All Things Marilyn
Season 1, Episode 3: Blonde | Likes, Dislikes, and Fact vs. Fiction (CLICK TO LISTEN)
Trigger Warning: In this podcast, issues of rape, sexual violence and abuse, abortion and other topics of a sensitive nature are discussed.
All Things Marilyn hosts Scott Fortner and Elisa Jordan share their thoughts and feedback on the new Netflix film Blonde, a fictional story based on the Joyce Carol Oates novel of the same name.
What did we like? What did we dislike? What’s true and what’s fiction?
Tune in to find out all the details.
Scott: Hey everyone. Thanks so much for tuning in. My name is Scott Fortner, Marilyn Monroe historian and collector, and owner of the Marilyn Monroe Collection.
Elisa: I am Elisa Jordan, founder of LA Woman Tours. I am also a Marilyn historian. Welcome to our first episode of All Things Marilyn.
Scott: So … Blonde …
Scott: We are here today to discuss Blonde. We’re gonna talk about what we liked, what we didn’t like. We’re also gonna go through and really make those distinctions between what is fact and what is fiction. And before we get started, I think that there’s something that is really important to cover and to clarify and everybody needs to remember that this a novel written by Joyce Carol Oats, which was published in 2000.
It is a creation from her mind. It is based loosely on the life of Marilyn Monroe. They’ve recreated many aspects of Marilyn’s life—occurrences, events, activities, actions in her mind, and has applied those as an overlay to the life of Marilyn Monroe. And the issue that’s of concern is that many people will see this film on Netflix and think that it actually was the true-life story of Marilyn Monroe, and there was no disclaimer in the film.
Unlike the book, which did have a disclaimer, which read, “Blonde is a work of fiction. While many of the characters portrayed here have some counterparts in the life and times of Marilyn Monroe, the characterizations and incidents presented are totally the product of the author’s imagination. Accordingly, Blonde should be read solely as a work of fiction, not as a biography of Marilyn Monroe.” This applies to the film, as well.
Elisa: I have wondered why someone of Joyce Carol Oates’s caliber chose Marilyn as a subject. I have a background in literature. Now, when I studied literature, it was older literature. Joyce Carol Oates is one of America’s greatest living authors. She’s very prolific, very respected. And I have never really understood why she chose Marilyn as a subject, but I listened to an interview with her recently and she said that Blonde is one of her personal favorites when it comes to her own work. So, this is something that was very important to her. Recently, I pulled up a New Yorker article by Elaine Showalter, I hope I’m pronouncing that correctly.
The New Yorker is one of the most respected magazines in the United States. And she says that Blonde is the definitive study of American celebrity. This article has been repurposed and is now the prologue to the current printing of Blonde, the novel. These are women who call themselves feminists and seem to picture Marilyn as some sort of emblem of celebrity in the 20th century, that is the jumping off point.
Scott: Yeah, I think you said something there that’s pivotal. That’s part of this conversation. It’s a story about celebrity. It’s not a story about Marilyn. So, they’ve used Marilyn’s life and stories as a springboard to create an entirely different character that mimics Marilyn in style in communication, when in fact, it actually is not the story of Marilyn Monroe.
If you take anything away from this episode of All Things Marilyn, never forget the fact that Blonde is fiction. It is not Marilyn Monroe’s true story. Period.
Elisa: I’d like to read this quote from Joyce Carol Oates because she is so respected and she is an amazing writer, and I think this will give us a little bit of insight into how she views her work. I got this from Masterclass, which I subscribe to. “I’ve always felt that art is the highest expression of the human spirit, and art is the way that we communicate with one another, but that instinct to transcend the particular and the finite and to reach for something universal that speaks to people across generations. I think that is the instinct for all kinds of art.” I certainly agree with her on that. That’s how I view art and literature. I have a tremendous amount of respect, but there is a but when it comes to Blonde.
Scott: Let’s dive in. What we liked, what we didn’t like and the clarification of what’s fact and what’s fiction. So, I wanna clarify, Elisa and I have not compared notes. We’ve not had discussions prior to the podcast. Today we are diving in head first with no knowledge of each other’s opinions. What did you like about Blonde?
