Sunday, July 31, 2011

Warm Wine Colours

For some reason I wasn't sure I would like The Prince and the Showgirl, but I became confident very quickly after I saw Jack Cardiff was cinematographer. It was directed by Laurence Olivier who did an appropriately unexciting job for a story that's not particularly exciting. That's okay--Jack Cardiff, Marilyn Monroe, and the costumes and sets are the stars of this movie. Cardiff's Technicolor cinematography has the same rich, waxy look it did in the colour films he shot for Powell and Pressburger that goes so beautifully with Rococo environments.

The movie's told almost entirely from the point of view of Monroe's character as she meets the world of the Grand Duke (played by Olivier) after he's had her brought to a private room at the Carpathan embassy purely for sex. There ends up being no sex, but Monroe ends up hanging around for days in the same dress, almost accidentally mending small rifts in the Grand Duke's family. Very little happens--Monroe had long dreamed of getting a juicy dramatic role, but The Misfits is the only film that really satisfied the desire. But still, The Prince and the Showgirl and a bottle of sake makes for a wonderful, lazy evening.

I was fascinated to learn that Cardiff and Monroe developed a friendship, according to his autobiography. From this article;

While Cardiff is sympathetic to Olivier, who died, aged 82, in 1989, he remains loyal to Monroe. He paints a picture of a sex symbol who had an almost child-like quality off screen. He insists that her legendary inability to turn up anywhere on time was not arrogance, but shyness.

He recalls how a trip to the theatre could be enough to push her over the edge: "When we got inside, we were sitting in the stalls about 10 rows back and everyone sitting in front was just turned around looking at Marilyn. During the interval, to stop us being mobbed they had fixed up a private little room for us. The first bell to signal the end of the interval went, and we got ready to go, but Marilyn asked for another drink. Then the second bell went and she still wouldn't go. I looked at her and she was obviously terrified of going back."

Cardiff's last meeting with Monroe, in a Hollywood hotel just months before her death, gave him a revealing insight into her private turmoil. He recalls: "I went over and it was a big room with just one dim light and she was wearing dark glasses. We sat together on the settee and had a drink and she told me what a terrible time she had been having."

I dreamt I was at CostCo last night, which is a big club store generally known for selling food, furniture, and other things in bulk and therefore ultimately cheaper. In my dream, CostCo had a high school style cafeteria and David Lynch was serving food. He told me I looked like I needed bacon, which I acquiesced to, despite being a vegetarian, because he was David Lynch. When I got outside, I had to carefully avoid a komodo dragon who was fighting two alligators.

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