusive frozen bird. It was an unusual, somewhat refreshing sensation to put the underwear on after I finally discovered my mistake. Somehow though, when Marilyn does it, she comes off as an irresistibly sexy simpleton. When I do it, I just end up being a plain old klutz. Sigh.

Marilyn sure showed us a good time on Saturday night with these two films. There is much to recommend and more to enjoy in both of these little numbers. So much has been written about these two famous films and their even more famous “star”.

“The Seven Year Itch” still makes people itch in a place where they love to scratch. It is just so delicious to watch the interplay between the fanciful Mr. Richard Sherman and the girl upstairs. Tom Ewell as a kind of 1950’s “everyman” fantasizes about everything with hilarious results. He even fantasizes about his fantasies. At one point the lively wit of Richard Sherman retorts to “What blonde in the kitchen?” with “Wouldn’t you like to know. Maybe it’s Marilyn Monroe!” As the ultimate sex symbol of her day, who could believe that a man like Richard Sherman would end up with Marilyn Monroe hiding in his kitchen? What a laughable idea!

The Seven Year Itche marquis listening small009_220-031_b.jpgEverybody does laugh at such a preposterous state of affairs including Helen, the shadowy figure Sherman ’s down-to-earth wife who has been packed off to the country for summer holidays. Nobody takes themselves too seriously and nobody takes the subject matter too seriously. It is a sex farce, but a toned down one. Marilyn maintains a kind of dim witted innocence throughout, Ewell never really makes much progress outside of his vivid imaginings, and, in the end, no permanent harm is done (except perhaps for a broken tomato plant.) Wouldn’t it be nice if life were really like that?!! It would sort of be like relationships with a bungee cord attached; all of the thrills, none of the spills!

In the next film, Marilyn plays Miss Lorelei Lee, a nightclub singer with a rather limited imagination. It appears that Lorelei’s imaginative efforts are confined to working out how many diamonds she can stuff onto a coveted tiara. Her “loyalest” best friend, Jane Russell in the role of the worldly-wise Dorothy Shaw, tries in vain to reform Lorelei from her fortune seeking ways with men. Lorelei is a hardened case. She has no reason to reform.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes-marquis.jpgShe herself is not hardened, mean-spirited or cheapened by her all too obvious gold digging. Lorelei is something of a silly fish out of water as is shown in the comic scene where she is caught halfway out the porthole. Lorelei is not doing anything terribly reprehensible when she climbs out the window. It just looks bad. She then makes a bad scene worse by drawing Henry Spofford III into her literal cover-up and trying to carry on a normal conversation with Piggy (Sir Francis Beekman). It’s those big hips that get her in trouble. Lorelei, we are to believe, is just “made that way”. Can she help it if she has curves everywhere that drive men insane? Lorelei is just using her natural endowments to get ahead in the world, in much the same way as Sir Beekman has used nature’s gift of the diamond mine to become a wealthy and powerful man.

In an ending fit for musical-comedy and nowhere else, Marilyn and Jane waltz down the aisle in spectacular wedding gowns for a twin bill marriage ceremony. It is entirely fitting. And I suppose that all of the women are supposed to be examining the fabulous tight fitted wedding dresses common to that era. When you focus on the wardrobe as you have been doing for much of the rest of the film, (well, at least the women have been paying attention to the clothes; maybe the guys' attention has gone elsewhere!) you hardly notice how preposterous and strangely out of synch this whole wedding thing is at the end. It is such a ‘50s thing – and I don’t just mean the lavish costumes.

But then, we’re at the movies. It’s time to sit down, relax, and not worry too much about anything. Put some ice in a glass and pour yourself a big lemonade. It’s less hassle than the icy undies.

Gentlemen prefer blonds car big175282.jpg

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