Town & Country is the latest media outlet to recommend Marilyn’s movies to viewers of Blonde (which hits Netflix this Wednesday.) Among the 15 selections are the usual favourites and a few leftfield choices, beginning with As Young As You Feel (1951), a satire on ageism in the workplace starring Monty Woolley – and like the veteran character actor, it’s something of an acquired taste.
Marilyn had a minor role as a secretary, but she played it with verve and looked stunning – even by her own high standard. David Wayne, Jean Peters, and Thelma Ritter are also featured, and Marilyn would do better work with each of them in years to come.
As Young As You Feel is remembered mostly today for its offscreen drama. The first release under Marilyn’s new contract at 20th Century Fox, it was made shortly after the death of her agent and mentor, Johnny Hyde. When Elia Kazan visited the set with Arthur Miller, he found Marilyn quietly weeping. This was her first meeting with Arthur, whom she would marry in 1956.
Marilyn’s part in Clash By Night (1952) was somewhat overshadowed by the nude calendar scandal which broke during production. Nonetheless, she gave a spirited performance in this gritty drama, amid a distinguished cast led by Barbara Stanwyck. Following her gripping role in Don’t Bother to Knock, the film gave Marilyn another chance to prove herself as more than eye candy.
Among her later star vehicles, There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954) is less celebrated although Marilyn held her own alongside more experienced musical performers. And finally, the two most notable omissions from the list are River of No Return and Let’s Make Love.