Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Carrie Fisher

"Who do you think you would've turned out to be if you weren't an intergalactic princess?"

I'd be me

You know, Carrie

Just me

-Carrie Fisher

Since my awkward teenage years I have always wanted to be Princess Leia. She was the first film character I adored beyond reason, the first character I aspired to be. Leia was feisty, smart, witty, beautiful and could save herself. For generations of young women she was a role model, so different from the more traditional Princesses who were always waiting to be rescued. 

And Leia was brought to life by Carrie Fisher, Hollywood Royalty herself. Nineteen in the first Star Wars she too was feisty and intelligent, humorous, warm and honest, and I am incredibly sad to hear of her passing. 
Carrie's life was not always easy but she was a strong woman, a talented actresses, author and screenwriter, Carrie used her experiences to comfort and make people laugh. 
Following her own battles Carrie was passionate about mental health issues, and she strove tirelessly to end the stigma surrounding them. She wrote eight books and several screenplays. 

But thank you Carrie for being you, for showing us it didn't matter if you were a girl, didn't matter if you battled depression, didn't matter how you looked, you could still be a brave rebel Princess. 

Goodbye our Princess, you will be greatly missed & the Force will be with you always


Sunday, 20 November 2016

Five Branded Women (1960)

Five different women from a small Yugoslavian town in WW2 are humiliated and banished for having relations with a womanising German Officer. Forced to rely on themselves and their new found friendship the five women join the local partisan group and are forced to make decisions about life, love and death.

(An exploitive poster that really reflects nothing of the film!)

An American-Italian film, directed by Martin Ritt and featuring an all star, international cast including, Silvana Mangano, Jeanne Moreau, Vera Miles, Barbara Bel Geddes, Carla Gravina, and Van Heflin, Five Branded Women questions what war is about. Is it really a battle between good and evil or is it actually a battle between men and women? Is anyone really innocent during war time?
The film centres on five women, Jovanka (Mangano), Ljuba (Moreau), Daniza (Miles), Marja  (Bel Geddes) and Mira (Gravina).  The women are portrayed sympathetically despite their 'crime'. Each have a different reason for sleeping with the officer and these reasons further complicate the problems of occupation.
Daniza has one of the most haunting story lines, unlike the others she did not have a sexual relationship with the Nazi Officer, but is punished along with the rest. When she does fall in love, with Blanco, seemingly the 'right' choice, for he is on the 'right' side, she is shot because relationships are not allowed within the partisans. The double standard is obvious and confronting, and the strong willed Jovanka is vocal in her contempt. The German Officer's lust is no different to that of Blanco's and in both cases a woman suffers for a mans desire. The German Captain who is captured by Ljuba is shown to be both intellectual and kind, in stark contrast to the rough, violent partisans. Even Jovanka finds her personal beliefs threatened when she finds herself developing feelings for the partisan leader, Velko (Heflin). In each case what constitutes good and evil is questioned and threatened.

Perhaps ironically however the war also gives the women a certain amount of power. As the partisans are short on man power, the five outcasts are readily welcomed into their ranks, allowing them to fight alongside the men, something that would never have been allowed outside of war time. When their heads are shaved the women literally and metaphorically shed their femininity. The Nazi Officer on the other hand is mutilated and loses his masculinity. The film portrays, in a very literal way, an event that often took place during war time, the reversal of male and female roles.

(The haunting Jeanne Moreau in a publicity still for the film)

Shaving the heads of women believed to have had sexual relationships with Nazis was common practice, especially after the war ended. These women were subjected to horrific humiliation and abuse, and many of them had done no more than cook for a soldier in their home
There is no clear cut answer to the films questions, and the lines of good vs. evil are blurred, yet the film is a fascinating and often moving portrayal of female experience during a time of war.