Elisa: There were several things that I liked. I felt like the look of the movie was an A+. The costumes were incredible. They fit the actors perfectly. Some of the recreations in the movie were outstanding. We see Marilyn in Niagara. We see Marilyn in Don’t Bother to Knock and All About Eve.
And they even went to some detail with All About Eve and Some Like it Hot to use the actual footage from the movies. And then they imposed the actress into those scenes. So, it looked very authentic and the technology was incredible. I felt they did a great job with the sets. They made you feel like you were in the correct era. And that is about where my praise ends. But I will say those things were outstanding.
Scott: They were outstanding and I agree with you particularly when it comes to the costumes. I think that the way that they replicated Marilyn’s personal style and some of her film costumes was really exceptional. And they captured that really superbly. Although the use of the costume from Something’s Got to Give is misplaced in the storyline. Of course, Something’s Got to Give is from 1962, her final uncompleted film. Yet they show her wearing the costume in scenes with Arthur Miller and they divorced in 1961. There’s no possible way that she could have been wearing the costume from Something’s Got to Give from 1962 when she was married to Arthur Miller.
Elisa: You just pulled a thread there and I didn’t mean that to be a pun because you’re talking about one of her dresses. But you just hit on something that is through the entire movie, which is they go to a lot of trouble to recreate some of her outfits or some photos of her, some actual photos of her, and then they create an entire scenario around it. Something similar to what you’re saying with Something’s Got to Give and it’s worn in a completely different era—it shows Marilyn walking into a perfect replica of the house where she lived in 1956 in Los Angeles when she was filming Bus Stop, and she shared that home with her business partner, Milton Green and his family, his wife, Amy, and son Joshua. And she walks through those doors and into the home of Arthur Miller when she’s married to Arthur.
So again, exact replica. It could not be more perfect and then completely wrong era, completely wrong part of the country, the people who live there are incorrect. They did a lot of research and went to a lot of time and expense to recreate certain elements of Marilyn’s life, and then disregarded the research when it came to the actual story. We see great recreations of Marilyn from specific photos, of photos of her at the Actors Studio or of …
Scott: modeling pictures.
Elisa: … modeling, when she is out and about in New York. But then they make up false stories around what is going on in those pictures. So, in my mind, what we’re seeing is they’re trying to create a sense of realism and authenticity so that you believe it’s Marilyn and her life. And then when you point out, but hey, that’s not what happened, the filmmakers say, “Oh, but it’s fiction.”
Elisa: I feel like they’re using that as both a shield and a sword. It’s not fiction, so we can use this as an emblem of studying celebrity and Marilyn Monroe, but we’re basing it in realism, but it’s not real. Oh. But it’s fiction! So, I feel like they’re trying to have it both ways.
Scott: In my review of Blonde that I just posted last night, which is on my website at marilynmonroecollection.com, I pointed out that they’ve blurred the lines between fact and fiction, just enough for the public to not have a true or real concept or understanding of Marilyn’s actual life. They just really are straddling those events and activities and occurrences in Marilyn’s real life with these other false stories. I think a lot of people will finally realize and come to the conclusion that, yeah, they’re using Marilyn to represent celebrity in the era of when she was really struggling to become an actress, and then she finally made it, and then all of these other things are happening and she’s being used and she’s being exploited.
At the same time, the people that put this production together are using and exploiting Marilyn for their own benefit, for their own purpose. I’m not even sure that [Andrew] Dominik, the director, likes Marilyn,
Elisa: Oh, I’m certain he doesn’t.
Scott: Right, in an interview, he basically was referring to the characters that Jane Russell and Marilyn portrayed in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes as well-dressed whores.
And I think, for me, it’s all about shock value. We’ve really drifted into what we don’t like about the film without even saying that we’re going into that phase of our discussion or review. But I think it’s easy to do that because that’s about all I like from the film.
Elisa: Andrew Dominik said something about he had done a lot of research into Marilyn and then ended up not using it.
