Watching Marilyn Monroe as she moves across the large silver screen with her signature sensual grace in the 1961 film The Misfits, it is hard to believe that by this point in her career, she had lost virtually all sway over her impulsivity. Her day to day existence had become a series of endless crises that grew more frantic and destructive. She was in a desperate and losing struggle within herself. In retrospect, the wrenching dilemmas she faced off the set gave her portrayal of Roslyn a surreal if not convincing quality that provoked familiar feelings of pity, tenderness, and compassion.
Monroe's talent for the comedy-drama genre played will on screen and with her fans. In many ways her talent for the comedy-drama film was a reflection of her attempt to cope with and avoid the fate that had terrified her since childhood. It was a sense of tragedy that came through as an underlying current of sadness that she could not hide even when she was laughing like a whimsical child. She yearned for the kind of normal life that she fantasized about in her youth and gave up in her teens. She fantasized about living in a small house with a husband who went to work every day and came home every night. A stable home. A home that she barely knew as a child. A stability that she had never had but needed to stay alive. She needed all of those things that she lost when she became Marilyn Monroe. But, she also needed the tangible symbols that fame and adulation only her fans could provide. Over all else, she needed to be loved and this required others to incessantly shown their loved for her. In her world, admiration was more important than wealth. It was a source of life itself.
For Marilyn Monroe, the affection shown by her fans was a source of energy that did not drain her emotionally. She was lost without this positive source of energy in her life. Yet, because of self-doubt, she continued to set the bar ever higher, testing to see if the admiration was for her as the fragile person she was or for the salacious roles she played in movies such as Some like it Hot. How could she ever be convinced?
This was the tragedy of Marilyn Monroe. In her comedic films, one has a sense of impending disaster. It seems to skulk in the background even as she portrayed the innocent and naive pubescent juvenile. Then, in her dramatic efforts, there was the comedy of her feeble attempts to transcend her destiny by pretending that others could save her from herself. The...