Thursday, 3 November 2016

Quick Flicks

Holiday (1938): Starring Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. This is quite an enjoyable screwball comedy although it isn't the greatest film in the world. It has some genuine laugh out loud moments and a strong supporting cast however I felt there was a lack of character development, especially with the character of Julie. 3.5/5

All the Fine Young Cannibals (1960): Starring Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner. An interesting storyline but the script tends to become too melodramatic. Natalie gives her all, and is stunning, but I wish the script had allowed her to develop her character more. Despite its flaws the film would make an interesting study as Natalie's character suffers most of the blame during the film, whilst Wagner's (who was perhaps more at fault) is largely seen as an object of pity. 3.5/5

Signpost to Murder (1964): Starring Joanne Woodward and Stuart Whitman. An American film set in England, this film feels like a quintessential British murder mystery. Joanna is wonderful as a woman who is not all she seems. The atmosphere is eerie and the plot twist is both unexpected and chilling. 3.5/5

Winning (1969): Starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Wonderful performances from Paul and Joanne, (in fact I think this may be one of my favourite Paul roles!) The film is bittersweet, realistic and engrossing, don't be put off by the cars! And I loved Joanne's outfits and the quintessentially sixties theme. (The only flaw is that no one would cheat on Paul Newman with Robert Wagner!! Ha!) 4/5

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Django (1966)

Django (Franco Nero) a mysterious figure appears in a small town controlled by two warring factions. He says little and drags a coffin behind him. When he rescues a prostitute from being murdered he arouses the interests of both a sadistic Major and a group of outlaw Mexicans. Yet Django has his own reasons for being in town.

The films enigmatic hero speaks little yet carries a lot of emotional baggage from his past. Though Django is an avenging anti hero he is not invincible and both he and Maria (Loredana Nusciak) are somewhat robotic, it's been suggested that this is because both have been overexposed to violence. The film is bleak, the town is frigid and sinking in mud and the dark colours are contrasted dramatically by the red hoods of the majors men and the bright blood. The film makes extensive use of the 'imagery of death' including, blood, coffin's and crucifixes.

Sergio Corbucci's film remains one of the most influential Spaghetti Westerns of all time; it spawned several sequels, remakes, and a lot of films that simply used the name Django in the title to draw people in. Initially however the film was greatly criticised for its use of violence. Still it became one of the most famous and successful of the Spaghetti's, along with Sergio Leone's Dollars Trilogy.
Django remains a unique visual Western that plays upon more common tropes and creates its own, it critiques violence, greed and racist imagery and gave cinema a fascinating anti hero.


Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Term of Trial (1962)

 Kindhearted, but alcoholic school teacher Graham Weir,  has a criminal record for refusing to fight in the war and consequently has been unable to move up in the world. His wife (Simone Signoret) resents their lack of money and is bitter about her life. He agrees to tutor one of his students, Shirley Taylor (Sarah Miles), despite his wife's misgivings about the girls intentions. After a school trip to Paris Shirley admits her love to Graham, but when she is rejected she accuses him of assault.

The film also stars Terence Stamp (!!) as the naughty Mitchell who terrorises everyone. Weir and Shirley develop a friendship, based on her infatuation for him, and his affection for her-as something of a substitute for the child he was unable to have. Sometimes his actions are somewhat cringe worthy in light of the audiences knowledge of Shirley's feelings. The film also subtly critiques the role of parents in their children's lives. Shirley is ashamed of her family, and Mitchell's father obviously encourages violence. Weir wants to make a difference in the children's lives, but his own unhappy life make him oblivious to what is really going on before his eyes.

Olivier's performance is understated yet tragic. He ardently believes in justice and truth yet is put down by everyone around him. Miles as Shirley is torn between childish and adult emotions. The ending of the film is surprising, and somewhat frustrating. After an impassioned speech for his innocence Weir succeeds in getting Shirley to admit her own guilt, however upon his return home he finds his wife about to leave him. She tells him he is a coward and in a desperate attempt to continue their relationship Weir lies. He tells her he did sleep with Shirley. Using this technique he does win her back, however it is a blatant contradiction of all he has said and done during the rest of the film. Despite his wife's cruelty towards him he sacrifices his own moral standards to keep her. It does make the audience question his strength-Perhaps he is as weak as his wife states?