Scott: No, I wanna portray her in a very specific, negative way. And I think when we talk about the production of the film and the direction of the film, I thought it was embarrassing. I wrote in my review that it really came off to me like an end of term project for a film class where a bunch of high school boys put something together and came up with all these utterly ridiculous metaphors. The scene where she’s having sex with Kennedy in a hotel room, and as he finishes, there’s a rocket launching. It’s just it’s embarrassing.
Elisa: In case you haven’t seen it, there is a scene where Marilyn’s pretty much kidnapped by Secret Service agents …
Scott: From an airplane.
Elisa: Yeah. And brought to an unnamed president who is in a back brace and has a very thick Massachusetts accent. So of course, who could it be? And she is forced to perform oral sex on him. And then after his completion, he sexually assaults her and it’s a very disturbing scene. It did not happen, and I have some concerns about this. For one, the way it makes Marilyn look and the way it makes President Kennedy look.
Elisa: Because it didn’t happen. The only reason it’s there is for entertainment purposes.
Scott: Shock value.
Elisa: And shock value. And I realize when you’re telling a story, you need certain dramatic elements, but when you are trying to present someone who really lived, and even if you’re saying it’s fiction, you’re using sexual violence, which is every woman’s worst fear I would think, and turning it into a piece of entertainment. And I have a problem with that. I have a big problem with that. Also, it is a single vignette. The movie is a series of vignettes where Marilyn comes into a room, she looks doe eyed and sad and confused. Something happens to her and she cries.
There’s no real plot, and this is where my literature training comes out again, so forgive me if I’m sounding pretentious or anything. In addition to my problems with the facts about Marilyn’s life, I don’t think it’s a very good movie. What you were saying about it comes across as a school project for me, the movie has no point of view. It can’t decide what it wants to be. It switches back and forth between color and black and white. And if it were more clear what they were switching between, like if we were showing Marilyn in childhood and that was black and white, that would make sense. But sometimes we’re in black and white and I don’t know why we’re in black and white. And then sometimes the color changes. Sometimes it looks like regular color and sometimes it looks like Technicolor. And I was trying to figure out, okay, what are they trying to say here? I don’t know what point they’re making.
There was a lack of structure that really bothered me, and I think this is where people are starting to come in and just say, “This is abuse porn.” It’s just one scene after another of abuse. The way structure and story arcs work, you start off with an introduction or an exposition, and then you have what’s called rising action. And these are the incidents that push the story forward and lead to the climax of the story or the turning point of the story. This is where the character needs to deal with whatever is going on in the story. And then we have what’s called the descending action or the falling action, and the character begins to wrap up the story and then we finally have the resolution. And I didn’t see any of that in this story.
Scott: It was two hours and 47 minutes. That, to me, felt like two years, and I had to fight every impulse and urge to just turn it off, but I couldn’t because I couldn’t really do a review on a film that I hadn’t seen. I had to force myself to watch it. It had no message. It had no purpose other than to victimize Marilyn and portray her as a woman devoid of any happiness or fulfillment. I thought it was a ridiculous film. I actually laughed out loud several times during the movie because there were so many things that were so utterly ridiculous, like the rocket lunch on television in the hotel room when she was with Kennedy. And for those who’ve not seen it, the scene is graphic. It is not implied that Marilyn is performing oral sex on the president. It shows her performing oral sex on the president.
Other scenes that I thought were just ridiculous, Marilyn’s laying on the bed with Charlie Chaplin Jr. and [Edward G.] Robinson Jr. and as she’s laying her head on the edge of the bed and the white sheets turn into water flowing over Niagara Falls. And I just thought, symbolism in a film like that to me is not intended to be so obvious. You really need to be thinking, What does that mean?
I hearken back to Schindler’s List and that scene of the little girl in the red coat. That’s an entirely black and white film and you have a little girl in a red coat and you really have to sit and process. Okay, why is that in the film? What does that mean? And you think about it, but you remember. It has an impact.
There’s nothing in this film that had an impact in that way other than how grotesque and disturbing the overall film was, just in general. I liked very little about it.
