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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Forever Marilyn
The Blu-ray Collection


Starring: Marilyn Monroe
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
RRP: £34.99
Certificate: 12
Available 23 July 2012

It’s a sad thing that to become an iconic figure, one of the passports to fame is an early death. Marilyn Monroe was a talented actress, who was beset with relationship difficulties, drug problems and an unhealthy relationship with the Kennedy family. Her early death, which still divides opinion between accidental, suicide and murder, just added to the factors which threatened to overshadow her excellent film work. Four of her best comedies have been collected together for this Blu-ray box set Forever Marilyn, allowing us once again to catch Marilyn the actress, to enjoy her performances and for a while forget her tragic life. After more than fifty years we still watch these films for one thing, Marilyn Monroe.

Lorelei Lee and Dorothy Shaw are making their way through life working as show girls. Lorelei Lee is engaged to Gus Esmond. He is utterly devoted to her, but his family is not so sure, so when the girls take a trip to Europe, the family sends along a private investigator, Ernie Malone. What should have been an uneventful trip becomes a farce involving a diamond tiara, which threatens to destroy her relationship with Gus...

Gentlemen Prefer Blonds (Colour. 1953. 1 hr, 31 min, 25 sec) is a comedy, directed by Howard Hawks; the screenplay by Charles Lederer was an adaptation of a stage play by Joseph Fields and Anita Loos.

The film shows both Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell at their best, although Monroe plays the quintessential diamond digger dumb blond, a role which would both bring her great fame, but also act as a constraint on her being taken as a serious actress.

The film shows a lot of why she became popular, as she is one of those people that the camera just appears to love. And, as the camera falls in love with her, so does the audience. The musical comedy, not only in its musical numbers, the most famous of which is ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend’, does little to hide its Broadway roots. It’s a fine film and a lot of fun but it can’t be considered the best work either actress has presented, but then this is a light-hearted piece.

The first thing which strikes you about the film is how vibrant the colours are, the opening sequence of the two girls singing, ‘Little Rock’ is bright enough to be an assault on the eyes, It’s understandable why the image was taken up as a pop art image and a credit to cinematographer Robert Taylor. The red sequined dresses create an instantly memorable picture, not bad for the first couple of minutes of a film. This is only beaten by the lavish closing number with Marilyn at her most sumptuous, singing ‘Diamonds’.

Audio options for the disc are English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English DD 1.0, French DTS 5.1, Spanish DD 1.0, plus four more European in DD 1.0 German DTS 5.1 Italian DD 1.0. The sound is clear with no extraneous hiss.

Extras: Movietone News: Marilyn and Jane in Cement (50 sec) have the two placing their imprint in the sidewalk. There is the Theatrical trailer (2 min, 32 sec), as well as more Monroe Movie Trailers: Gentlemen Prefer Blonds (2 min, 32 sec), Colour River of No Return (2 min, 54 sec - Colour), The Seven Year Itch (2 min, 23 sec) and There’s no Business like Show Business (2 min 46 sec).


Schatze Page, Loco Dempsey, and Pola Debevoise are three gold diggers who plan on using the up market penthouse apartment to trap eligible husbands. Although they are renting off Freddie Denmark, who is avoiding the IRS, the girls have no actual money, forcing them to sell their furniture. All three travel the path of avarice only to find that true love is unexpectedly waiting for them at the end of their journey...

How to Marry a Millionaire (Colour. 1953. 1 hr, 35 min, 46 sec) is another light romantic comedy. Directed by Jean Negulesco, the script by Nunnally Johnson was based on two separate Broadway shows, The Greeks Had a Word for It by Zoe Akins and Loco by Dale Eunson.

The film stared Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall and represented the last truly successful film for Grable. The plot is paper thin and once again betrays its Broadway roots. It’s fluffier than Gentleman Prefer Blonds and the lessor picture for this. That is not to say that it isn’t still a lot of brainless fun. You know that the girls will run into all sorts of mild peril as they individually find their way towards true love. By now Monroe could do this role in her sleep, even with a weaker script, she still commands the screen.

Extras: Movietone News: How to Marry a Millionaire Cinemascope (B&W. 1 min, 19 sec) is another short infomercial, which were once popular between film. Obviously, given the length, it is a snap shot, advert for the film. You also get Trailers: Theatrical (B&W. 2 min 25 sec) which consists of shots from the film with narration; Italian (2 min, 33 sec) Colour shots from the film with narration, in Italian; and German (2 min, 33 sec) same trailer with German narration.

