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Marilyn: Something's Got To Give Review

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Marilyn Monroe's death was preceeded by the tumultuous shooting of her final film Something's Got To Give. This documentary is the story of how the picture never made it to the silver screen.

★★★★★

This short tape is not the skeleton of the sex comedy that never was, but a documentary on how it didn’t get made. intended as a remake of the witty little Cary Grant-Irene Dunne romp My Favorite Wife (1940), Something’s Got To Give was the last film of Marilyn Monroe’s Fox contract.

Despite the lukewarm reception for her last pictures, she still had director approval — poor George Cukor — and chose her own leading man, her friend Dean Martin. His salary, though, reflected Fox’s disenchantment: $100,000, when they were paying Elizabeth Taylor $1 million. What we get is a detailed but weak account of the eight tortuous weeks of production from April to June 1962, when Cukor desperately shot everything he could without the star, even to Martin doing his half of the scenes alone.

Meanwhile, Marilyn was pleading ailments like sinusitis at every turn, and was found at least once — in May — in a barbiturate coma. When she was around she was apparantly preoccupied with bizarre anxieties like complaints about the size of co-star Cyd Charisse’s breasts. As chronicles of disasters go, it’s sketchy stuff in the absence of interviews with Cukor, Martin or major Fox players.

Schipper resorts to the not-very-useful reminiscences of the two people who played Monroe’s children (aged four and eight when they did their scene with her) as well as the line producer, the film editor, MM’s overworked stand-in and her psychiatrist’s daughter. There is not much from the shoot, either, since she filmed so few scenes, except take after take with the kids and a 15-second scene with a dog that took a whole day to shoot — not Marilyn’s fault, it was the pooch who kept fluffing. The famous moonlight skinnydip is included, however, as is the newsreel footage of Marilyn panting “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” for JFK in New York.

That little jaunt in May enraged Cukor and the Fox honchos, who went ballistic, fired her on June 8 for “spectacular absenteeism” and filed a breach of contract suit. Lee Remick was hired to replace her, but Martin walked. So within weeks the studio rehired Monroe at double her original salary to complete the picture in September. And then she died. Later the production was begun anew, retitled Move Over Darling and starring Doris Day and James Garner. That was lightly entertaining.

This is for obsessional Monroe collectors only.