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Marilyn Monroe: The Final Days (2001)

Caproni

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Title: Marilyn Monroe: The Final Days (2001)

Genre: Comedy, Documentary

Director: Patty Ivins

Release: 2001-06-01

Runtime: 117

Plot: Marilyn Monroe's final project, "Something's Got to Give", has become one of the most talked about unfinished films in history. The story of the film and Marilyn's last days were seemingly lost… until now. Through interviews, never-before-seen footage and an edited reconstruction of "Something's Got to Give", Marilyn Monroe: The Final Days provides a definitive and fascinating look at the last act in the life of the world's most famous and tragic superstar.


Marilyn Monroe, as many here are well aware, has long been a symbol of old Hollywood. She had the glamour, looks, talent, and tragic life and death that cements her as a the embodiment of the Golden Age of Hollywood.

She was recruited to do Something's Got to Give in early 1962, as means to help 20th Century-Fox recoup its invest in the costly production of Cleopatra. It was a modern-day remake of My Favorite Wife, a 1940 screwball comedy starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. Marilyn was to play a woman whose spent five years stranded on a tropical island, only to come back to find herself legally declared dead and her husband newly remarried.

It all hit the fan, however. Monroe's chronic health and personal issues, coupled with her frequent absences and difficulty to cooperate on-set led to the film being shelved in June 1962, just shortly after her thirty-sixth birthday. All was repaired within the following weeks, though, and it was revealed Monroe was to return to the set and finish filming.

It never happened. She died on August 5, 1962, age thirty-six.

Marilyn Monroe: The Final Days, the 2001 AMC documentary, focuses on Monroe's final months, detailing her personal and professional life leading up to her abrupt death. It's one of my favorite documentaries. I just recently re-watched it.

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Caproni

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Marilyn Monroe was officially fired from Something's Got to Give on June 8, 1962, just seven days after her birthday.

The news of her firing swept Hollywood quickly, as Fox executives threatened her with the "your career in this town is finished" routine. Naturally, Monroe was worried, and even slipped into a deeper depression, fearing their predictions would be true. She quickly gave very frank interviews with several magazines, such as Life, Vogue, and Cosmopolitan. She spoke openly on her ideas on fame, her mistreatment by Fox, and her desire to press forward nonetheless.

After Monroe's dismissal, Fox scrambled to replace her quickly and to salvage Something's Got to Give for as cheaply as possible. The studio offered her role to Kim Novak and Shirley MacLaine, but for reasons I cannot find, both of the women readily declined. Within a couple of weeks, it was released that actress Lee Remick was fitted for Monroe's wardrobe and had started studying the script with director George Cukor. Co-star Dean Martin, however, was not on board with Remick's casting. He had been given co-star approval in his contract, and he agreed to do the film only on the assuring Monroe would be his leading lady. He famously told studio executives, "No Marilyn, no picture."

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Above is one of Monroe's photos taken during her exclusive interview with Vogue magazine in 1962. I've never seen this photo before Googling this session today, but it makes me wonder what Monroe what have done, at least visually, with the role of Holly Golightly in the film version of Breakfast at Tiffany's. Novelist Truman Capote's inspiration for the character was Monroe herself, and he made it well-known that he wanted her for the film adaptation. Paramount Pictures executives, however, felt Monroe would complicate the production, so they hired Audrey Hepburn, whom Capote openly disliked.
 

Matt Hough

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I certainly would love to have heard Marilyn's rendition of "Moon River" on that fire escape. But Hollywood is a small town, and word of Marilyn's on-set problems on Let's Make Love and The Misfits would have doomed her chances of ever being signed, no matter how great she might have been in the part. Many people just didn't want to put up with the headaches involved in working with her.
 

