Grading The Historical Accuracy Of “My Week With Marilyn.”

Actress Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe in "My Week with Marilyn."

Writing in The Guardian This Morning …
… critic Alex von Tunzelmann gives the new Michelle Williams film (already being touted as Oscar-bait for the talented actress) a grade of C+ for its historical accuracy.

For those not in the know, the movie is based on the memoir of the British documentarian Colin Clark, who worked as an assistant to Sir Laurence Olivier on the 1956 film “The Prince & the Showgirl,” which also starred Monroe. With the principals safely in the next life, there’s no one left alive who can confirm or refute Clark’s claims.

Here’s the nut graf:

“Historically, the film’s main problem is that its source for the alleged Clark-Monroe liaison is Clark’s diary. In the film’s key sequence, Monroe takes too many pills, locks herself in her bedroom, and collapses. Clark climbs in through the window. He refuses to open the door to her worried friends, asserting that he is the best person to look after her, and says he will sleep on the sofa. Instead, he gets into bed with the woozy and incoherent woman and starts telling her he loves her. According to him, that’s as far as it goes – but Monroe can’t remember anything the next morning, so you’ve only got his word for it. Clark’s diary and the movie present this as a loving and quasi-heroic attempt by Clark to “save” Monroe. In fact, it’s creepy. Disquietingly, the film doesn’t question Clark’s version of events, though a lot of it can’t be verified and sounds like self-serving fantasy. For all his talk about wanting to protect Monroe, is it protecting her to sell your story – twice – when she’s dead and can’t answer back?”

Read the full story here.
Last week, one of the few surviving stars of the original film, British actress Vera Day offered her own take to the Daily Beast on what “My Week with Marilyn” got right and wrong about what really happened.

Day tells The Beast:

“Marilyn even flounced off one time from the set and went back to her caravan and wouldn’t come out after a dispute between her and Sir Laurence Olivier. He was old school, and she was this brash American woman who was discounting everything he’d said. There was one scene where Marilyn said, “I just don’t ‘see’ it,” and Sir Laurence Oliver said something like, “Stop saying that, and just say the bloody line!” That was a little bit embarrassing for her. And there was one scene in the abbey where she needed 30 takes to do just one line! She was pretty unprofessional, but when she “got it” and did the scene right, she just came alive and was fantastic. She’d get that look in her eye like, “Ah!” and then the rest of the cast would be like, “Ah, thank God she’s got it!”

If nothing else, the conflicting accounts are a reminder that memory is a slippery thing and that no two people remember the same event the same way.

About jlmicek

I'm an award-winning journalist in Harrisburg, Pa. I also run and cook all the things.
This entry was posted in drama, Femmes Fatale, Film News, Screen Sirens and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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