Friday, 9 September 2016

Some Like It Hot (1959)

Two down on their luck musicians, Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon), witness a massacre committed by the mafia and are then wanted by the gangsters. They decide to dress as women and join an all female band travelling to Miami under the guises Josephine and Daphne. On joining the band they meet Sugar 'Kane' (Marilyn Monroe), a lonely ukelele player. Joe/Josephine soon finds himself falling for her, and a wealthy millionaire finds himself falling for Jerry/Daphne. When the gangsters turn up at the hotel chaos ensues.

Some Like It Hot remains one of the best loved comedy films of all time. The AFI even voted it their top comedy film in their 100 Years…100 Laughs list. This owes much to Billy Wilder's direction but also to the impeccable timing of Lemmon. Despite the film being filled with wonderful performances Lemmon as the bubbly Jerry/Daphne is the highlight. Jerry embraces his female persona whole heartedly with his high pitched voice, bouncy way of walking, excited re-naming and giddy excitement at his engagement. It is also a brilliant performance from Monroe who looks stunning and is sweet yet world weary.

Some Like It Hot was filmed in black and white despite the increasing popularity of colour film. Supposedly this was because the makeup worn by Curtis and Lemmon made them look green! The film was well noted for its troubled production, Monroe battling a pill addiction which made her habitually late and caused her to forget her lines. Yet it is a testament to her strength and talent that she gives a wonderful performance. The film is also well remembered for the slightly risqué Orry Kelly gowns Monroe wore in a number of key scenes.

Whilst the film was a huge success it did create some controversy with some condemning it for its use of cross dressing and perceived homosexuality. It was a challenge to the censors and became instrumental in the eventual end of the Hay's Code.
Filled with witty lines, hilarious gaffes and an all star cast, Some Like It Hot, is truly a feel good film!


Thursday, 18 August 2016

Smashing Time (1967)

'We're going to have a Smashing Time' declare Yvonne (Lynn Redgrave) and Brenda (Rita Tushingham), two young women from the North, who have come to London to became rich and famous. However London  is not all that it seems and the girls have to battle terrible housing, amorous older men, the music industry, strange fashions and even stranger people!

Smashing Time was a spoof of Swinging London, the music, models, fashion, colour and psychedelia. Yvonne eventually becomes a singer (despite the fact she can't sing) and her only song becomes a huge hit, whilst Brenda becomes a model (and showcases some moves reminiscent of Julie Christie in Darling). Before this Brenda gets a job in a boutique, 'Too Much', where she makes the mistake of actually selling the items. The owner of the shop doesn't want anything to be sold, she just wants her shop to be a place for the 'cool kids' to hang out. One of the cleverer sequences involves a spoof of 'Candid Camera', entitled 'You Can't Help Laughing'. People genuinely have terrible things happen to them, but as they receive a prize all is forgiven, despite lingering questions from the audience. When Yvonne walks down Carnaby St everyone is having their photo taken, as she does, but with less than great results. The Beatles, Twiggy and David Bailey are all spoofed in the film as is the 60s penchant for wearing wigs, second hand clothes shopping and experimental art exhibitions.

The film has some rather chaotic sequences, including two very drawn out food fights that don't really seem to serve a purpose. At one stage Brenda attends an art exhibition showcasing crazy robots made by a mad scientist. This scientist was played by Bruce Lacey, who really was something of a mad scientist, but is best known as George's flute playing gardener in The Beatles film Help! The film also features cameos from Tushingham's A Taste of Honey co-stars, Murray Melvin and Paul Danquah. It did poorly at the box office, some claiming because the 'fad' of Swinging London was coming to an end, but today it remains a time capsule of the colour and craziness of the time.