Caproni

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I certainly would love to have heard Marilyn's rendition of "Moon River" on that fire escape. But Hollywood is a small town, and word of Marilyn's on-set problems on Let's Make Love and The Misfits would have doomed her chances of ever being signed, no matter how great she might have been in the part. Many people just didn't want to put up with the headaches involved in working with her.
You're absolutely right. Director George Cukor had a very difficult time working with her on Let's Make Love in 1960, and he wasn't enthusiastic at all about working with her again Something's Got to Give. He tried, on multiple occasions, to have her replaced, even long before Fox finally gave in and canned her. Only to rehire her because they found out they needed her regardless the strain.

A lot of people found her difficult to work with. Billy Wilder, who directed her in The Seven Year Itch and Some Like It Hot, tired of her antics during the filming of the latter, but agreed the outcome was worth it because her popularity and charisma was unparalleled.
 

Caproni

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The news of her firing swept Hollywood quickly, as Fox executives threatened her with the "your profession in this city is finished" routine. Naturally, Monroe was once worried, and even slipped into a deeper depression, fearing their predictions would be true. She shortly gave very frank interviews with several magazines, such as Life, Vogue, and Cosmopolitan. She spoke brazenly on her thoughts on fame, her mistreatment by Fox, and her desire to press ahead nonetheless.
Ummmm... Seems kinda similar to my earlier post? :rolling-smiley:
 
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Caproni

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I certainly would love to have heard Marilyn's rendition of "Moon River" on that fire escape. But Hollywood is a small town, and word of Marilyn's on-set problems on Let's Make Love and The Misfits would have doomed her chances of ever being signed, no matter how great she might have been in the part. Many people just didn't want to put up with the headaches involved in working with her.
I've heard two versions of the story.

One, Capote wanted her and plugged her, but Paramount worried that Monroe's reputation as troublesome during production would complicate the film. The complication of her latest movies ─ Some Like It Hot, Let's Make Love, and The Misfits ─ made the studio weary of hiring her. They wanted to make as much money as they could off Breakfast at Tiffany's, so they choose the less difficult Audrey Hepburn instead to fill the bill.

Second, I've heard that Marilyn herself turned the offer down. She was initially intrigued because the popularity of the book, but her acting mentor, Lee Strasberg, urged her that playing a call girl wouldn't do good for her image. She apparently turned it down on that basis, and therefore rendered Paramount to reach out to Hepburn as a popular alternative.

In either case, Monroe didn't get the job.
 

Caproni

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Some Like It Hot emerged as Monroe's biggest success, but it was also one of the most difficult to film.

She returned to Hollywood in August 1958 to film the movie, mostly against her will. Although she considered the role of Sugar Kane to be typical of the dumb blonde stereotype she wished to rid herself of, she was eager to work with director Billy Wilder again, who had directed her several years earlier in The Seven Year Itch. Despite the difficulties on the former back in 1954─55, Wilder was also eager to work with Monroe again. He was well aware of her personal and professional issues, but felt that his prior experience with her had more than prepared him to do Some Like It Hot.

But, by 1958, Monroe's issues had worsened. Years of alcohol and prescription drug dependency had fractured her already fragile emotional state, and Wilder was in for a bumpy ride. Marilyn was habitually late and frequently absent. Unfamiliar with the script, she had to have her dialogue written on cue cards and placed around the set. Naturally, her costars found her hard to work with. Tony Curtis, especially, grew impatient, and apparently that kissing Monroe was "like kissing Hitler". Afterward, she and Curtis reportedly had tension, although she and Jack Lemmon developed a good working relationship.

Also an issue was Monroe's fluctuating weight and chronic fatigue. Her dependence on her acting coach, Paula Strasberg, annoyed the cast and crew, as she routinely took Strasberg's direction over Wilder's. Even still, Wilder knew that despite the complications the movie would come off well because of Monroe's undeniable on-screen charisma and popularity.

Some Like It Hot was a critical and financial hit. It quickly recouped its investment, and it widely considered a landmark comedy.

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Movie information in first post provided by The Movie Database

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