Elisa: I think what you’re talking about goes back to the point of view. Sometimes it’s dreamy and symbolic and other times it’s stark reality. When you’re creating a work of art, you have to create a world, but you have to stick to the rules of that world, or it doesn’t exist or it doesn’t work. And I think that’s what’s going on here, and there’s no character development. There’s no turning point in the structure of the story, and you have to know a little bit about Marilyn for any of this to make sense. I had a friend who texted me and he was starting to watch it and he wanted to know if it was true that she was in a throuple with Chaplin and Robinson, and I said, “No, she wasn’t.” And then he finally texted me back and said, “I’m turning this off because it doesn’t even make sense to me. It’s confusing.” He doesn’t know a lot about Marilyn.
Scott: And it’s also so ridiculous because, you know what I’m hoping is that the general public is gonna see this and go, “Oh my God, was this really her life? Was it actually this horrible?”
I was at an event on Saturday where I happened to be wearing a Marilyn T-shirt. And somebody come up to me and said, “Wow, did you see the film Blonde?” And I said, “I did.” And I said, “Did you?” And he goes, “Yeah, I’m so disturbed. I had no idea what Marilyn’s life was like.” He goes, “I was so bothered and felt so bad for her. I prayed for her.” And I said, “Let’s talk a minute about Blonde. That’s not Marilyn Monroe’s true story.” And he felt so much better and relieved after our conversation. But, that’s the biggest fear is that people are gonna watch this film, who do watch it all the way through and think that was the true story of Marilyn’s life when in actuality it really wasn’t.
The thing, Elisa, that bothered me the most, which I just can’t fathom or process, is the fact that they filmed in Marilyn’s house and in her bedroom, the same bedroom that Marilyn took her last breath in. I just think that they took such liberties and they tried so hard in the wrong direction, starting filming the production on August 4th, going to Marilyn’s crypt and leaving a card with messages from the cast and crew and, as Ana de Armas said, in a way asking for permission to do the project. And in my mind, I’m thinking, Okay, you’re going to Marilyn Monroe asking for permission to portray her in a film where she’s raped. Her mother attempts to drown her in a bathtub. She’s performing oral sex on the president. She’s having public sex and a film theater with two men, all of these incredible stories, multiple abortions, all of these types of things. And you actually think it’s okay to go to Marilyn and ask if she’s gonna give a blessing to do this project.
Elisa: For those of you who are less familiar with Marilyn, this is a woman whose image was very important to her. And by image I don’t mean red lipstick and blonde hair, although yes, she did put a lot of effort into that. But she would tell reporters, “Please quote me right. Please tell them what I believe.” Coming across as truthful and authentic was very important to Marilyn. So, using her as this “emblem of celebrity” takes that away from her.
Scott: It’s very disrespectful to her dignity and in spite of some of the characters that she played in her role, she actually was a very dignified individual. She cared about how she presented herself. She was very thoughtful in her responses. If you listen to some of her interviews on YouTube, you can get a true sense of how she actually was the final interview with Richard Merryman. She really talks about what it was like to be famous and how she felt she was being treated. So if you wanna hear from Marilyn’s own perspective about how she felt she was being used and exploited, go to YouTube and look up Marilyn Monroe, Richard Merryman interview, and you’ll be able to hear directly from her how she felt about how she was being treated by the studio and how they were using her and not taking her seriously and not respecting her.
Elisa: Part of that desire to be taken seriously is why it makes it so hurtful when you see images of Marilyn in this movie. Going back to the scene with the president, after the sexual assault, she gets up and she goes into the bathroom and you see her sitting on a toilet and urinating and she’s wincing in pain. It signifies that she has been injured, of course, during the assault, but also, women usually need to urinate after sex so that they don’t get an infection. Also, there is a scene where she throws up and the camera angle is looking at the bottom of the toilet up so we see the vomit coming into the toilet.
There are gynecological scenes where we see a point of view from Marilyn’s vagina and I don’t understand how that adds to the development of the movie, other than to just show a woman’s vagina, the most vulnerable part of a woman, literally.
