Illustrative Photo: Vulture; Photos from Netflix and Bettmann/Contributor
Spoilers ahead for the plot Blond.
There are biopics that purport to present a mostly factual version of a person’s life (think walk the line). There are movies that are loosely inspired by one person’s life (think velvet gold mine). And then there’s blond.
Andrew Dominik’s film, based on the novel of the same name by Joyce Carol Oates, is about Marilyn Monroe, that much is clear, but it also plays extremely fast and loose with its historical details. The intention is to be an impressionistic portrait of the actress and icon, reflecting more on what she represented and how she suffered than who she really was as a person. How effective is that? Her experience may be different.
Some have argued that Dominik’s relentlessly tragic epic, starring Ana de Armas, places the onus on the viewer who revels in the pain of Monroe’s story. Others think he is punishing for no good reason, absorbing Monroe’s nuance in favor of his pain.
But which parts of the movie are actually based on the truth? And what is dramatic bloom? Some moments are obvious inventions, while others are based on complicated and messy myths about Monroe that have developed over time. Let’s break it down.
What did Monroe know about her father?
Throughout Dominik’s film, we see a photograph of Monroe’s supposed father, a handsome man she idolizes but remains elusive. The way she develops into blond it’s actually no different from what Monroe describes in her posthumously published memoir, co-written with Ben Hecht, my story. In the film, her unstable mother Gladys, played by Julianne Nicholson, points to a picture of her and says, “Norma Jeane, look, that man is your father,” telling her that he works at the same movie studio as her. . As a fire rages in the Hollywood Hills, Gladys leads her young daughter into the flames, telling the police that the girl’s father has a fireproof house that can protect them. Monroe’s truth is a bit more bitter: His mother told him that her father “died in a car accident in New York City,” but Monroe doubted it. Still, Monroe’s actual recollections of the picture echo what Dominik portrays: “He wore a slightly perky slouch hat on the side. There was a bright smile in his eyes and he had a thin mustache like Clark Gable.” (Noteworthy: in The Many Lives of Marilyn MonroeSarah Churchwell argues that Milton Greene, a photographer and friend of Monroe, could have taken liberties with the text in my story.)
According to Charles Casillo, who wrote the 2018 biography. Marilyn Monroe: the private life of a public icon, Monroe’s mother had an affair with her colleague, Charles Gifford, a recently divorced man. When Gifford found out that Gladys was pregnant, he wanted nothing to do with the baby and encouraged her to give him the last name of her ex-husband, Martin Edward Mortensen. Eventually, according to Casillo, Monroe tried to contact Gifford, but he rebuffed those advances. Another biographer, Donald Spoto, author of 1993’s Marilyn Monroe: biographyhe questions the claim that Gifford was Monroe’s father, but acknowledges that Gladys hung a picture of Gifford in her house.
Did Monroe call almost every man in her life “Dad”?
Dominic really he dwells on Monroe’s father’s problems whenever he gets the chance, most notably by having her refer to male authority figures in her life, including husbands Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller, as “Dad”. Now, there is some evidence that she used that word in that context. Yes, she sang the song “Everybody Needs a Da-Da-Daddy” in the 1948 movie. ladies of the choirthat Dominik displays in blond when Monroe enters the world of Hollywood and is immediately assaulted by a studio head who is supposed to be Darryl Zanuck. But she called her lovers her “dad”? Spoto quotes her first husband, James Dougherty, as saying that she did: “She called me ‘Dad.’ When she packed my lunch for work, there was often a note inside: ‘Dear Dad, When you read this, I’ll be sleeping and dreaming of you. Love and kisses, your baby.’” If that was really the case, perhaps she continued to use the term as a pet name, but that doesn’t make it seem any less childish when she repeats herself over and over in blond.
Did Monroe have a threesome with Edward G. Robinson Jr. and Charlie Chaplin Jr.?
this is where blond it really differs from the public record. As in the case of Oates’s novel, the film Monroe has a polyamorous tryst with two scions of Hollywood legends. They are credited only as Cass (Xavier Samuel) and Eddy (Evan Williams), but are identified as Charles Chaplin Jr. and Edward G. Robinson Jr. While these two men did exist, and Robinson was likely something akin to the troublemaker portrayed on screen — his relationship with Monroe is a complete work of fiction. Even the timeline doesn’t line up: near the end of blond, Eddy contacts Marilyn to inform her that Cass has died. Chaplin died six years after Monroe.
