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MARILYN MONROE: THE FINAL DAYS

There are plenty of legendary Hollywood stars, but there are few that have transcended that state to become true screen icons. Marilyn Monroe is one of the few. Although she appeared in a relatively small body of films, Marilyn was something special. The camera absolutely adored her and the silver screen positively lit up every time she appeared. Marilyn died young, which may explain her cinematic immortality, since she never had the opportunity to fade away on screen in front of her countless fans. Much has been written, said and whispered about Marilyn's death, was it suicide... an accident... or murder? It's doubtless that the rumors will never stop swirling because there are no eyewitnesses to testify as to what happened in Marilyn's bedroom on the eve of her death. However, we do have a film account of what occurred in Marilyn life during the months, weeks and days leading up to her death.

MARILYN MONROE: THE FINAL DAYS is the AMC documentary that has been made available on a bonus disc in 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment's Marilyn Monroe: The Diamond Collection. Narrated by James Coburn, The documentary focuses on the troubled production of Marilyn's final, uncompleted film, which was entitled SOMETHING'S GOT TO GIVE. Utilizing records from the studio archive as well as interviews with surviving members of the production team and other concerned parties, the documentary pieces together a portrait of the final days of the troubled star.

Marilyn didn't want to make SOMETHING'S GOT TO GIVE, but she was contractually obligated to star in the film for 20th Century Fox. Of course, there were problems right from the start, with illness and Marilyn’s own personal demons keeping her away from the set much of the time. Everyone, including the film’s director George Cukor, was driven to exasperation but Marilyn’s inability to show up for work, especially when her presence was desperately required. While Marilyn was eventually fired for her continued absences, the studio reluctantly rehired her when they learned that they could not recast her part because of co-star Dean Martin's contract. Unfortunately, before SOMETHING'S GOT TO GIVE could be competed, Marilyn met her tragic end.

My favorite aspect of the program is the assembly of roughly thirty-five minutes of raw footage from the production of SOMETHING'S GOT TO GIVE into a coherent form. For those that don’t know, SOMETHING'S GOT TO GIVE was to be a remake of the popular Cary Grant film MY FAVORITE WIFE. Marilyn was to play a woman who was been declared dead, as a result of having been missing for five years after a boating accident. However, after being rescued from an uncharted island, Marilyn’s character returns home to discover that her husband (Dean Martin) is now married to another woman (Cyd Charisse). Judging from the scenes presented, I would say SOMETHING'S GOT TO GIVE would have been an enjoyable little film that would have benefited from Marilyn’s screen presence. Marilyn never looked more radiant than she appeared in SOMETHING'S GOT TO GIVE and certain aspects of her performance showed an accomplished maturity that made her sweet, touching and very funny- all at the same time. The cast of the uncompleted SOMETHING'S GOT TO GIVE also included Phil Silvers, Steve Allen and Wally Cox. FYI, the aborted project eventually came to the screen as MOVE OVER, DARLING with Doris Day and James Garner.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has given MARILYN MONROE: THE FINAL DAYS a very nice presentation on DVD. The documentary is shown in its proper full screen aspect ratio, while the assembled footage from SOMETHING'S GOT TO GIVE is presented in a non-enhanced wide screen at 2.35:1. Its amazing that the footage from SOMETHING'S GOT TO GIVE looks as good as it does, since the studio most likely considered it nothing more than a cinematic curiosity for almost forty years. It's not perfect, but the image is usually clean and well defined- looking pretty much like other CinemaScope productions from 1962. A couple of Marilyn's close ups appear a little fuzzy, but these particular shots utilized a diffusion lens to photograph the actress on a day when wasn't looking her best. Colors are pretty solid; looking amazingly well preserved for DeLuxe Color from this period. As for the rest of the program, there are no discernable flaws in the video quality for the documentary.

The Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtrack decodes to standard surround and is pretty good sounding, all things considered. Voices in the documentary have a richer timbre than those in the assembled film, but that has to be expected, especially when one considers the unique history of these materials. The assembled version of SOMETHING'S GOT TO GIVE has been given musical scoring, which has a definite stereo presence and utilizes the rear channels for a bit of ambient fill. Overall, the audio is very solid and certainly better than expected. English subtitles are provided on the DVD

The disc employs basic interactive menus that give one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a couple of extras. A Movietone newsreel that explains CinemaScope has been included on the disc, as has a trailer for the 20th Century Fox production of CLEOPATRA, which was actually the impetus for SOMETHING'S GOT TO GIVE to go before the cameras.

As I stated above, MARILYN MONROE: THE FINAL DAYS is only available as part of the Marilyn Monroe: The Diamond Collection. The box set retails for $99.98 and is a great value since it also included the following Marilyn Monroe films: GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES, HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE, THERE'S NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS, THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH and BUS STOP. Marilyn Monroe: The Diamond Collection is a must have DVD release for film buffs and devotees of the screen icon.

Click on the below links to read the reviews of the other titles from Marilyn Monroe: The Diamond Collection.

 

MARILYN MONROE: THE FINAL DAYS

Marilyn Monroe: The Diamond Collection

 


Marilyn Monroe - The Diamond Collection

  


DVD reviews are Copyright 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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