Scott: Well, and if you apply that to Marilyn from a medical sense, a medical perspective, she had significant challenges with her reproductive system. She suffered from endometriosis. She was pregnant and was never able to carry a baby to full term. These things, I think if she were around today, she would literally be horrified that they were portraying her from this perspective in this film. I think the fans were horrified, but imagine being the woman that was the topic of the film. And I don’t care how it’s presented, people are gonna look at it as it was Marilyn Monroe, it’s being presented as it was Marilyn Monroe. We can say it was fiction all we want, but the truth is this is how they’re presenting it.
And so people are gonna walk away with that. I think Marilyn would be horrified.
Elisa: I think any woman would be horrified. Who wants to be pictured sitting on a toilet?
Scott: Yes, I agree a hundred percent. Back to the bedroom—Ana de Armas, they filmed a scene where Ana is actually in the same position in bed in which Marilyn was found discovered after she’d passed away. I think that the average fan, or certainly those who are not as familiar with Marilyn as super fans, but in general, the photograph where there’s a policeman pointing to the array of pills on Marilyn’s nightstand is actually a crop from a larger photo. That larger photo actually shows Marilyn, and a lot of people don’t know that photo exists, but it is out there. And for this film, they recreated that photo in Marilyn’s actual bedroom. And it’s not Ana portraying Marilyn where Marilyn’s passed away. She gets up out of bed from this pose.
But the fact remains they’ve recreated the bedroom. Exactly. They have recreated the actual pose that Marilyn was in when she took her last breath, and I just think that is pointless. I think it is all for shock value. And I think it’s just beyond disrespectful and I have such a hard time reconciling in my mind how people can say, “We knew that we were doing something very important and we knew we had to do it the right way.”
I just can’t help but wonder why didn’t the people responsible for Blonde think about putting the budget, the resources, the effort into doing an actual biopic for Marilyn, because you know what? Her life is interesting enough. There’s a reason that so many people are so fascinated by her and she’s such an icon.
They really could have told the true story of Marilyn Monroe and tried to set the record straight. With that said, we’re never gonna know everything that happened with Marilyn. There’s so many mysteries. There’s so many different stories. It’s 60 years since she passed away. There’s no question that she’s morphed into something today that she never was when she was alive.
But I think we have enough information and insight out there with information that a pretty authentic and accurate portrayal of her life could be presented in a positive way that really did show her accomplishments and her achievements.
Elisa: Going back to showing Marilyn in the house and those scenes we talked about with Charlie Chaplin Jr. and Edward G. Robinson Jr., and with the president, Ana de Armas, said something to the effect that she knew she was going to have to go to uncomfortable places to get closer to the truth.
And I think that’s a very respectable thing for an actor to say. However, I’m not sure how it applies to Blonde because they invented uncomfortable places for Ana to go, and it wasn’t the truth. So my concern is this actress took on a role that she was taking seriously clearly, but I almost feel like she was exploited herself. And I know the argument would be she accepted the role, and she did, but our friend Suzie Kennedy did a podcast and she said something that I really agreed with. She said that to her Blonde feels like a response to the MeToo movement. Not in a positive way, but almost as backlash, and I can see why she said that.
Scott: Joyce Carol Oates just wrote about that on her Twitter account saying that she was surprised at the commentary around exploitation in a post-MeToo movement. And my response to that is what was it [written] about 20 years ago, way before the MeToo movement.
All right, let’s move into factor fiction.
Scott: Attempting to drown young Norma Jeane in a bathtub, no record of that.
Elisa: There’s no record of that, and Gladys did not raise Marilyn. For those unfamiliar with the story, Gladys was a single mother. She placed her baby girl in the custody of neighbors of her mother, the Bolenders. At some point, the Bolenders wanted to adopt Norma Jeane, and Gladys decided now might be a good time to take custody of my daughter back.
It was too much for her. She had a breakdown. Mental illness did run in the family. She was diagnosed as schizophrenic. Yes, Gladys had a breakdown, but no, she did not try to kill her daughter, and that’s a really hard scene to watch.
