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“In some ways I feel like I never have to let go of her,” Michelle Williams told PopcornBiz about film icon Marilyn Monroe, whom she earned an Academy Award nomination for playing in “My Week With Marilyn.”
“And I don’t want to,” Williams added quickly. “I feel like I would be abandoning her.
Thanks to the magic of her movies, it seems Monroe will never be abandoned: Her cinematic legacy is celebrated anew in the high quality Blu-Ray format with “Forever Marilyn,” a collection of some of the platinum blonde’s most indelible films, timed to mark the 50th anniversary of her unexpected death at age 36 in 1962.
Director Simon Curtis studied the ultimate movie star sex symbol closely while making his film with Williams, coming away impressed with how Monroe brought just as much skill to her roles as she did screen sizzle during her too-brief career.
“I think one of the things we all learned working on 'My Week With Marilyn' was what an extraordinary actress Marilyn Monroe was,” Curtis told Popcorn Biz. “And the more we researched her, the more work we did, the more we understood that her passion was to be taken seriously as an actress – and it was her fate never to be taken seriously, in a way, was the thing that most moved us about Marilyn.”
Modern-day fans can now take Monroe seriously indeed, in gorgeous high-definition no less. “Forever Marilyn” includes:
“Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” (1953): Monroe perfected her comedic persona as the not-so-bright blonde you still can’t take your eyes off in this still-charming Howard Hawks musical comedy. Here she is ideally teamed with the more savvy but equally alluring Jane Russell, giving Marilyn her most fabled song-and-dance sequence with “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.”
“How to Marry a Millionaire” (1953): Despite its dated gold-digging premise, this Technicolor Cinemascope confection includes the additional splendors of Lauren Bacall and Betty Grable, two of Monroe’s screen siren predecessors. It's a daffy mix that includes perhaps Marilyn’s funniest turn as the literally and figuratively myopic Pola.
“River of No Return” (1954): One of the few films to provide the actress with a leading man of equal magnetism in Robert Mitchum. This Western romance features the magnificent Canadian scenery and is lavishly shot by director Otto Preminger.
“There’s No Business Like Show Business” (1954): Despite its then all-star cast – including Ethel Merman, Donald O’Connor, Mitzi Gaynor and Dan Daily – this film would be long-forgotten if it weren’t for Monroe, who took the role only upon being guaranteed “The Seven-Year Itch.” And she delivers a blistering rendition of “Heat Wave” at the height of her big screen sensuality.
“The Seven-Year Itch” (1955): Thanks to her debut collaboration with writer-director Billy Wilder, who adapted the popular stage hit, Monroe – playing the sex-farce comedy utterly sincerely and straight-faced – makes her first compelling case for cinematic immortality as The Girl, creating an image for the ages when she cools herself on a hot day with a skirt-raising blast from a passing subway train.
“Some Like It Hot” (1959): There’s every reason to believe Wilder’s whip-smart cross-dressing screwball caper would have been a box office smash with Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis alone, but Monroe’s presence elevates it to one of the greatest comedy classics of all time with her alternately amusing, sexy and touching turn as lovelorn Sugar Kane.
“The Misfits” (1961): The last Monroe film to be released before her death, it’s a sometimes overblown melodrama given its stark creative pedigree (directed by John Huston and written by Monroe’s then-husband, acclaimed playwright Arthur Miller), but her powerhouse Golden Globe-winning performance – buoyed by equally strong final film turns by Clark Gable, her equal in screen command, and Montgomery Clift, her similarly tragic soul mate – demonstrates both her range and hints at the haunting emotional fragility that came to signify her untimely end.