Marilyn Monroe Season: 15 of her best-loved films on the big screen at BFI Southbank this June
Throughout June BFI Southbank will celebrate one of Hollywood’s most iconic actresses, Marilyn Monroe, with a season of 15 of her best-loved films including Some Like it Hot (1959), There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954) and The Misfits (1961), the latter of which will play on extended run. Sex symbol, Hollywood starlet and tragic heroine, the story of Marilyn Monroe has been pored over countless times, often resulting in her considerable acting ability being overlooked. Monroe invented her own image of femininity and performed it so flawlessly that it still resonates in our own time, having influenced performers from Madonna to Rita Ora. Her luminescent star quality, warmth and humanity made her roles in such films as The Seven Year Itch (1955) andGentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) much more than comic dumb blonde stereotypes. The season will also offer audiences a chance to see some of Monroe’s rarely-screened early films includingWe’re Not Married (1952) and Clash By Night (1952), and look behind the legend of Marilyn Monroe with dedicated talks and study days.
Born Norma Jeane Mortensen on June 1 1926, Monroe overcame a difficult childhood to become one of the world’s biggest and most enduring sex symbols. Married to a merchant marine by the age of 16, she developed a successful career as a model and changed her name to Marilyn Monroe in preparation for an acting career. Roles in We’re Not Married (1952), Don’t Bother to Knock(1952), Monkey Business (1952) and Clash By Night (1952) gave her some early success, but it was first star billing in Niagara (1953) which began to really propel Monroe towards stardom. Monroe starred opposite Joseph Cotton as a young married woman out to kill her husband with help from her lover. A number of light comedic roles followed in films such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) and The Seven Year Itch (1955), but she began to feel typecast as a ‘dumb blonde’ and decided to take control of her career. She studied at the Actors Studio to broaden her range, resulting in a Golden Globe nomination for her role in Bus Stop (1956) and she also formed her own production company, Marilyn Monroe Productions, which produced The Prince and the Showgirl (1957), in which she starred alongside Laurence Olivier. Completing the season will be John Huston’s The Misfits (1961). Written for Monroe by her husband Arthur Miller, the film gave her the fragile role that she had trained for in her time at the Actors Studio. With script revisions throughout the shoot as Monroe and Miller’s marriage broke down, this powerful and emotional drama was the final completed film for both Clark Gable and Monroe, and will play on extended run during the season. On August 5, 1962, at only 36 years old, Marilyn Monroe died at her Los Angeles home. An empty bottle of sleeping pills was found by her bed.