Scott: It’s a very hard scene to watch, particularly when, you know you’re struggling for this little 5- or 6-year-old girl. You’re feeling this and just the audacity of all of it. But yet those of us more in the know that didn’t ever actually happen. Marilyn never wrote about her mother attempting to drown her.
It has been reported, but never confirmed by Marilyn or Joe, that there was physical abuse. There were people close to Marilyn, Whitey Snyder, the day after the subway scene was filmed, stating that he did see bruises that had to be covered. And, so as a story goes, Marilyn was filming the subway scene where the dress blew up around her waist in New York in September of 1954.
Joe DiMaggio was there. They were still married at the time. It was the beginning of the end of their relationship. He stormed off. He was very upset because of course, thousands of people around, many of them, hundreds of them photographers taking photographs. Marilyn’s skirt is blowing up and she’s exposing basically her underwear, which 1954 was …
Elisa: That was a big.
Scott: That was a big deal. The story goes that they got into a huge fight in their hotel room later that evening after filming completed. And some people have said that there was physical abuse. So that may be one incident where it is actually true. But, of course, it’s never been confirmed by either Joe or Marilyn that actually happened.
Elisa: And it shows Joe DiMaggio beating her when Cass, they call him Cass Chaplin, and Edward G. Robinson Jr. have what you and I know are early modeling photos of her where she’s topless. Those photos were taken by Earl Moran and he never published them because they were just reference photos because he was a pinup artist. In the movie, they recreate those photos and those two characters show them to Joe DiMaggio. He becomes very upset. He goes home and he beats his—I think they’re not married yet in that scene—and beats Marilyn. And what is so upsetting about that scene again is first of all, they’re recreating photos, completely changing the context and when Joe goes home to beat her—we don’t know if there was physical abuse. Second of all, she is topless.
Scott: When he enters the house, she’s topless.
Elisa: Again, going back to the term I’ve heard a few times, which is “abuse porn.” That is very much what came to mind in that scene as a big hulking, angry man beating on semi-nude woman.
Scott: And of course, there’s no evidence that those photos were used by those two individuals as blackmail, because that’s what they were attempting to do, was to blackmail Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio in the film paid for the photographs.
Elisa: So, none of that is true. It’s just an excuse to see Marilyn get beat up.
Scott: Exactly. So, on the topic of abortions in the film there are two scenes where she’s forced to have an abortion.
I think probably most of the viewers may know already that there were examples of the fetus actually speaking to Marilyn. There’s no documented evidence or proof that Marilyn had abortions. In fact, the opposite really is the case. The one thing that Marilyn really wanted was to be a mother.
We know that she was pregnant at least twice when she was married to Arthur Miller, and the first was an ectopic pregnancy. And the second she had a miscarriage right after filming Some Like it Hot in December 1958. Some people believe that she was pregnant during filming of The Prince and the Showgirl because she kind of looks like she’s pregnant in the costume, but there were times when she would have a little bit of a belly, but when she was filming Some Like it Hot, she was definitely pregnant with her husband Arthur Miller at the time. We know for sure she was pregnant with Miller. Twice for sure. But there’s no evidence of abortions.
Elisa: I feel like the abortion sequence was added to punish her in some way. It felt very moralizing, Oh, bad woman had an abortion and here’s why. And We’re gonna make her suffer by showing her agonizing over the decision and show her crying. And then she is going to get up off the table and run and then she’s going to really pay for it later when she’s pregnant and wants the baby.
And the baby is almost chastising her like, You’re not gonna kill me, are you? That kind of thing.
Scott: Yeah. There are just so many horrible, awful scenes in the film, and as you’ve already mentioned, there’s no plot, there’s no storyline, there’s no intent. You’re just literally floating from scene to scene. And it’s one horrific event after another. When is this gonna end and what’s the intent?
Again, there’s no evidence of a three-way relationship between Charlie Chaplin Jr. and Edward G. Robinson Jr., although Marilyn did date Chaplin Jr. for a short period of time, he actually writes about it in his biography.
Elisa: In the late forties she dated Charlie Chaplin Jr. He was very complimentary about her. He had nothing bad to say about her. It was probably just a brief relationship and they moved on.
