For some reason, “The Misfits” doesn’t seem like Marilyn Monroe’s last movie; probably because of the publicity received by “Something’s Got to Give” (1962, unfinished.) It is, along with Clark Gable’s final performance, who died from a heart attack before it was released (1960.)
Montgomery Clift would also die five years later (1966); Thelma Ritter in 1967. The sole survivor for many years was Eli Wallach, who passed away in 2014.
The screenplay by Arthur Miller was written especially for his wife, Marilyn. By the time, filming commenced, Miller and Monroe weren’t on speaking terms. Divorce was imminent.
Most consider “The Misfits” as Marilyn Monroe’s last film; however, there were a number of failed attempts to cast her in other pictures. Most famous of all is “Something’s Got to Give”, abandoned by 20th Century Fox after MM’s numerous absences. A last attempt to finish it, after Monroe was fired, then rehired, ended when she died on August 5, 1962.
The plot: A woman returns after being lost on a desert island, finding out her husband has just remarried. The first video is of a 1990’s TV special commenting on what transpired.
Recently restored by 20th Century Fox, the video below attempts to piece together what was filmed. (37 minutes in length.)
“The Misfits” (1961.) Arthur Miller’s saga of how a woman changes the lives of three down and out losers. Also starring Clark Gable, Eli Wallach and Montgomery Clift. “Misfits” didn’t connect with audiences then, but is more appreciated today.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
Based on the novella by Truman Capote. The author urged the studio to cast Marilyn as Holly Golightly. Turned down by the director Blake Edwards because of MM’s notorious reputation for being late, high, sick and/or forgetting her lines.
“They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” Rights to this were then owned by Charlie Chaplin, who offered MM the lead role. She turned it down, believing it was about horses. (Plot concerns marathon dance contests in the 1930’s.)
Actor friend Montgomery Clift tried to get Marilyn cast as Freud’s wife. Susan Kohner was cast instead.
“What a Way to Go!” (1964)
Dark comedy about a wife whose five husbands all die for one reason or another. Shirley MacLaine inherited the role.
Last major public appearance. MM sings “Happy Birthday” to President Kennedy. Host Peter Lawford refers to her as “the late Marilyn Monroe.”
Text © 2018 – ERN
The Misfits (1961.) A group of “losers” discover the meaning of life near Reno, NV. Troubled production. Monroe and husband/screenwriter Arthur Miller divorced immediately after. Clark Gable died from a heart attack before it hit theaters; M.M. died in ’62 from a drug overdose; possible suicide.
Elvis on Tour (1972.) Rock star Elvis Presley finally found his niche doing documentaries, this being his follow-up to “Elvis – That’s the Way It Is” (1970.) Amazing use of split screens; well edited by then newcomer Martin Scorsese. Won a Golden Globe for “Best Documentary”. Elvis died five years later in Graceland.
Giant (1956.) James Dean was the hottest new star in Hollywood when his aluminum sports car smashed itself into oblivion on 9/30/55. He received his second Oscar nomination for Best Actor as Jett Rink, Rock Hudson’s nemesis in “Giant”.
The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield (1968.) 1950’s blonde bombshell Jayne Mansfield still managed to earn a living doing nightclub appearances and independent films. This “mondo”-style documentary (filmed shortly before her death) is narrated by a female impersonator and ends with her car accident.
12 + 1 (aka The 13 Chairs, 1969.) Nearly unknown European comedy starring Vittorio Gassman and Sharon Tate. Not particularily funny and the two lead actors didn’t like each other. Miss Tate was murdered on Aug. 9, 1969 by the Manson “family”. (Written about in “Helter-Skelter” – 1971.)
They All Laughed (1981.) Model/actress Dorothy Stratten was just starting out – this being her third picture after “Autumn Born” and “Galaxina”. 1980 seemed like her year – she was chosen as “Playboy’s Playmate of the Year,” until she got caught up in a love triangle with director Peter Bogdanovich and her husnand/manager Paul Snider. Snider killed her and himself on Aug. 14, 1980, probably while they were discussing their impending divorce. Cause of death: a shotgun blast to the face.
Mame (1974.) Based on the famous Broadway musical, starring Lucille Ball, who most know can’t sing. ’74 was also the year “Here’s Lucy” (1968-1974) was cancelled. A bad luck year for that “wacky redhead”. Lucy died on 4/26/89 from a torn artery.
The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu (1980.) Actor Peter Sellers had finally found fortune again in the mid-to-late 1970’s. (In the “Pink Panther” film series and as Chauncey Gardiner in “Being There” (1979.) He completed his life’s work with this strange, obscure comedy which ends with him doing an Elvis impersonation. Mr. Sellers died from a heart attack on July 24, 1980.
Laurel & Hardy in “Utopia” (1950.) Weird French comedy, badly dubbed, starring that great comedy team Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. Language barrier further complicated this misunderstood venture. A few scenes shine through. Mr. Laurel died from a heart attack on 2/23/65. Mr. Hardy died from cerebral thrombosis on 8/7/57.
