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Ojai Orange | The Column of Lasting Insignificance | Books | Wait-A-Minute

June 6, 2009
John Wilcock - January 5, 2008

 

  The column of lasting insignificance
     


also posted:



2011
November 26 2011
November 19, 2011
November 12, 2011
November 5, 2011
October 29, 2011
October 22, 2011
October 15, 2011
October 8, 2011
October 1, 2011
September 24, 2011
September 17, 2011
September 10, 2011
September 4, 2011
August 27, 2011
August 20, 2011
August 13, 2011
August 6, 2011
July 30, 2011
July 23, 2011
July 16, 2011
July 9, 2011
July 2, 2011
June 25, 2011
June 18, 2011
June 11, 2011
June 4, 2011
May 28, 2011
May 21, 2011
May 14, 2011
May 7, 2011
April 30, 2011
April 23, 2011
April 16, 2011
April 9, 2011
April 2, 2011
March 26, 2011
March 19, 2011
March 12, 2011
March 5, 2011
February 26, 2011
February 19, 2011
February 12, 2011
February 5, 2011
February 5, 2011
January 29, 2011
January 22, 2011
January 15, 2011
January 6, 2011

2010
December 25, 2010
December 18, 2010
December 11, 2010
December 4, 2010
November 27, 2010
November 20, 2010
November 13, 2010
November 6, 2010
October 30, 2010
October 23, 2010
October 16, 2010
October 9, 2010
October 2, 2010
September 25, 2010
September 18, 2010
September 11, 2010
September 4, 2010
August 28, 2010
August 21, 2010
August 14, 2010
August 7, 2010
July 31, 2010
July 24, 2010
July 17, 2010
July 10, 2010
July 3, 2010
June 26, 2010
June 19, 2010
June 12, 2010
June 5, 2010
May 29, 2010
May 22, 2010
May 15, 2010
May 8, 2010
May 1, 2010
April 24, 2010
April 17, 2010
April 10, 2010
April 3, 2010
March 27, 2010
March 20, 2010
March 13, 2010
March 6, 2010
February 27, 2010
February 20, 2010
February 13, 2010
February 6, 2010
January 30, 2010
January 23, 2010
January 16, 2010
January 9, 2010
January 2, 2010

2009
December 26, 2009
December 19, 2009
December 12, 2009
December 5, 2009
November 28, 2009
November 21, 2009
November 14, 2009
November 7, 2009
October 31, 2009
October 24, 2009
October 17, 2009
October 10, 2009
October 3, 2009
September 26, 2009
September 19, 2009
September 12, 2009
September 5, 2009
August 29, 2009
August 22, 2009
August 15, 2009
August 8, 2009
August 1, 2009
July 25, 2009
July 18, 2009
July 11, 2009
July 4, 2009
June 27, 2009
June 20, 2009
June 13, 2009
June 6, 2009
May 30, 2009
May 23, 2009
May 16, 2009
May 9, 2009
May 2, 2009
April 25, 2009
April 18, 2009
April 11, 2009
April 4, 2009
March 28, 2009
March 21, 2009
March 14, 2009
March 7, 2009
February 28, 2009
February 21, 2009
February 14, 2009
February 7, 2009
January 31, 2009
January 24, 2009
January 17, 2009
January 3, 2009

2008
December 27, 2008
December 20, 2008
December 13, 2008
December 6, 2008
November 29, 2008
November 22, 2008
November 15, 2008
November 8, 2008
November 5, 2008
November 1, 2008
October 25, 2008
October 18, 2008
October 11, 2008
October 4, 2008
September 27, 2008
September 20, 2008
September 13, 2008
September 6, 2008
August 30, 2008
August 23, 2008
August 16, 2008
August 9, 2008
August 2, 2008
July 26, 2008
July 19, 2008
July 12, 2008
July 5, 2008
June 28, 2008
June 21, 2008
June 14, 2008
June 7, 2008
May 31, 2008
May 24, 2008
May 17, 2008
May 10, 2008
May 3, 2008
April 26, 2008
April 19, 2008
April 12, 2008
April 5, 2008
March 29, 2008
March 22, 2008
March 15, 2008
March 8, 2008
March 1, 2008
February 23, 2008
February 16, 2008
February 9, 2008
February 2, 2008
January 26, 2008
January 19, 2008
January 12, 2008
January 5, 2008

2007
December 29, 2007
December 22, 2007
December 15, 2007
December 8, 2007
December 1, 2007
November 24, 2007
November 17, 2007
November 10, 2007
November 3, 2007
October 27, 2007
October 20, 2007
October 13, 2007
October 6, 2007
September 29, 2007
September 22, 2007
September 15, 2007
September 8, 2007
September 1, 2007
August 25, 2007
August 18, 2007
August 11, 2007
August 4, 2007
July 28, 2007
July 21, 2007
July 14, 2007
July 7, 2007
June 30, 2007
June 23, 2007
June 16, 2007
June 9, 2007
June 2, 2007
May 19, 2007
May 12, 2007
May 5, 2007
April 28, 2007
April 21, 2007
April 14, 2007
April 7, 2007
March 31, 2007
March 24, 2007
March 17, 2007
March 10, 2007
March 3, 2007
February 24, 2007
February 17, 2007
February 10, 2007
February 3, 2007
January 20, 2007
January 13, 2007
January 6, 2007

2006
December 30, 2006
December 23, 2006
December 16, 2006
December 9, 2006
December 2, 2006
November 25, 2006
November 18, 2006
November 11, 2006
November 4, 2006
October 28, 2006
October 21, 2006
October 14, 2006
October 7, 2006
September 30, 2006
September 23, 2006
September 16, 2006
September 9, 2006
September 2, 2006
August 26, 2006
August 19, 2006
August 12, 2006
August 5, 2006
July 29, 2006
July 22, 2006
July 15, 2006

 

 



June 6, 2009

Marilyn Monroe had Clark Gable as her co-star almost half a century ago, in the last movie that either of them made, and the making of the film has survived as Hollywood legend even more than the movie itself. Also in the cast of characters in this momentous desert drama were Marilyn’s almost-estranged hubby Arthur Miller; the predictably irascible (and often drunk) director John Huston; and brooding Montgomery Clift.

