Even as a boy, I was always captivated by Marilyn Monroe. She did typify the blonde bombshell female so popular during a certain era, but there was something else too. She had a vulnerability, a touching innocence, and both are things that instinctively make women attractive to certain men, I believe. Some people thought she wasn’t that great an actress, and traded on her looks and figure to achieve fame. I disagree, and think she was an outstanding actress at times, and her good looks actually concealed much of the talent underneath. She had a tragically short life of course, and perhaps didn’t cope well with the fame that surrounded her. But she was undoubtedly a rare combination, someone who was incredibly good to look at, but also knew her strengths when it came to choosing parts.
This film is far from being one of her best. The casting of the non-actor and British crooner Frankie Vaughan was uninspired, to say the least. Yves Montand plays a stereotypical Frenchman, and at times is embarrassing to watch on screen. Even with some genuinely funny moments, and many great musical numbers, it is an implausible tale of a poor dancer and singer being wooed by a millionaire who gets his girl in the end. Despite all this, it remains my favourite Monroe film, because of her. With all the nonsense going on in the background, and some ham acting from many cast members, we get to focus on her. We see her at a time when she was arguably not only at her most attractive, but imbued with a confidence sometimes lacking in more serious films she made.
Co-written by Arthur Miller, directed by the estimable George Cukor, and shown in a lovely Cinemascope print, it was a delight to watch her at the cinema in my childhood. I have watched this film many times since, and never cease to be amazed by her looks, and her subtle skill too.
Watch it just for her.