Kook’s Tour (1970.) Rarely seen “3 Stooges” pilot of them touring the countryside. Unique travelogue could’ve worked, except the “middle stooge” Larry Fine suffered from a stroke and was placed in a retirement home.
Vivian Leigh in “Ship of Fools” (1965.) Former Academy award winner for “Gone with the Wind” and “A Streetcar Named Desire”. Her final award was the “L’Etoile de Cristal for “Ship of Fools”. (lead performance) Leigh died from tuberculosis on July 8, 1967.
Article’s Text © 2016 – ERN – All Rights Reserved.
THE DAY THE CLOWN CRIED – (1971-1974) Jerry Lewis debacle, some of it funded with his own money, based on the true story of a Jewish Holocaust clown allowed to live if he lures children to their deaths in the Nazi gas chambers. Never completed. Lewis has disowned it. The master negative is still being held in a Swedish vault.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND – (1970’s) Nearly completed by master director Orson Welles, until Iranian funding was withdrawn. (Iran fell to the Ayatollah in 1979.) Costar and biographer Peter Bogdanovich offered to complete it, but was blocked by Welles’ heir. Previewed during the 1975 AFI awards.
SOMETHING’S GOT TO GIVE – (1962) Troubled production plagued by the unraveling mental and physical health of its star, Marilyn Monroe. Studio fired MM midway, then tried to replace her with Lee Remick. Costar Dean Martin refused to go on. MM rehired on August 1; died on August 5 from a drug overdose. Directed by George Cukor.
NAPOLEON – (1969-70) Famed director Stanley Kubrick spent a year in pre-production for this epic…until it was cancelled by MGM. The fading studio had decided to cut back on big-budget films and rebuild itself as a Vegas casino-resort.
ARYAN PAPERS – (early 1990’s) Another Kubrick cancellation. Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List” happened to come out during this same time period. It was felt that too many Holocaust films could not succeed financially. Based on the novel “Wartime Lies” by Louis Begley.
ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S KALEIDISCOPE – (1967) Director Alfred Hitchcock, intrigued by the French New Wave and Antionini’s “Blow-Up” (1966), began work on this avant-guarde, cinema-verite movie until Universal replaced it with the cold-war spy drama “Topaz” (1969.)
THE RAVAGERS – (1970) Fifth of the Matt Helm film series was cancelled due to the waning popularity of spy films and the murder of its costar Sharon Tate (who was scheduled to reprise her role as Freya Carlson from “The Wrecking Crew.”)
ROMANCE OF THE PINK PANTHER – (1981) Meant to be the sixth Peter Sellers-Inspector Clouseau comedy. Partially written by Sellers himself. Never filmed; Sellers died on July 24, 1980. The “Pink Panther” film series continued on with different actors including Ted Wass, Roberto Benini and Steve Martin. (Dudley Moore wisely turned it down.)
Text © 2016 – EricReports
It Follows (2015, Northern Lights Films)
About a sexually-transmitted disease; wherein the victims are followed by a slow-moving zombie who wants to kill you. The zombie can change its appearance and is invisible to others. Film depends on suspense more than horror with minimal special effects. Maika Monroe and Keir Gilchrist are especially good in their leading roles.
Blackbird (2012, A71 Productions)
Goth (played by Connor Jessup) tries to impress girl (Alexia Fast) who is already paired with jock (Craig Arnold.) Threats on the Internet lead to unforeseen events. Modern day story on how misunderstandings and political-correctness can alter people’s lives. Surprisingly effective.
United 93 (2006, Universal)
Based on the true story of the only hijacked plane on 9/11 that did not achieve its target. Director Paul Greengrass films it documentary style and it works. We all know the outcome, yet I defy anyone to watch it and not feel rage. The beginning of the War on Terror, whether people want to admit it or not.
The Misfits (1961, United Artists-7 Arts)
Melancholy farewell to movie greats Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe – their last completed film.
Written by Arthur Miller, directed by John Huston. Co-stars Montgomery Clift and Eli Wallach, (who died recently.) Drama set against the Nevada desert, as three men all fall for the same woman – Roslyn (MM.) Depressing, downbeat, not the hit many think it was. Stark black and white cinematography by Russell Metty, evocative score by Alex North.
King Kong (1933, RKO)
The original and still the best. I know the special effects are better today, but the latter versions lack the soul of this ancient, depression-era oldie. Dreamlike, atmospheric, and who can scream better than Fay Wray?
Stop motion photography was the CGI of the 30’s. Directed by M.C. Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack. Stars Bruce Cabot and Robert Armstrong. Groundbreaking score by Max Steiner.
A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969, Cinema Center Films)
First and best of the “Peanuts” gang animated films released in the theaters. Born loser Charlie Brown finally find his niche when he wins a series of spelling bees. Will he go on to be the state champion? All the classic elements are here: Oscar nominated Vince Guaraldi score, songs by Rod McKuen. Cartoonist Charles Schulz at his peak.
J.T. (1969, CBS)
Inner-city youth (Kevin Hooks) learns compassion taking care of an abandoned alley-cat. Heartfelt TV drama – the kind they don’t make anymore. Available on YouTube.