These colorful, indeed, narcissistic figures, were accompanied, and sometimes obstructed by, punk singer Glenn Danzy who reportedly had a crush on MM (and later wrote a song, Who Killed Marilyn?), Eli Wallach, Thelma Ritter, her omnipresent mentor Paula Strassberg, and the set photographer Inge Morath who later married Miller.    

Paula wore a long black dress that looked as if it had been cut from a gunny sack, and a black hat. Everybody called her Black Bart, and she was so overweight she made walking look difficult. She didn’t get out of the limo. She descended. Paula could turn buying a roll of toilet paper into a monumental act, John thought, and wondered if she knew that Lee was fucking Marilyn when he’d been a student at what Paula liked to call The Studio.

(Misfits Country )

Also on the near-Reno set of the $4million production, was 22-year-old Arthur Knight. A nomadic college graduate at the time, and finding himself fortuitously around the scene, he became privy to much of the backstage action, from which he recently constructed a fascinating roman a clef. His relatively obscure memoir Misfits Country (Tres Picos Press) is adroitly presented as a work of fiction—“totally the products of the author’s imagination”. Each of its 30 short chapters are headed  with the name of the protagonist, and what was on his/her mind at the time.

John

Sometimes John could cheerfully have killed everyone who was connected with the Actors Studio. They made him tired, talking about their craft. Why didn’t they just learn their lines and recite them like Gable, instead of intellectualizing everything?

At the time, late 1950s, Misfits was the most expensive black and white film ever made and Knight’s coverage of it may or may not have been anything like a documentary. But it certainly offers an absorbing read.

Clark

She was breathless when she spoke to Clark. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.  I just can’t seem to get organized before noon…I don’t mean to cause any trouble. It’s just all the pills… I take…”

Clark smiled back, touching her hand lightly. You’re not late honey. He’d always been a good liar. It was what actors did best.

“Why’d you decide to do this picture?” Marilyn asked

They’re paying me a lot of money.

“I didn’t mean that”.

What do you mean? He watched his hand shake as if  it belonged  to some one else; he clutched his drink.

“I mean people must have told you…I’m difficult to work with”.

Honey, everybody’s difficult to work with.

Mongomery Clift, a self-hating gay, quickly became best buddies with his young co-star on the set of The Misfits—an appropriate name--spending considerable amounts of time with the melancholy Marilyn. Much of this she spent acting as a mother hen, consoling and commiserating with the 40-year old Clift.

Monty

He stared at his flaccid penis. “We shouldn’t have  tried”.

Marilyn stood beside him, her breasts gleaming…

”You should never give up trying. It’s good for people who care about each  other to…to be together.. You’re not queer. You’re just…confused

“I’ll make it better” Marilyn said, kneeling before him”

“Jesus, Marilyn, you don’t need to do that…I thought you vowed never to suck another cock once you were famous

She paused, looking up at him. “This is different” she said.

The movie, which has become a cult favorite over the years, was not well received by the critics, but it did win a Golden Globes award for Marilyn and a nomination for Huston as best director from the Directors Guild of America. In a 1968 review, Damian Cannon, wrote that what seemed to have floored viewers of the time was the lack of a clear-cut hero, the absence of a solid central figure. “In what is nominally a cowboy flick it must have felt as if John Huston betrayed the genre. Yet the point is that for writer Arthur Miller, cowboys are mere metaphors. In belonging to a vanished age, they are symbolic of the many folk left behind by progress”.

Marilyn

Why don’t you sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Arthur?”

To Arthur? She’d rather sing Happy Birthday to the parking lot attendant she’d had sex with earlier that evening…Arthur and I had stopped being nice to each other a long time ago. I thought you knew that. She was going to divorce Arthur as soon as the picture was finished. 

“Yeah, I kind of noticed things were tense between the two” John laughed. “I just get forgetful when I’m drinking”.

Don’t we all,  Marilyn said.

Producer Frank E. Taylor, a book editor at the time, (he died in 1999) has only one other minor movie credit to his name and (in Knight’s version) was bemused throughout the filming.

The Producer

Frank said, “Sometimes I think I must be the only normal person in Reno. I barely drink or smoke, and I don’t gamble or take drugs. I even sleep seven or eight hours a night, and I almost never have bad dreams. Everyone I work with thinks I’m a freak”.

Nan laughed. How can a normal person be freaky?

“I don’t know”, Frank said. “You’d have to ask Marilyn. Or Monty. Or even John. They could tell you”.

The misfits of the story were the wild horses that the characters played by Gable and Wallach were rounding up in the desert. But it might equally apply to the stressed stars. Gable, who performed his own enervating stunts, died of a heart attack three days after filming. Racked by drugs and alcohol, Monroe died of an overdose the following year and Clift, with whom she attended the New York premiere in February 1961 died (at 46) four years later. The book jacket claims that “though a work of fiction, this may be the most honest depiction of Marilyn ever produced”.

JOHN WILCOCK IS CURRENTLY VISITING AFRICA

5/30/09

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