I have to confess that I just never got the whole Marilyn Monroe thing. Sure, she was pretty, turned in some memorable film performances, and posed for that iconic PLAYBOY spread on the red velvet — you have to see the bit in the documentary HEAVY PETTING that features the late Spaulding Gray discussing first seeing that shot during his adolescence; the sheer ecstasy on his face and the way he tells the story is like witnessing a religious experience — but what exactly was the big deal that elevated her to her status as a Hollywood goddess whose image is as ubiquitous as Santa Claus during the Christmas season?
We've all seen the famous portraits of Marilyn with that dress being blown about in THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH (1955), and the myriad of sleepy-eyed, come hither-faced shots of her peroxided kisser, but what is it about this demigoddess of 1950's celluloid sexuality that continues to fascinate and excite film fans, both male and female, some five decades after her heyday, while other contemporary blonde bombshells have faded into cult obscurity?
I was always a Jayne Mansfield man and enjoyed her very much self-aware sense of humor about her zaftig, cartoonish looks and her in-your-face lampooning of that image, especially when one takes into account the fact that she possessed an IQ of 160, was a five-language polyglot, and held membership in MENSA.
In short, Mansfield had fun with her goofball-with-huge-cans image, and I found that tremendously appealing. But, as was the case with many of Hollywood's leading ladies back in the days, Jayne found herself saddled with debilitating substance addiction, largely brought on by being rendered obsolete when the era of the the blonde bombshell ended on that day in 1962 when Marilyn Monroe was found dead of an apparent suicide (yeah, right). Mansfield's career took a major nosedive, and she resorted to appearing in some fairly tame semi-nudie flicks in which she displayed pretty much every part of her luscious anatomy before famously dying in an horrific car accident in 1967. Contrary to popular belief, she was not beheaded, and her equally brilliant daughter, Mariska Hargitay of LAW & ORDER: SVU fame, was in the back seat, and today bears a facial scar from that tragic misadventure.
The other fifties bleach-goddess who struck a responsive chord in Yer Bunche was Mamie Van Doren, by far the "bad girl" archetype of the trio, largely relegated to B-movie roles that showcased her impressive dairies in impossibly tight sweaters.
But, again, I ask what's the deal with Marilyn? I find both Jayne and Mamie considerably hotter, but why does the majority of the rest of film geekdom enshrine Monroe? It's not like I hate her or anything, but she just doesn't register with me. If any of you can explain her appeal and mystique to me I will be eternally grateful. I'd especially like to have this explained by a woman who's into the Monroe thing; as a guy I can get why another hetero male could be into her, but many of us find ourselves totally C-struck by just about anything even remotely female, so ladies, please weigh in. As for my fondness for the other two, maybe my fascination with boobage factors in heavily? I honestly don't have an answer.
Which brings me to this morning.
I awoke and turned on NY1 news and was greeted by a segment announcing that some dude had just shelled out a cool $1.5 million bucks for a film that shows, clear as day, Marilyn Monroe administering oral kindness to some guy whose face does not enter into the frame. This purchase thrust MM back into the news again. And I was both shocked and kind of impressed with the buyer because he claims to have bought the footage to keep it out of the hands of the unscrupulous so it wouldn't be used to tarnish Monroe's iconic image. Hey, if it was me I probably would have marketed the shit out of that film and reaped untold gazillions from its DVD sales, but who knows how this film was obtained, or if she was coerced? Yeah, yeah, I can hear many of you saying that it was probably a "casting couch" scenario and that everybody who ever got anywhere in Hollywood probably engaged in such stuff — even a certain Teutonic bodybuilder who now holds political office — , but wouldn't it be a total mindfuck if it turned out to be one of the Kennedy's home movies? Oy vey iz mier...
From this morning's New York Post:
HARDCORE MARILYNFBI'S MONROE SEX FLICK SOLD FOR $1.5M
By HASANI GITTENS
April 14, 2008 --
Some really like it hot.
In the sordid tradition of peddling raunchy video footage of celebrities a la Paris Holton, a long-buried sex movie of Marilyn Monroe recently hit the market, a top collector told The Post.
An illicit copy of the steamy, still-FBI-classified reel - 15 minutes of 16mm film footage in which the original blond bombshell performs oral sex on an unidentified man - was just sold to a New York businessman for $1.5 million, said Keya Morgan, the well-known memorabilia collector who discovered the film and brokered its purchase.
The footage appears to have been shot in the 1950s. When it came to light in the mid-'60s, then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had his agents spend two weeks futilely trying to prove that Monroe's sex partner was either John F. Kennedy or Robert F. Kennedy, according to declassified agency documents and interviews, Morgan said.
The silent black-and-white flick shows Monroe on her knees in front of a man whose face is just out of the shot. He never moves into the shot, indicating that he knew the camera was there, but Monroe never looks at the lens, said Morgan, who saw the footage.
Morgan said he discovered the film while doing research for a documentary on Monroe, after talking with a former FBI agent who told him about a confidential informant who tipped G-men to the existence of the film in the mid-'60s. The feds eventually confiscated the original footage - but not before the informant made a copy of it, which is what was just sold by his son, Morgan said.
There are heavily redacted, declassified FBI documents talking about a "French-type" film.
They state the informant "exhibited [to agents] a motion picture which depicted deceased actress Marilyn Monroe committing a perverted act upon a unknown male," Morgan said.
The informant was with at least one mobster at the time, the documents state.
According to the documents, "Former baseball star Joseph DiMaggio in the past had offered [the informant] $25,000 for this film, it being the only one in existence, but he refused the offer.
"Source advised that [redacted name of the mole] informed them that he had obtained this film prior to the time Marilyn Monroe had achieved stardom."
Morgan said he got the deceased informant's name from the former FBI agent who tipped him off to the flick - and was floored after he found the mole's son in Washington, DC, and the man retrieved a film canister from a safe-deposit box and spooled it up. "You see instantly that it's Marilyn Monroe - she has the famous mole," Morgan said. "She's smiling, she's very charming, she's very radiant, but she's known for being radiant," he said. "She moves away, and then it [the footage] stops."
Last month, he brokered its sale, leading the informant's son to a wealthy New York businessman who wants to keep this unseemly part of Monroe's past buried. "He said he's just going to lock it up," Morgan said. "He said, 'I'm not going to make a Paris Hilton out of her. I'm not going to sell it, out of respect.' "