Monday, January 22, 2018

Marilyn & Miller; Billy Idol, and and Carole Bouquet

The Honeymooners:  Monroe and Miller in London, 1956.  Her face says it all. So does his.
Who Killed Marilyn — Certainly NOT Arthur Miller.  Or So He Insisted. Also — Billy Idol ... and Carole Bouquet. 
by Denis Ferrara

“SHE was destroyed by many things and some of those things are you. And some of those things are destroying you. Destroying you now. Now as you stand there weeping and gawking, glad that it is not you going into the earth, glad that it is this lovely girl who you at last killed.”

MM faces the press after her engagement to Miller is announced.
That is a portion of a previously unpublished letter by Arthur Miller, written in the immediate aftermath of Marilyn Monroe’s death.  He was “explaining” why he didn’t attend her funeral in 1962.   He was also — as usual — self-justifying, and blaming everybody else for Monroe wretched demise, neatly taking himself, her ex-husband of four years, out of the equation.

Miller wrote some powerfully accurate and even tender observations about Monroe.  And he was particularly tough and correct on some of the people who surrounded her and used her.  He himself was among the latter, although he was of course unwilling to see that. (Not that Monroe herself wasn’t a user — that’s life and that is certainly show biz!)

Monroe was a walking suicide from adolescence onward, and it is likely her end would have been unhappy no matter who she married, or whether or not she’d had children. (There were three miscarriages during the Miller years.) But the indisputable fact is that Monroe’s career and mental facilities deteriorated drastically within the four years of the Miller marriage. Coincidence?  I think not.

He saw her as an “angel.” She saw him as a “savior” and as a man who would truly respect her.  They were both bitterly disappointed.
Freckled, tan and make-up free. MM in 1955. Photograph by  Milton Greene.
He wrote a deeply condescending screenplay for her, “The Misfits,” and after her death, presented his view from the Marilyn bridge via the lurid, wildly one-sided “After The Fall.” (With perfect irony, Miller, whose career had fallen into a stalemate even before he wed MM, would have his last big hit with 1964’s “After the Fall.” He used his former wife’s corpse in an attempt to reestablish himself.)
Arthur Miller, Barbara Loden and Jason Robards Jr., on opennig night of  After the Fall, 1964. (Photo by Time Life Pictures/Pix Inc./Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
The truest way to appreciate Monroe now is to enjoy the best of her films — if you can find them.  Turner Classic Movies remains steadfastly averse to recognizing MM as a “real” star.  She is a non-presence on the network.

Currently, there is a splendid high quality new photo book out, “The Essential Marilyn Monroe By Milton H. Greene: 50 Sessions.” 
Milton and Monroe.
Greene was the famous fashion photographer who became Marilyn’s business partner, when she fled Hollywood in 1954 and formed her own production company. (A startling, strong-woman move for which she was never forgiven.)  She became his muse.  He adored her, never spoke ill of her, even after Miller stepped in and broke up the friendship. (And the company, which would produce only one film, 1957’s “The Prince and the Showgirl.”  That at least displays Monroe at her most delicious, assured and effervescent.)
Just a few of Milton's many Marilyns ...
“The Essential Marilyn”  — from ACC Art Books — is a triumphant celebration of Milton and Marilyn, two fragile, damaged souls who came together and collaborated brilliantly for three  years — Monroe’s best three years.
Click to order “The Essential Marilyn.”
“HEY little sister, what have you done?
Hey little sister, who's the only one?
Hey little sister, who's the Superman?
Hey little sister, who's the one you want?
Hey little sister, shotgun!
It's a nice day to start again
It's a nice day for a white wedding!”

So growled platinum blond, shirtless, sexy Billy Idol in the video to his “White Wedding” song in 1982.

In ’82 I was 29.  A little old, actually, to be as slavishly hypnotized as I was by MTV.  But I couldn’t get enough of it, and didn’t mind seeing the same video five, six, seven times a day — heavy rotation, they called it.  Aside from the entertainment value, paying attention to MTV helped my work, broadened my interests, and introduced me to the music and writhing of Madonna, who would become very important to this column in just a few years. (And we would become very important to her, if I may be so bold as to say that.)

Anyway, Idol was sex on a stick and, as often happens on rock ‘n roll, he had a rocky time of it.  But, he survived.  So well actually that he will tour heavily this spring in the U.S. and Europe.  I was hoping he’d play New York’s Beacon Theater, but so far, he’s sticking to hotspots like Biloxi, MS, Atlanta, GA, Napa Valley, CA., etc.  The European leg of the tour kicks off in Austria, on June 16th. 

Although I have no intention of ever getting on a plane again—I last flew in 2011, to Elizabeth Taylor’s memorial service — I wouldn’t mind being rendered unconscious and spirited off to Austria.  On the other hand, while Mr. Idol — age 62 and as blond as he was in his salad days — likely looks just great doing his stuff onstage, I have a deeply creepy visual of me, “dancing with myself” in the almost alter cocker audience. I might be better served at home with my MTV memories.
MAIL: Last week — I think it was last week; I am still a bit feverish and flu-ish — I wrote about binging on a Netflix series “La Mante” (The Mantis).  I was swept away by the gorgeous Carole Bouquet, who I couldn’t quite place.  Well, 35 emails — and videos! — later, I am well up on her career.  She is adored in France (and here too!) as the star of Luis Bunuel’s “That Obscure Object of Desire” (1977) and quite a few other French films.  Her role as a Bond girl in “For Your Eyes Only” is also often cited.  I am now busy catching up on my Bouquet.  Thanks to all who wrote in!
Carole Bouquet in “La Mante."
More mail: I had to laugh heartily at this message from James F: “Denis — more often than not your column falls flat. On the upside I have a few extra minutes in the day to do something more productive.” 

See, even when I fail, I am helping people.  That’s my take on it and I’m sticking to it.
ENDQUOTE: “Donald Trump's administration has been described as incompetent, disorganized, ineffective, uncoordinated and a failure. Such language soothes the anxieties of his critics by denying just how dangerous Trump and his presidency really are to the well-being of the United States and the world. In reality, the Trump administration and one-party Republican rule have been remarkably effective in several crucial ways. First, Trump has applied a version of the shock doctrine to American government and society. Here the government is destroyed from within by political appointees who actively betray the spirit and mission of the agencies they lead.”
Donald Trump during Press Briefing with Press Secretary Sarah Sanders (Credit: YouTube/The White House)
This is the opening to Chauncey Devega’s article on Salon, about the president and his appointees.  This piece is the very crux of the matter, the real story — not the Russian “collusion” and certainly not anything concerning Mr. Trump’s alleged romps with other women. (Shame, shame, shame on Rachel Maddow for pushing the Stormy Daniels story.  Maddow pretends she’s interested in “where the money came from” in alleged payoffs.  No. She is interested in something sordid on Trump so she and her MSNBC playpen pals can snigger and smirk and chortle and pretend somebody really cares about it.)
The damage that is being done by the current administration — away from the fire and fury of juvenile tweets — on issues of health care, women’s rights, race relations, the LGBT communities, the environment, are the slow steady drip of a democracy being torn asunder.

I don’t care about porn stars and the president.  And neither should the self-important pundits of cable TV.
Contact Denis here.