Sometimes the film feels as if it is trying too hard to be funny, other times the funniness comes at unexpected moments. The ending happens too quickly, the girls discover that everyone is shallow, they rekindle their friendship and decided to return home (all in the space of 5mins). Still despite its flaws it is a fun film and makes you want to time travel back to the 60s!


Saturday, 6 August 2016

Summer Reading Challenge: The Hustler

The Hustler by Walter Tevis tells the story of 'Fast' Eddie Felson, a young, talented pool hustler. After losing to the famous, Minnesota Fats, in a forty hour game of pool Eddie has to revaluate his life as well as raise enough money for a rematch. He takes up with the alcholic, Sarah, who he moves in with and begins playing in smaller pool halls.  A man called Bert becomes his manager and begins to train Eddie for the rematch with Minnesota Fats. The novel published in 1959 was made into a film starring Paul Newman in 1961.

Tevis' novel is fast paced, easy to read, but realistic and gritty. His characters are complicated and full of conflicting emotions. The pool scenes are particularly tense but even if you don't know anything about pool (as I don't!) Tevis makes them entertaining. His style of writing is reminiscent of Ernest Hemingway and blends world weariness with questioning, often poetic statements.

"there seemed to be no longer a range of sensitivity to his vision. He felt he could see in the dark or could stare at the sun-the brightest sun at full noon-and stare it out of the sky" p. 45

 “He liked brains, and he admired people who read books. He had read a few himself” p. 64

“Then, suddenly, she turned and began limping back, slowly. For a moment he felt as if he could not breathe” p. 68

For the most part the film follows the book very closely (minus a few small differences), the biggest difference is that in the novel Sarah doesn't die, she doesn't even go with Eddie to Kentucky. They simply part in a way characteristic of their entire relationship, neither one fully able to commit to the other. Her death in the film changes the atmosphere of several scenes, Eddie's game with Findlay becomes less victorious, Bert becomes even more of a villain and Sarah's choices are more complex. Sarah's suicide in the film also gives Eddie's final victory even more weight.
The casting of the film was also excellent-Paul Newman is perfect as Eddie portraying the right mixture of arrogance, confusion, talent and like-ability. Piper Laurie is also well cast as Sarah, world-weary and vulnerable. Shot in back and white the film perfectly sets the scene of the novel, the seedy pool rooms, the bus stop, the dark streets and the variety of characters Eddie encounters along the way.

"The cigarette tasted like tar…’What did you give me, ‘ he said, ‘marijuana?’
She smiled the faint smile again. ‘They’re French.’
‘What for?’
She seemed to think a moment. ‘I don’t know,’ she said, ‘to impress my friends, probably.’ 
It was a peculiar answer, but sufficient” p. 54

The Hustler is a fascinating novel, a look at mans ability to win and lose and how their natural talent and arrogance create these outcomes. Tevis creates memorable characters and atmospheric settings, it is a novel well worth reading, and one that I think should be talked about more often. 

Friday, 22 July 2016

Happy Birthday Terence Stamp!

Wishing a very Happy Birthday to this guy! A great favourite of mine, Terence Stamp turns 78 today. I hope he's having a good one!

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Happy Birthday Natalie Wood!

Today was the birthday of Natalie Wood. So a very Happy Birthday to this precious soul.
Natalie is such an inspiration to me, she worked hard and always strove to do her best even when her life was not easy. She was vivacious, kind, talented and warm. For fans she remains, spirited Judy, lovely Maria, an actress they watched grow from a little girl into a beautiful woman. For us it is a treasure that she left such a fascinating body of work and was such a genuine, beautiful soul.