More Monroe Movie Trailers: Gentlemen Prefer Blonds (2 min, 32 sec); Colour River of No Return (2 min, 54 sec - Colour); The Seven Year Itch (2 min, 23 sec); and There’s No Business Like Show Business (2 min, 46 sec)

Audio options for this disc are English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English DD 4.0, French DTS 5.1Spanish DD 1.0German DTS 5.1Italian DD 1.0, plus three more European in DD 1.0, with Subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing, plus thirty world subtitles.


Bored and restless, Richard Sherman sends his wife and children away for the summer holidays. When he returns home he meets the girl, who has rented the apartment above his. He feels an instant sexual attraction to the girl and his imagination starts to run wild as he fantasises that he will give into the seven year itch and sleep with the girl. The girl remains unaware and innocent of Sherman’s increasing sexual tension.

The Seven Year Itch (1955 - 1 hr, 44 min, 24 sec) is a comedy directed by Billy Wilder, from a script by George Axelrod, from his own play.

This is not, visually, one of Billy Wilder’s strongest films; he is content to frame the picture much like a play, allowing the sparkling dialogue between Monroe and Tom Ewell (Sherman) to carry many of the scenes. Even with a strong script, the film is remembered for the significant image of Monroe’s white dress billowing from the subway airshaft, an image which has become iconic around the world. Even if you knew nothing about her films, most people would recognise the image.

Unlike the previous two films, the script here is sharp and witty. It’s a delight to see Sherman tying himself up in knots as he imagines being unfaithful with the girl. Oddly enough Monroe isn’t given a name in the film, presumably so that in her nameless state she can become representative of all alluring women, which act as magnets for lonely men of a certain age.

The film has a full length commentary by Author Kevin Lally (Billy Wilder Biographer), who is informative about both the film, Monroe and Wilder. It’s worth listening to. You can also listen to the isolated score in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Audio options for this disc are English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English DD 3.0, French DTS 5.1, Spanish DTS 5.1, plus one more European in DD 1.0

Extras: The Hays Code - Picture in picture with sexual innuendo meter. I don’t know what I was doing wrong, but I just could not get this feature to work. There is also a Marilyn Monroe interactive timeline, which highlights significant films in her career.

Monroe and Wilder: An Intersection of Genius (25 min, 58 sec), documentary discussing how Wilder's work became more comedic and his growing relationship with Monroe. Unfortunately the two people in question have passed away so the story is told via a number of experts and surviving collaborators. Fox Movie Presents Fox Legacy with Tom Rothman (17 min, 22 sec) is another retrospective about the film. You also get two Deleted Scenes (3 min, 32 sec), Hollywood Backstories: The Seven Year Itch (24 min, 25 sec) another retrospective and Publicity (5 min, 20 sec) has a sneak preview as well as two trailers. The extras finish off with two Stills galleries: Advertising (55 sec - 12 pics) and Behind the Scenes (2 min, 40 sec - 33 pics).


Having been unwilling witnesses to the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre, Joe and Jerry have to get out of town fast. The problem is that they are two struggling musicians, with no money to speak of. As the net closes in they take their most ambitious gamble and join a female jazz band, which is heading off to Florida. Disguised as Josephine and Daphne, they struggle to keep their identities hidden, especially around the beautiful Sugar Kane...

Some Like it Hot (B&W. 1959. 2 hr, 01 min, 32 sec) is a masterful and in many ways perfect comedy directed by Billy Wilder.

By far the best film in the set, it is strange that it is the only disc which has no extras. Even odder is that if you leave it alone the film will play over and over again without ever stopping. There is only a single audio option for multi-channel DTS HA MA.

It’s a master class in sexual innuendo, Tony Curtis (Joe) and Jack Lemmon (Jerry) both display impressive comic timing, with a superior script, although Tony Curtis wins for his portrayal of ‘Junior’ the fake son of the owner of Shell Oil, as he does a wonderful pastiche of Cary Grant. Monroe is at her comedic best, yes she is still playing a ditzy blond, but she does it with pathos and heart. The film also has one of the funniest closing lines addressed to Jack Lemmon.

Oddly enough the films age also reflect their quality. When they were initially released all four movies did well and generally garnered good reviews, but there is an increase in quality, as the years pass, as the scripts got sharper and Monroe refined her character.

The films look wonderful, although there is evident grain in each, this would have been part of the original print. The remixed audio is especially welcome for Diamonds musical numbers. In each of their way, each film belongs to a classic period of Hollywood film making and with Monroe’s screen presence; each film deserves to be watched and enjoyed by another generation.


Charles Packer

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