Sunday, 02 April 2023

Marilyn Monroe the reigning “Blonde”; holiday spirit on TV


Sixty years have passed since Marilyn Monroe was discovered dead in her Brentwood home from an apparent barbiturate overdose. However, conspiracy theories abound to this day on the nature of her passing.

Interest in one of the most iconic Hollywood stars remains unabated. A special-edition collector’s DVD set, “Blonde: The Marilyn Stories” is set for release on December 6th.

This new, comprehensive compilation helps to answer some of the many questions that continue to linger about the extraordinary life of one of the world’s most-famed sex symbols, depicting various aspects of a complicated life cut tragically short.

Included in the DVD are two docudrama films featuring outstanding portrayals of Marilyn, “Blonde” (2001), a two-part, fictionalized biopic; and “Marilyn and Me” (1991), a dramatic feature.

Part of the package includes the first-ever exploitative biography “Goodbye, Norma Jean” (1976), originally deemed a questionable release due to its salacious nature.

Bonus material in the DVD includes two documentaries, “Marilyn” (1986), a short film with Mike Wallace, and “The Legend of Marilyn Monroe” (1967), narrated by John Huston and featuring Lauren Bacall, along with footage of Marilyn’s first-ever television appearance.

Born Norma Jeane Mortensen on June 1, 1926, the star known as Marilyn Monroe lived a brief but remarkable life of 36 years. Much has been written by many who never knew Norma Jeane, who fought hard for the fame and success that led to her being crushed beneath the weight of it all.

Marilyn was a true artist, but her on-screen appearances are in stark contrast to the love issues, exploitation, abuse of power and drug addiction she faced in her private life.

Following 30 movies, three marriages, a first-edition “Playboy” cover shot and singing to an American president, Marilyn is unfortunately remembered more for her iconic images and controversial alliances than for her extraordinary acting and singing talents.

While waiting for the DVD release of “Blonde: The Marilyn Stories,” Netflix offers “Blonde” starring Ana de Armas in the titular role of a film based on the bestselling novel by Joyce Carol Oates.

Watching the Netflix film which blurs the lines of fact and fiction to explore the widening split between her public and private selves may prove to be a real slog. Rotten Tomatoes does no favors with its low ratings.

A graphic abortion scene is a bit much to stomach, and so is the rape by a Hollywood mogul. Even a sexual encounter with President Kennedy borders on the pornographic.

The saving grace to “Blonde” is Ana de Armas’s extraordinary transformation into the naive troubled actress navigating the treacherous world of the film industry and assorted degradations.

Putting aside failed marriages to baseball star Joe DiMaggio and author Arthur Miller as well as liaisons with political figures, the best way to remember Marilyn would be to enjoy films like “The Seven Year Itch,” “Some Like it Hot” and “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”


Forget about Thanksgiving, the Christmas holiday spirit gets started on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries before anyone even has had a chance to fully digest the traditional turkey dinner.

Hallmark has a cottage industry of Christmas films in the pipeline. Taylor Cole and Benjamin Ayres star in “Long Lost Christmas,” an original movie that is part of the network’s annual “Miracles of Christmas” programming event.

This Christmas, Cole’s Hayley plans to surprise her mother Patricia (Jaqueline Ann Steuart) with the perfect holiday present — the extended family she knows her mom yearns for.

Having discovered the existence of her mother’s long-lost brother, Hayley travels to a small town outside of Denver to chase a lead on a man named Gordon (Grant Vlahovic) who might be her uncle.

Delighted by the town’s holiday spirit, Hayley becomes equally charmed meeting Gordon’s daughter and property manager Jake (Benjamin Ayres). As she tries to discover whether Gordon is actually her uncle, Hayley begins to fall in love with the idea of an extended family.

But Hayley starts to have second thoughts when she learns the circumstances surrounding the siblings’ separation and decides to abandon her mission. For his part, Gordon is happy to finally have a lead on finding Patricia.

Bruce Campbell (“Ash vs Evil Dead”), who fought zombies in the movies, seems like an improbable choice in a starring role in the Hallmark Channel original movie “My Southern Family Christmas.”

Under the guise of a journalist writing a story about a tight-knit community that makes Christmas special, Jaicy Elliot’s Campbell has a chance to get to know her biological father Everett (Bruce Campbell) for the first time, without him knowing who she really is.

As she spends time with him and his family, Campbell realizes that families are messy, wonderful things. In the end, she must decide if she’s going to keep her identity a secret or reveal the truth to her father — a decision that will change their family Christmas forever.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

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