"I was always a lot tougher than what most people thought"
-Natalie wood

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Cathy Come Home (1966)

Broadcast on the 16th of November 1966, Cathy Come Home was part of an anthology series called The Wednesday Play, TV films that often dealt with issues affecting the wider British public. Cathy (Carol White) and Reg (Ray Brooks) are a young married couple and their life is initially good. However when Reg loses his job after an accident they are evicted from their apartment. With little money and three young children they are forced to seek shelter with relatives, and are eventually forced to live in a caravan, squat in run down houses and are finally forced into a halfway house for the homeless. Unable to find a job Reg abandons his family and Cathy is forced to watch in agony as her children are taken away by social services.

Directed by Ken Loach Cathy Come Home was watched by 12 million people on it's original broadcast. It put the issues of homelessness to the forefront of people's minds, addressing a subject that was previously seen as taboo. The following year a charity, 'Crisis', was formed as a direct response to the show. The film also caused a review in the practice of separating wives from their husbands when in homeless shelters. Written by Jeremy Sandford, whose real life dealings with the homeless had inspired the screenplay, the film was shot realistically, shot on location, with many scenes unrehearsed. Sean and Steven (Cathy's sons) were played by Carol White's real sons of the same names. Loach admitted that White was unaware of what would happen in the final scene, making her reactions all the more genuine.

Filmed in a gritty, documentary style the film used extensive use of voice over narration, as different characters described their lives in the squalid conditions they found themselves in. The film is both humanising and harrowing, Cathy's helplessness is heartbreaking, and she pays the ultimate price for something that was not her fault. The film is an expose of the system, the cruelty of those in charge and the shocking conditions that many Britons were forced to live in. At the end of the film it states that in the years following the war Germany had built more houses for its expanding population than Britain. The film had such an impact that for years afterwards people would try and give Carol White money, believing she really was homeless. In 2000 the BFI voted it the second greatest British television program of the twentieth century.


Monday, 4 July 2016

Happy Birthday Eva Marie Saint

Wishing a very Happy Birthday to the wonderful Eva Marie Saint who turns 92 today! May she grace us with her presence for many more years to come. I highly recommend watching her in On the Waterfront and North by North West. 

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Summer Reading Challenge: Double Feature

Double Feature is the third in a series of autobiographies by Terence Stamp (and the last in chronological order). It deals with his life in the sixties, his growing fame after his film debut, Billy Budd, his relationship with model Jean Shrimpton and his experiments with drugs and mysticism.

The book is sectioned into three parts which Stamp labels as, It Begins, The Great Middle and An End and a Beginning. But they could also be classified as 'Before Jean', 'With Jean' and 'After Jean'. Their relationship is at the heart of the book. There is an element of coldness to Jean that even Stamp couldn't hide with his loving words. He always seemed to love her more than she loved him. Stamp describes the relationship beautifully though and she was very much the love of his life.

"She would sleep in my arms like a creature from an ancient forest. Turning in the night I would stir, her perfume reaching into my subconscious, and I'd become aware of our breath in unison. If I traced the outline of her delicate shoulder with the inside of my wrist I didn't know where her skin ended and mine began; often, in that dark closeness the layer of separation between us would dissolve and I would be her" p. 140

"Mornings, I would drive us down Fountain to Gower, kiss goodbye and wait for her long-fingered wave as she cornered on to Sunset. After work I could hardly wait to get out of costume and run across the street to the little parking lot where she would be waiting in the car, head lowered over a magazine, her hair tumbling about her face. As I neared she would look up, and every day I gasped at the perfection of her" p. 134

Following their separation Stamp suffered a breakdown and in his depression turned to marijuana to ease his sadness. He formed close friendships with the cast of Blue and also began looking at different forms of mysticism, eventually deciding to travel to India, where he was to spend time in an ashram. Essentially however much of Stamp's searching in the final part of the book is because of Jean, and the hole she left within him which he continually tried to fill throughout his life. Stamp is honest and sensitive and never tries to cover up his own flaws and failings. What was supposed to be the best time of his life was also the worst.

