Marilyn Monroe: An Appreciation

Lots of great photos not included in other books. I personally like to get the books put out by particular photographers so this would qualify and it certainly was written with love and respect.

You can currently get a re-issue of this book through Amazon...

Author Eve Arnold
Publisher Alfred A. Knopf Inc.
Cover Type Hardcover
Dimensions 9.75 x 11.75 inches
Publish Date 1987
ISBN 0-394-55672-0
Signed No
Number of Pages 141


Whenever one reads about those who experienced working with Marilyn, the memories, for the most part, are not the best. Think about it and see if you donít agree. Actors, (with notable exceptions), remember waiting for hours on end for her to appear or they recall take after take, their own performances often suffering as Marilyn got better while they got worse. Directors seem to dwell on their frustration as the great Monroe would not pay them the attention they felt they deserved and instead would turn to wait for the thumbs up or down from either Natasha or Paula. Even at the beginning of her career, old hand stars like Barbara Stanwyck and Paul Douglas felt chagrined to watch the flurry of commotion stirred up by this young starlet while they cooled their heels. Thatís not to say that everyone, stars, directors, members of the crew, donít spend an equal amount of time searching for words of praise and amazement once they see the rushes. As Sybil Thorndyke best put it, Marilyn was the one who knew how to act in front of the camera. All the frustration and heartache, all of that was soon forgotten once that special brand of magic hit the screen. Even Lawrence Olivier had to concede the woman was simply the best, no matter how much it pained him to say it.

 The reason I bring this up is that it would be doubtful that a former director or fellow actor could write a book about their MM experiences and title it ìAn Appreciationî, at least not with a straight face. Yet the experience of those who worked with her in still camera sessions is 180 degrees from those who worked with the motion picture camera. Isnít that true? Think of Doug Kirkland, Bert Stern, George Barris, Sam Shaw, Milton Greene, every single one of them has gone on record as saying that working with Marilyn was an absolute dream, some going so far as to toss in words like genius and master. Nearly every one of these photographers has said at one time or another that there was no other model like Marilyn Monroe, that no one then or now could come close to the sheer professionalism and innate knowledge she possessed when it came to working with a still camera. For these men, like Eve Arnold, the word ìAppreciationî is more than applicable. When a professional photographer, at the top of their game, meets up with a professional model, equally at the top of her craft, the result, as we can all bear witness to, is just this side of magical.

 I have to admit that for a great long time, I was not a fan of Arnoldís work. The photos just didnít seem, well, as Extraordinary as Marilynís work with others. But the simple pleasures captured in Arnoldís lens have grown on me to the point where now I consider her one of my favorite Monroe photographers. Last night as I was reading through Ms. Arnoldís book, something began to filter through to my brain, something that should have been obvious to me all along. Think of the great Monroe photographers-- Greene, Stern, Barris, Kirkland, Shaw etc. What do they have in common that Arnold does not? Right. Marilyn as captured by Shaw, Kirkland et al, is Marilyn Monroe as viewed by Man. Arnold brings something completely new to the table-- Marilyn as seen by a Woman. Is that the secret to why Arnoldís work does not seem as out of the ordinary as the product of her fellow photographers? Or rather, not so much not out of the ordinary as human, a subject that for all her beauty seems natural, a model that everyone, male or female, can feel a connection to, can somehow relate to. I may be way off base here but I think that is what sets Arnoldís work off from all the other photos we are so familiar with. Greene captured a glossy page Technicolor beauty. Kirkland saw a squeaky clean fantasy come to life. Barris gives us the Movie Star in the house and on the sand while Stern presents the eraís greatest beauty trying her hand at fashion. But Eve Arnold somehow was able to capture a working woman, someone we could feel at home with, never intimidated but always intimate.

 The wonder of Eve Arnoldís book is captured in that single word of her title-- Appreciation. Thatís not a word you hear often from those who had professional encounters with Marilyn. While others can praise her ethereal presence on the screen, her sexual allure or her ultimate movie star luminosity, it takes Eve Arnold to state how much she appreciated working with the woman who became a friend, the woman she so enjoyed working with and more over, knowing. Where others can bitch and moan about the effort it took to bring that magic to the viewer, Arnold simply states that she was grateful for the experience.

 The book takes us through the roughly ten years of Arnold and Monroeís friendship. I use that word, ìfriendshipî, with the knowledge that Arnoldís relationship would likely be considered professional rather than as a friend. The point is, Arnold met Monroe professionally and after working close with her, a slow appreciation came over her, the ability to recognize the hardship it was to be Marilyn Monroe and an appreciation of how this supposedly untouchable star worked under the burden of her fame with great aplomb, and more importantly, kindness.

 From the earliest encounters in 1952 to the Bement photos of 1955, through the summer photos of 1956 all the way through the hellish experience of the Nevada desert in 1960 to that last session of a somewhat puffy Monroe lounging in beige satin or nude in a wrought iron chair, Arnold had the fortune to remain close to Marilyn, to admire her as a fellow professional as well as view her with the empathetic eye of a working woman who faced the same and all too often condescension Marilyn battled against throughout her thirty-six years.

Hereís the deal. If you like coffee table books with swell color and black and white shots of Marilyn, ìAn Appreciationî is for you. If you enjoy the calm and admiring memories from one who actually knew and worked with this woman we all love, ìAn Appreciationî is for you. If you want to read the words and look at the pictures of someone who ìgetsî Marilyn, this book is for you. Any book that can combine all of these and give you something to think about, has more than earned my recommendation. Find it, buy it, and treasure it.

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