Cat o’ Nine Tails (1971, Warner Bros.)
Exciting horror-suspense film by Dario Argento. Stars James Fransiscus, Karl Malden and Catherine Spaak.
Mysterious murders begin occurring around a genetics laboratory. (Does a certain type of chromosome lead to violent behavior?) It’s up to two news reporters (one blind, aided by an orphan girl) to solve it. Recent uncut version is now available on DVD. Ennio Moricone’s soundtrack is also available.
Theatre of Blood (1973, United Artists)
Vincent Price stars as an egocentric stage actor, presumed dead, who seeks a grisly revenge on his critics. Perfect casting for Price.
Co-stars a sexy Diana Rigg as his daughter. Ghoulish, bloody humor not for the faint-hearted.
Who Killed Teddy Bear? (1965, Magna Corp.)
Nasty little black & white film about a sexually-obsessed stalker who terrorizes a girl who works in a disco. Surprisingly explicit for its time. Some of the film’s techniques would be used later in “Midnight Cowboy” (1969.) Stars Sal Mineo and Juliet Prowse would both meet unfortunate ends in real life. (Mineo murdered in ’76, Prowse bitten twice by a leopard in ’87, died later from cancer in ’96.) Songwriter Al Kasha had better luck, going on to win two Academy Awards. (“The Morning After” and “We May Never Love like this Again”.)
Text (C) 2015 – EricReportsNews
Soylent Green (1973, MGM)
Stars Charlton Heston, Leigh Taylor-Young, Chuck Connors and Edward G. Robinson. In the year 2022, one of the board members of the Soylent Corporation is murdered. Why? Heston (as police Detective Thorn) discovers a conspiracy behind it all and of the future food for the masses. Wonderful final performance from Edward G. Robinson as Sol Roth, Thorn’s “police book”. Sad last scene with them both. Robinson was dying from cancer while making this.
Becket (1964, Columbia)
True story of King Richard II (Peter O’Toole) and his best friend Thomas Becket (Richard Burton) whom he makes his Archbishop and who must choose God over the kingdom. Arguably, O’Toole’s best performance; Burton’s no slouch either.
They both received Oscar nominations, losing to Rex Harrison for “My Fair Lady”.
Black Sabbath aka Les Trois Visagees de la Peur or I Tre Volti della Paura (1963, Italy. 1964, USA)
There are two different versions, AIP’s and the original one in Italian. The three tales of horror include, “A Drop of Water”, “The Telephone” and “The Wurdelak” – which stars Boris Karloff. (The Italian version is dubbed and does not contain Karloff’s distinctive voice.)
“The Telephone” (the middle episode) has been toned down in the AIP cut. “A Drop of Water” is pure shock horror. Where did they get the woman to play the dead medium? Directed by Mario Bava, well known for being the father of giallo horror and the inspiration for future director Dario Argento.
It’s Alive (1974, Warner Bros.)
Psychodrama/sci-fi/horror flick written, directed and produced by Larry Cohen. Stars John P. Ryan and Sharon Farrell as the Davis’, parents who inadvertently breed a mutant killer baby.
Flopped upon its first release, then became a cult hit upon its 1977 re-release. Spawned two more sequels and a remake. Atmospheric score by master composer Bernard Herrmann.
The Illustrated Man (1968, Warner Bros.)
Uneven, but noteworthy film adaption of the Ray Bradbury classic.
Rod Steiger stars as the “Illustrated Man” who is tattooed from head to toe, “but don’t look too long because those tattoos will become alive.” Robert Drivas costars with Claire Bloom who was married to Steiger at the time.
The Hitcher (1986, Tri-Star Pictures)
Costars Jennifer Jason Leigh as Nash, a very underrated actress.
Hamlet (1996, Columbia)
Big-budget, all-star, epic of Shakespeare’s masterpiece. A Kenneth Brannagh project.
Best performance is Kate Winslet’s Ophelia.
70mm cinematography effect lessened on the small screen.
Let’s Make Love (1960, 20th Century-Fox)
Somewhat overlooked Marilyn Monroe film, more known at the time for the affair she had with her co-star Yves Montand. Comedy about Jean Marc Clement (Yves Montand), a billionaire who pretends to be a poor actor trying to impress Amanda Dell (Monroe.) Contains the showstoppers “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” and “Specialization”. Very funny in spots with cameos by Milton Bearle, Gene Kelly and Bing Crosby. Co-stars Tony Randall. MM’s husband, Arthur Miller, worked on the script, uncredited.
Text (C) 2015 – EricReports
CAUSES OF DEATH
1. Sharon Tate, murdered.
2. Marilyn Monroe, overdose.
3. Jill Ireland, cancer.
4. Jayne Mansfield, car accident.
5. Anna-Nicole Smith, overdose.
6. Brittany Murphy, disputed causes of death.
7. Natalie Wood, drowned.
8. Inger Stevens, overdose, possible suicide.
9. Jean Seberg, suicide.
10. Carol Wayne, drowned.