"sometime around three or four a.m. I woke up, realised I was on my own in our bed and felt inconsolable. I searched my dressing-room for the only article of hers I possessed, the famous lavender jumper with the snag on the shoulder…I found the sweater, now paper-thin, rolled it into a ball and held it beside me on the pillow. In the blackness, that moment when the spirit is at its lowest ebb, I inhaled the faint memory, imagining her astral body lying beside me. In the morning I was ashamed and buried the woolly at the bottom of my chest of drawers, but neither it nor I was allowed to sleep in peace" p. 291

Stamp touches briefly on all the films he starred in during the sixties (except for Poor Cow). His initial nerves in Billy Budd, the tense atmosphere on the set of Far from the Madding Crowd, the difficulties faced on Modesty Blaise and his unique experiences with the Italian directors, Fellini and Pasolini. Stamp worked with some of the most famous actors of the day including, Peter Ustinov, Laurence Olivier, Monica Vitti, Julie Christie, Peter Finch and Karl Malden. As well as directors such as William Wyler, John Schlesinger and Ken Loach.

Stamp's story is often heartbreaking but it is a fascinating look at the era and a wonderful yet also tragic  love story between two of the biggest stars of the decade. Stamp's attempts to rebuild his life are sometimes painful to read and I think his friend Peggy Lipton described him best when she asked,
"You're the lost boy, aren't you?" p. 236
Yet he remains likeable and sweet and I think the final word should be given to him:
"Sometimes, driving aimlessly, even asleep in dream, I find myself taking the turn off Sunset Boulevard heading south on San Diego freeway, towards L.A Airport, on my way to meet the flight that brought her to me. With a start, I realise it's only a play of shadows falling on the mind, and ashes of memory dry in my mouth. I feel the chasm open in my chest. It is there, the heart concealed within the heart, an emptiness inside me that mourns, that seeps darkness into my daily existence. I grope towards the ache I've buried alive which constantly smoulders, in the hope of sealing up the ancient state, but it won't forget the moment it glowed and longs to be rekindled. To be warm. To come home. The very own dark star that leads me on, that takes me to far-flung dusty corners. Watching. Listening." p. 336


Saturday, 2 July 2016

Rest in Peace Bud Spencer

Carlo Pedersoli (Bud Spencer)

We lost the indomitable actor Bud Spencer on Monday at the age of 86. Rest in peace Bud and thank you for the laughter and joy you gave to the world. He was a man of many talents, acting, swimming, singing, writing, politics, the list goes on, but he was also a gentle soul and an honest man. He will be missed.
Originally published on my blog: http://dearterencehill.blogspot.com.au 

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Summer Reading Challenge: Natalie Wood

Rebecca Sullivan's Natalie Wood is a part of a series produced by the BFI on film stars. The book is not a biography rather it is an analytical look at some of Wood's best known films and how they, and her, fitted into the changing sexual, racial, and feminist roles of the 40s-80s.

Sullivan begins by talking about two of Natalie's early films, Tomorrow is Forever and Miracle on 34th Street. She argues that as a child Natalie was something of a 'child-women' with a maturity and knowledge beyond her years, which made her a less mercurial child star than Shirley Temple. The book then deals with the sexual and racial aspects of such films as, Rebel Without a Cause, Splendor in the Grass, Kings go Forth, All the Fine Young Cannibals, West Side Story, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, Inside Daisy Clover and The Last Married Couple in America. Sullivan believes that many of Natalie's roles begin with sexual rebellion but then end up with her character fitting into the socially accepted roles of young women in middle class America.

"her performances in Rebel Without a Cause and Splendor in the Grass remain exemplars of American womanhood on the cusp of sexual revolution and suggest an imperfect, hesitant but nonetheless crucial moment in Hollywood's attempt to deal with radical and sexual upheaval" p. 66

Sullivan discuses Natalie's frequent schism between wanting to be a 'serious actress' and wanting to be a 'hollywood star'. In many ways these two aspects of herself were never reconciled.

