Something’s Got to Give (1962)

I I caught the 37 minute version of the 1962 remake of my Favourite Wife, Something’s Got to Give. Production was halted when Marilyn Monroe was fired, and while she was re-hired, she died before the film could resume shooting. It’s unfair to really judge the film in it’s current form, but I personally think it had the potential of at the very least being quite entertaining. Marilyn Monroe is an incredible screen presence, and not only is she absolutely beautiful here, she emits an incredible joy. For me, the best snippet, even above the skinny dipping is easily when Monroe first enters the film, where she meets her children who she hasn’t seen for five years. As they are quite young, they don’t even recognize her as their mother, but instead of lingering on this sadness she takes advantage of her reunion to enjoy the presence of her children. It’s an incredibly joyful sequence, and is filled with warmth.

I’ve always attested that Monroe was a great actress, and I think while especially apparent in her later films, like Some Like it Hot and the Misfits, watching even her first starring role, Don’t Bother to Knock, there is a sense of not only a great screen presence, but a great talent as well. She had that rare quality that when onscreen, you can’t take your eyes off of her. I think this is less do to her beauty, but more to an incredible vulnerability, mystery and intelligence that lies behind her eyes. This is a weird tangent, but the reason why I cannot really immerse myself in these new 3-D films like Beowulf is the emptiness in the eyes. I think whoever said they were the portal to the soul were really onto something.

Even in it’s extremely shortened and incomplete form, I think there is some worth in Something’s Got to Give, and if you have a chance you should see it. It has a few laughs, and despite it’s fractured nature is not difficult to follow.

5 responses to “Something’s Got to Give (1962)

  1. “I’ve always attested that Monroe was a great actress…”
    Uh, I don’t think I’ll ask why. I don’t even know what a “good” actor is. BUT I will say that if Monroe is at all worthwhile onscreen, it is because she was usually in the hand of compotent directors. She didn’t have to do much more than be on the set, and the director–especially if you believe the stories of Wilder–had to force and bend her to their will. Remember the Kuleshov effect? Often acting is no more than a crafty camera.

    “I think this is less do to her beauty, but more to an incredible vulnerability, mystery and intelligence that lies behind her eyes.”
    Whoa, do I disagree with this completely. To me she is one of the least mysterious and least intelligent women I’ve ever seen on screen. All she is is a blonde with nice breasts. Of course, her attractiveness extends further than that, but not once have I seen a flash in her that suggests any more that what she shows, which is usually idle girlish giggling and lip-pouting.

    I agree she had stage presence, but I hope you don’t mind me calling you insane for giving her any more credit than that. Not that it matters–screen presence and a great body are good enough.

  2. This is true to a certain extent, but it could extend to all performances and actors, and not all would come out with as great an effect as Monroe. I’ve worked with actors on stage and in film, and some of the best I’ve ever seen need that extreme guidance to get out any performance, let alone a good one. The result is worth it though, so people continue to work with these people. As for Wilder’s stories, he’s referring in specific to Some Like it Hot, which by all accounts was probably Monroe at her most stubborn, drugged out, and depressed. His forcing had more to do with her emotional state than her talents, at least how I understand the situation. He also later said he wanted to work with her again because the end result was so successful, but never had the opportunity.

    Mystery, I can almost understand, but she’s always striked me as intelligent. She isn’t cultured or sophisticated in really any sense, but one doesn’t have to be a sophisticate to exude intelligence. The opposite effect quite blatantly is ignorance, that cannot be measured onscreen aside from perhaps choice of roles, and in dealing with more difficult subject matter handling of material, and in old Hollywood this is almost entirely irrelevant. Otherwise, I’d go with vacancy as being a screen equivalent for real world stupidity. She had a weight in her actions, and I always am always captivated by at least the implication that she is thinking or experiences something on more than a shallow level. I feel sometimes, the best instruction a director can tell an actor, is that when you are not speaking, just “think”. Even if it’s about your groceries, it reads so well onscreen. I don’t know, intelligence is difficult to measure regardless. Probably the wrong word, although I don’t believe for a moment she was as dumb as some of the characters she played.

    I won’t call you insane, because for the most part I’m on my own boat on this one. I can even conceed that presence and body is all that’s needed, hell even a body isn’t needed if you can get the first one right. I even think Welles said something to that effect, I think about James Cagney.

  3. Yeah, I think I remember Welles saying something like that too… something along the lines that Cagney’s acting was all about energy.

    Anyway, “I always am always captivated by at least the implication that she is thinking or experiences something on more than a shallow level.” Haha, to imagine that she might possibly be thinking… Perhaps it is better to attribute the possibility of intelligence to her characters than to Monroe–to be honest, in a film like Some Like it Hot, her characters does things that surprise me not because their is some intelligence behind them, but because it looks like Monroe has no idea what she is doing, that she is doing somewhat manipulative things on whims rather than calculation. I score this point to the writer/director, not to Monroe.

    None of this is to diss Monroe, but I’ve yet to see something that would hint any critical intellect was behind her actions. The stories about her in real life don’t do much to help her.

    Hmm… as for the intelligence you are talking about in relation to Monroe, I am thinking of the girl in The Big Heat–shallow and superficial, but by the end she definitely shows some calculating free will which one attributes to a personal sense of morality and thought. This is the intelligence I think you are driving at for Monroe, but I still wouldn’t give that to her.

    “Screen Godess” is impressive enough.

  4. Cagney is wonderful and it’s true. He himself said he always wanted to be in movement, because he thought it was more dynamic for the viewer. You could really tell he was a dancer, he moved so wonderfully. Even as a gangster.

    I’ll disagree with you on Some Like it Hot, only because I’ve seen the film like a hundred times and have never noticed it. Maybe I’m not looking for it, but I feel as though I’m watching Sugar, and I’m completely lost in the film’s world and her story. I’ve read nearly all the stories about what happened on the set, I’ve had people point out to me when she’s apparently reading off cards. I just don’t see it. Maybe I’m blind to her faults, it seems like a logical explanation.

    Gloria Grahame! Yes, I do think she’s a better actress, one of my favourites actually. Hmm.

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