Did Monroe audition for the role of Magda in an Arthur Miller play?
The circumstances of how Monroe and her third husband, Miller, met are well documented, but blond throw it all away. In the film, she meets the playwright (Adrien Brody) while reading a work of fiction he wrote. She plays the role of Magda, based on a woman from the Playwright’s past, and impresses him with her understanding of the role and her knowledge of Chekhov. Actually: Miller and Monroe met when director Elia Kazan brought him to the set of as young as you feel, a film in which she co-starred, in 1951. According to Casillo and Spoto, Monroe was sexually involved with Kazan before being with Miller. She and Miller reconnected after she moved to New York, following her divorce from DiMaggio in 1955.
Did Monroe really pay less than Jane Russell for Gentlemen prefer blondes?
By all accounts, yes. In one of the few scenes of blond in which Monroe seems to assert herself, she is angry that Russell, who was on loan from a different studio, is being offered more money to star in Gentlemen prefer blondes. After all, she jokes, she it is the titular blonde. Russell was paid much more than Monroe: six figures, while Monroe received five, according to Spoto and Casillo. Casillo, however, argues that Monroe’s anger was not so much about her money as it was about the fact that the studio, 20th Century Fox, undervalued her to the point that they didn’t even give her her own private dressing room. she.
Did DiMaggio beat up Monroe after seeing her film her famous skirt scene in Itching seven years?
Unfortunately, probably yes. Monroe’s skirt billowing around her knees atop a subway grate is the most enduring image of her, but the seven years of itchingThe director of Billy Wilder, remembered in the book by Cameron Crowe Conversations with Wilder that “every time her dress exploded, [DiMaggio] walked away.” The next day, she came to work with bruises that had to be covered.
Did Monroe really hate working at some like it hot?
In blondMonroe is in the throes of a nervous breakdown while playing goofy cabaret singer Sugar in some like it hot, also directed by Wilder. In the context of the film, her role is a burden to her, to the point that she cuts her face with her own fingernails on the set. According to Wilder, Monroe was worried about the production, but she did not mutilate herself in front of the entire cast and crew. She was often late and asked for many takes to get her performance right. Wilder told Crowe that he was upset when she didn’t show up, but “I waited for her and swallowed my pride.” He added, “But if she showed up, she delivered, and if she took eighty takes, I lived on eighty takes, because the eighty-first was so good.” The crazy of her in blond happens while filming the musical number “I Wanna Be Loved by You”. Wilder, for his part, recalled that filming that scene “was pretty easy.”
Did Monroe have multiple abortions?
Dominik has an almost sadistic interest in documenting the abortions Monroe in the film has, one after becoming pregnant with Cass or Eddy’s child and the other during her affair with President John F. Kennedy. She even films from inside the vagina, opened by a speculum.
Of course, there’s no way of knowing for sure how many abortions Monroe had or if she had any, not that that’s stopped the speculation. in his book Marilyn: Norma Jeane, Gloria Steinem was convinced that Monroe had undergone a “dozen or more” abortions despite the lack of historical records. “One can imagine her sacrificing contraception and her own safety for the spontaneity, magic and sexual satisfaction of the man she was with,” she wrote Steinem. That last sentence involves a lot of guesswork, but it’s not like abortions are rare in the heyday of Hollywood. At the same time, it’s important to remember that the one thing Dominik doesn’t portray is that Monroe probably had endometriosis, less scandalous but no less serious.
What about the blowjob?
One of the most horrible and commented scenes in blond finds a nearly incapacitated Monroe being dragged from a plane into a hotel room, where a man assumed to be JFK is lying on a bed. He is on the phone and barely paying attention to her as he coaxes her into giving him a blowjob.
According to Spoto, Monroe and Kennedy saw each other, at most, only four times. There is only one photo of them together: at an after party Kennedy Event at Madison Square Garden where she sang “Happy Birthday” to him. Did they ever have sex? There’s only one hint that they might have: Monroe’s friend and masseur, Ralph Roberts, told Spoto that she called him from a romantic outing to Bing Crosby’s Palm Springs estate, during which she shared a room with him. President. Once again it seems as if blond he leaned more toward metaphor than fact.