"This tossing between past and future, contentment and restlessness speaks to how she more than anyone else expressed women's ongoing conflicts to find their rightful place in post-studio American cinema" p. 129

"Wood often commented in the press on her desire to play rolls that meshed with her own experiences, sometimes to the point of losing sight of where her identity ended and the character's began" p. 37

My only critique of the book would be that whilst Sullivan claims to want to reassess and establish Wood as a major and important part of American culture and cinema, she often seems to side with the criticism that she allegedly seeks to rewrite. Sullivan makes frequent references to Wood's limitations as an actress, some of which I personally disagree with. Perhaps being a fan I have a biased view, but I have always found Natalie to be a strong actress in even the most uninspiring of film roles. She rises above the script and no matter what role connects with her audience. I was also surprised that Sullivan didn't write about Love with the Proper Stranger, a film which, surely marked a transition in American cinema?

It is wonderful to have another book about Natalie, and it was fascinating to learn more about her film roles and the part they played in the changing face of America in the post war period. I also loved how the book dealt with films from all stages of her career, from her childhood, to some of her final roles. It also reinforced how important an actress Natalie was for young women, and how she continues to have an impact to this day.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Summer Reading Challenge: Bendigo Art Gallery & Twentieth Century Fox Present Marilyn Monroe

Bendigo Art Gallery & Twentieth Century Fox Present Marilyn Monroe is the accompanying book for the exhibit currently being held at the Bendigo Art Gallery. The book features information about the exhibition, how the gallery was loaned several of the pieces and information about the gallery's relationship with Twentieth Century Fox. It also features two excellent articles written by exhibition curator Tansy Curtin and Dr Susan Gillett of La Trobe University, a timeline of important events in Marilyn's life, a list of artefacts found in the exhibition and several stunning photographs of Marilyn herself.

In her piece titled 'Understanding Marilyn' Tansy Curtin looks at the role Marilyn's clothes and personal effects play in our understudying of her as a person. She explains how Marilyn's belongings where held in storage by her friends the Strasberg's until 1999 when several of them were auctioned off at Christies, sparking mania from Marilyn fans. A further auction was held in 2005. It is often sad to read about how some of her gowns, such as the famous one she wore to President Kennedy's birthday, have been bought by private collectors and have not been seen since their auction. Also interesting is Curtin's explanation of how the studio system frequently altered gowns for other stars. Marilyn's famous gold lamé gown was later worn by Jayne Mansfield and had to be altered to accommodate her larger bust. Marilyn's personal wardrobe on the other hand was understated and classic, a further schism between her created personality 'Marilyn Monroe' and her previous self, Norma Jeane.

Dr Susan Gillett's piece is titled, 'The Making of Marilyn Monroe', it deals with the differing public and private personas of Marilyn, her use of her femininity and sexuality, and the way in which she subtly subverted the chauvinism of the studio system.
The age in which Marilyn rose to fame was one dominated by the 'male gaze' and Marilyn especially was seen as a sex object and little more by the studio heads.
"The man is the actor, the active one; the woman is the spectacle, the fetishised sex object" p. 59

Marilyn however wanted greater, more human, roles and she was well aware of the way the public viewed her, she subtly added touches of knowing and humanity to the frequent show girl roles she played:
"Marilyn's genius as an actor is to work this line between parody and naturalism, knowing and not-knowing, giving and withholding, being the object par excellence and hinting that there is so much more than meets the eye" p. 60

"Both on and off the screen she was the object who did what an object is not meant to do: she exposed the double edge of men's glorification of the female body, discomforted their authority and entitlement, and- even worse- she demanded to mean more than they wanted her to" p. 65

Overall this is a great little book which is both the perfect companion to the exhibition and a fascinating book on its own. It is both respectful and insightful and definitely makes me want to read more about Marilyn.