After her breakout role in The Asphalt Jungle, Marilyn held her own in another prestigious movie. In his latest post for Classic Movie Hub, Gary Vitacco Robles looks at her small but significant turn in All About Eve.
“Monroe had prepared for the role of Miss Caswell, creating a performance out of a handful of lines and only minutes of screen time. Monroe played her with humor as vacuous but ambitious. Serious about her craft, Monroe put her soul into menial parts as if they were leading roles.
Monroe is arresting in a white ermine coat over a strapless white brocade gown with a sweetheart bodice and white tulle bouffant skirt, designed by Charles LeMaire but credited to Edith Head. Monroe’s hair was pulled back on each side of her face and pinned up in the back in curls. Her widow’s peak was prominent, and a wave of hair casually touched her forehead. For the first time, Allan Snyder had darkened the small mole on Monroe’s left cheek between her nose and mouth. The ‘beauty mark’ was her signature makeup trick for the rest of her life.
Whenever Monroe appears on the screen, she commands the audience’s complete attention, no matter who else inhabits the camera’s frame, or even if she remains silent. In the cocktail party scene, all eyes are on Monroe, and she upstages the Hollywood veterans.
Monroe was playing in the big league with an all-star cast, and her anxiety skyrocketed. According to Celeste Holm, she kept her co-stars waiting as she vomited off-stage, just as her character had … Among her veteran costars, Monroe’s career was the only one to ascend. For the others, this film was the peak.
Like Eve, Monroe was poised in the wings and equally ambitious for a successful acting career, but not at the expense or exploitation of another established performer. Like Eve, she was willing to sacrifice a personal life to achieve the goal of stardom.
Until her death, Monroe used the name ‘Miss Caswell’ in phone messages for her friend, columnist Sidney Skolsky.”