Scott: They moved on. Exactly. There is no evidence of Marilyn ever being dragged off a plane by Secret Service and being taken to a hotel room to orally service President Kennedy.
Elisa: That’s a whole other episode, but there’s not a lot of evidence to put Marilyn in the same room with President Kennedy more than a couple of times anyway.
Scott: We know that there are two dinner parties. There’s the gala, where she performed. Prior to that, there is the meeting in Palm Springs, which is believed to be where Kennedy actually invited her to perform at the gala. At least that’s what’s reported.
Elisa: Then there’s also the April in Paris Ball in 1957. They were both at the ball, but there were hundreds of people, but I don’t think they met because there are no pictures of them together.
Scott: I was utterly disturbed at the portrayal of Marilyn while watching Niagara, and she’s with Robinson and Chaplin on either side of her, masturbating them.
Scott: And I’m just not gonna go any further than that because I think it’s just too grotesque and I don’t think that we need to go there. But let’s just say this scene involved Marilyn involved in public sex, in film theater, while other people were there watching the movie. It completely insults the dignity of the woman.
Elisa: It insults the dignity of those two men, as well.
Scott: I think Elisa, you just really touched on something that’s important for us to clarify. Everybody in the film, for the most part, was victimized: Kennedy, Robinson Jr., Chaplin Jr., Arthur Miller, portrayed by Adrian Brody. I think he’s probably the one that came out unscathed the most.
Elisa: That’s not saying a lot.
Scott: Not saying a lot. I actually really disliked his portrayal of Arthur Miller. I didn’t get it. I didn’t see Arthur Miller in what he did at all.
Elisa: Joe DiMaggio doesn’t come across great.
Scott: Exactly, the family and the relatives of these people have literally got to be fuming.
Elisa: People get into Marilyn’s husbands and if they were good husbands or not, and they completely cut out one husband, which was her first husband when she was a teenager. They were humans, too. They had good points and bad points to them, and I think this movie was terribly unfair to everyone, including Gladys.
Scott: And the film is just full of these little types of things where you’re just scratching your head going, Oh, I just don’t get that.
Final word on Blonde.
Elisa: Oh gosh, there’s so much more. The way they call her Norma through the whole movie, like she wasn’t going by Marilyn. This is a very bad film. I don’t like how Marilyn is portrayed. I don’t like what it says about not just Marilyn, but women in general. I think it’s very misogynistic. I think if Andrew Dominik had made a film like this about another group of people, he might not work in Hollywood again because it would just be seen as hateful.
Scott: And it’s exploitative.
Elisa: Yeah, Exploitive. And then there are just … it’s a poorly written film. It’s poorly conceived. It’s poorly written, and I don’t like it at all, and I can’t take credit for this—we have a mutual friend, April, who wrote a review on it. Andrew Dominik directed a movie several years ago called The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.
And the name of April’s review of this movie was “The Assassination of Marilyn Monroe by the Coward Andrew Dominik.” And it’s just so perfect and I wish I had thought of it. That pretty much sums it up for me.
Scott: People can get my thoughts on Blonde by going to my website and looking at the review. The title of mine is “The Victimization of Marilyn Monroe.” I think just my closing message again as we opened, just really remember that it’s fiction. It’s not the true story of Marilyn.
Elisa: There was a woman named Marilyn Monroe and that’s about where the truth stops.
Scott: Yeah. The story ends and starts the name Marilyn Monroe. And then it goes off into the deep depths of the mind of Joyce Carol Oates, and all of these incredible stories that she’s fabricated, which she’s acknowledged.
Elisa, your comments have been wonderful, insightful, and I hope our viewers have gotten a lot from what you’ve had to say and also my thoughts on the film.
We’d love to hear any feedback or thoughts on the podcast on this particular episode. Or if you’ve got ideas or suggestions for things that you’d like to hear about in future episodes, just drop us a line at AllThingsMarilynPodcast@gmail.com or message us on Instagram. Our account on Instagram is @AllThingsMarilynPodcast.
We will see you next time for All Things Marilyn.