Tag Archives: marilyn monroe

There’s No Business Like Show Business

There’s No Business Like Show Business is the movie that showcased the song of the same name.  It is from 1954 and surprisingly, has very little misogynistic content.  It regales the tale of the Donahues, a family of Vaudeville performers.

It begins with the story of the mother and father’s Vaudeville act.  They have three children, but are forced to give up the act during the depression.  She does radio work and the father has an act centered around women.  Dad is a little bit of a jerk who objectifies lots of women throughout the movie.

After the depression they are able to take up the act again, but this time as a family of five.  This only works for a little while because the children are growing up and want to have their own identities.

The oldest child is a son named Steve.  He becomes a priest much to the distress of his family.  They even give him a musical number where he evangelizes.  Then he performs a marriage, but really falls off the screen.

The daughter is the familial glue.  She is the one who tries to keep everything together throughout everything.  She is peppy, perky, and full of faith.  So she knows that everything will be okay.  She marries an unimportant man and is pregnant at the end of the movie, ending up with a pretty perfect little life.

The youngest son has the most remarkable story of the children.  He falls in love with Marilyn Monroe (Vicki Parker) and when she puts her career before him, at least for part of the movie, he gets drunk, leaves the act, and disappears.  There is then a morose part of the movie where everyone is depressed.  Eventually he comes home and there is a great reprise where they all sing together.

Marilyn Monroe is really a secondary character in this movie, which does not happen very often.  She is an aspiring show business gal and meets Tim the night she gets her big break.  She then has a musical number called “Heat Wave.”  I have no idea how it got past the censor boards.  She is dancing around in a skimpy bottom with a big skirt attached, talking about how she is hot and makes the temperature rise.  This is emphasized by the fact that she has male dancers with her.  I am sure that it was quite a number back in the day.

The most remarkable character in the movie is Molly, the mother played by Ethel Mermen.  She narrates, she sings, she dances, she is the show business person in the whole movie.  She also holds it together for the post part while her family is falling apart.  Molly forgives Vicki for breaking Tim’s heart and it’s all okay, because the night she forgives Vicki, Tim comes home.  He was just in the navy the whole time.  This is probably one of Ethel Merman’s stronger performances that I have seen.  She is charming, graceful and incredibly worth watching.

The dad is somewhat unremarkable.  He sings, objectifies women, tries to ensure his children fulfill classic family and sexual roles, and then goes to look for Tim because he’s gone.  He’s not a very good husband, poor Molly.

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Weird Movie

Would you like to know what is a weird movie?  I will tell you what.  The Seven Year Itch is a weird, weird movie.  I put it in my netflix queue vaguely remembering it from long ago.  I watched it this morning while I puttered around my house.

Tom Ewell plays this man named Richard Sherman.  He sends his wife and son to Maine for the summer while he stay in New York City.  By a stroke of fate Marilyn Monroe is his new neighbor, subletting his neighbor’s apartment.  It takes him less than a day to go absolutely insane.

The whole movie is centered around a really fantastical and bizarre narrative all done by Ewell.  He fantasizes that he woos Marilyn Monroe, that his wife comes home and finds her in his apartment so she shoots him.  Then he fantasizes that his wife is on a romantic hay ride with this hunky blonde man who says very poetic things to her.  In his fantasies: He turns down his secretary who propositions him, turns down a nurse that propositions him, and does all sorts of other incredibly random things.

His imagination is so fantastical that he ends up trying to hit on Marilyn Monroe and even kisses her a few times.  Generally she seems fine with it, but is clueless throughout.  She just wants to stay in his apartment to take part in his air conditioning.  Otherwise she is completely oblivious to the fact that he is having elaborate bat shit crazy fantasies for the hour and forty minutes of this movie.  The title comes from the idea that a man will cheat on his wife after the seventh year of marriage, he gets a Seven Year Itch.

At the end of the movie he goes to Maine to be with his wife and son and brings his son’s kayak paddle with him.  That’s it.  He just goes down the street running with a kayak paddle on his way to Maine.  There’s no moral, no sense, no nothing.  I guess it’s good that Marilyn Monroe escapes with her skin intact and Ewell not wearing it as a suit, but it is just a bizarre movie.  It’s also the movie with the white blowy dress.  Ya know, this one.

I don’t understand how she was possibly standing on that grate in those shoes without falling in.  Also, how would the Subway possibly be kicking up cold air when it is 95 degrees and all the heat and smoke trapped down there?  I’m pretty sure it was just a ruse to look at her legs.  Overall, it perpetuates all sorts of random 1950s crap that I don’t care to go into, but even without all of that added in, it is just a weird, weird movie.

The only seven year itch I think it’s going to give me is the way I’ll be forever scratching my head thinking about how anyone ever came up with such a premise for a movie and thought, oh yes.  That seems like a wonderful plan.

It is based on a play, which translates in the narration that Ewell does, but it means that he dominates the movie and there is very little action outside of his apartment.  It was also in the midst of the censor issues in the mid 1950s, so I can see where it might deserve a benefit of the doubt, but it certainly hasn’t aged well.

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