The first two episodes of CNN’s Reframed: Marilyn Monroe have been quite well-received by fans in the US, with the final two parts due to air this Sunday, January 23rd. However, as with most documentaries, some inaccuracies have been noted by fans – particularly regarding her relationship with Joe Schenck and marriage to Joe DiMaggio. April VeVea, author of Marilyn Monroe: A Day in the Life, reviewed the series so far on her Classic Blondes blog.
“Documentaries around Monroe tend to run the gamut between factual wonders and conspiracy theory-drive drivel. So, how is CNN’s latest entry into the Monroe documentary waters?
It’s not going to introduce anything new to the weathered Monroe fan, but it’s evident a lot of heart was put into the film. I do think the absence of men as talking heads feels like virtue signalling (there are some excellent male experts on Monroe), but with the feminist angle the documentary pushes, I’m not overly shocked that’s what we got. A very minor complaint in the grand scheme of things; however, I would have preferred to see a man talking about Monroe’s impact rather than some of the questionable voices we got.
Talking heads that stood out were Michelle Morgan, Cindy de la Hoz and Christina Newland … I especially liked hearing commentary about Monroe’s skills as a model from Nancy Lee Andrews (I’ve thought for years that she should have focused on modeling rather than making the jump to actress), and it’s refreshing to hear people talk about how Monroe was smart about playing the publicity game.
The documentary isn’t looking for a victim angle which is refreshing … I think it paints Monroe well and doesn’t shy away from showcasing her as a person. Sarah Churchwell’s commentary is a bit disappointing, but it’s countered well by Angelica Jade Bastien, Morgan and de la Hoz-Supinal. I do wish that Monroe scholars like Morgan and de la Hoz-Supinal were featured a little more for proper context, because the focus on Churchwell gets tiring. I think the documentary shows promise, and for the handful of inaccuracies I found in it, there are many things the program gets right.”
UK fan blog Our Marilyn Monroe has also reviewed both episodes (and thanks to Scott Fortner, you can view Part 1 and Part 2 via his Marilyn Monroe Collection account on Instagram if you’re outside the US – he will also be live-streaming the finale on Sunday.)
“Firstly, I absolutely love how we are hearing Marilyn’s story from women. We have actresses; film historians; playwrights; biographers and researchers discussing the world from a panel of women … The overall production is professional, easy to watch and contains plenty of beautiful footage of Marilyn coinciding with recordings of her reminiscing. The re-enactments are also gorgeously presented.
As many fans have already stated, there are errors within the first half of Reframed: Marilyn Monroe and there’s no ground-breaking information that those who have researched Marilyn don’t already know.
However, I think this is (so far) a refreshing take on Marilyn’s life. Research has been done, despite a few mistakes and some daft comments. Obviously, we haven’t reached the discussions of her drug habits, her marriage with Arthur or her death yet. This is usually when documentaries go downhill significantly.
But overall, the documentary is doing well in promoting Marilyn as someone who was NOT a victim. I do feel, however, that it is unnecessary to overdo her #GirlBoss ability. Despite her having a dream and working hard, she didn’t do this entirely on her own.”