Saturday, January 3, 2009

the misfits


He wrote a role in Misfits for her,
but when the movie ended they
drove off in different cars. The play
had ended. He’d begun to bore her.

Before they married she converted;
once he had got for her the hots
a rabbi taught her do’s, do nots,
with which, like him, she merely flirted.

Marilyn, like Willie Loman,
has failed to be a salesman for
herself, and Arthur can’t adore
a wife whose faults are only human.

Roll another barrel in,
Let’s to the health of both now drink;
it’s surely too late for a shrink,
for Arthur Lite and Marilyn.

Inspired by watching a month ago Marilyn Monroe’s performance in the movie Arthur Miller wrote for her, The Misfits, and an article in the LRB, January 1, 2009, by Andrew O’Hagan, reviewing in “Arovsky Millensky,” Christopher Bigsby’s book Arthur Miller, 1915–62:

So how did Miller cope with that feast of adjectives, Marilyn Monroe? Badly, is the answer. One has to work hard to find the comedy in some relationships, but the marriage between Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe has something of a folie de grandeur, where each of these talented people was looking to the other to save them from their former selves…Marilyn was a wonderful phenomenon and Miller knew it when he met her, but she killed his work stone dad, turning her husband into a very busy approval machine for a woman he loved but did not entirely approve of. He wrote only one thing during the time, The Misfits, a movie whose express purpose was to give Marilyn the kind of serious role she craved. He had written a part he hoped might show her a way out of her disappointments. Marilyn wasn’t unlike a female Willie Loman by then, unable to focus on what was real and what was fiction, on what fred her and what imprisoned her. At the end of The Misfits, Roslyn, Marilyn’s character, and the character of the divorced cowboy played by Clark Gable, ride off together in a truck under the stars. It seems like all dispute has been calmed into a semblance of future serenity. In fact, it would be Marilyn’s last film, and Gable’s too. At the end of the final day’s shooting, Arthur and Marilyn traveled home in different cars, their nerves shattered and their marriage over.

© 2008 Gershon Hepner 1/3/09

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