Sunday, May 27, 2007

Underappreciated Performances- Marilyn Monroe in "All About Eve"

She’s only onscreen for two minutes and twenty-seven seconds but Monroe makes one hell of an impression in the already impressive cast of Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s All About Eve. As Miss Caswell, the "graduate of the Copacabana School of Dramatic Arts," Monroe, doing what she always did well, brings vitality and humor to a trite, dumb blonde role. With the help of venomous theater critic Addison de Witt, Miss Caswell has only one goal- to the nab the role of Margo Channing’s character’s sister after the original leaves the production- and by God she tries her damnedest to achieve it. After being told by Addison to go speak to producer Max Fabian, she coolly asks, "Why do they always look like unhappy rabbits?" and, without breaking a sweat, turns on an infectious smile and struts over to speak with him. She may be a blonde, but she isn’t a dummy. Miss Caswell realizes that she has to use her sex appeal to get her foot in the door and plays it up to full effect. And, just like in most of her later work, she uses her own smarts to make a point. For example, after yelling out "Oh, waiter" to a man carrying drinks and he ignores her, Addison explains that he is not a waiter, but instead a butler. Miss Caswell believes that she can’t yell out "Oh, butler" because "what if his name is Butler?" Addison tells her, "You have a point. An idiotic one, but a point."

A couple of seconds later, Max offers to get her a drink and she smiles coyly at him. Addison notices her charm and says, "Well done. I can see your career rising in the east like the sun." Nothing could have been truer about Marilyn in 1950. Miss Caswell may have bombed her audition and have to settle for television, but Monroe became a sensation by 1953 and eventually became a cultural icon like no other. For many years, people accused Monroe of having little talent until Some Like It Hot, but take a look at her appearance in All About Eve and you’ll see a bright young woman taking full advantage of the chance of a lifetime and doing it brilliantly.

Marilyn Monroe didn’t receive a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination in 1950 for her work in All About Eve, but two of her castmates (Celeste Holm and Thelma Ritter) did. So, head on over to StinkyLulu’s 1950 Supporting Actress Smackdown and check out mine and four other bloggers opinions about the nominees for Best Supporting Actress in 1950. I hope you enjoy it- I had tons of fun preparing for this!

No comments: