Palm Springs residents thought they'd seen the last of mega Monroe. They were wrong.
At Pulp Intl. we report on all things Marilyn Monroe, from her life and loves to her alleged porno film, so of course we couldn't let this one slide by. A giant Marilyn Monroe statue inspired by her famous subway breeze scene in The Seven Year Itch is set to be installed in Palm Springs, California. The twenty-six-foot high statue, created by Seward Johnson and called “Forever Marilyn,” already resided in the city from 2012 to 2014, and when she left plenty were happy to see her parachute-sized panties leave town. Now she's scheduled to return to a site near the Palm Springs Art Museum and some locals have their knickers in a twist. There are two objections: that the statue is garish and lowbrow, and that it's sexist. Both complaints inarguably state the obvious—it's garish and sexist. Sort of like Pulp Intl. In our case, we preserve historical art for discussion and learning. Since plenty of art and literature from the period we highlight is sexist, our website is sexist also—at least to some. We suggest they not visit. But the Monroe statue is a 2011 creation, and as such isn't a piece of history per se, so much as a tribute to it. It's also in a public place, which makes it a matter of public debate. We can't think of any recent item that ties more contemporary issues into a Gordian knot than this statue. Yes, it's garish. Yes, it's sexist. Yes, it's a little creepy in the #metoo era.Yes, in some amorphous way it's tangentially related to the denial of progress and rights for women. Conversely, yes, it's entertaining. Yes, it's a tribute to an icon (a sexualized tribute, as she was a sex symbol—something that barely exists today). Yes, it's a tribute to golden age Hollywood. Yes, it's inspired by a moment from a comedic film that made millions of people, both male and female, feel good. It's a thorny issue, for sure.
But there's a silver panty lining. Monroe has done something the greatest minds and most determined politicians have not been able to manage—unite right and left. When we were younger it was always conservatives who seemed to hate sex and anything that reminded people of it. Fast forward a couple of decades and now liberals are getting the same way. This isn't true of all conservatives and liberals, of course. But as groups, they both let reactionaries dominate discourse, which creates the impression of intolerance within the whole. The people who hate on the Monroe statue at the highest volume come from the sexual conservatism realm on one end of the spectrum, and the women's rights realm on the other. The discovery that they have common interests qualifies as good news.
We see this as a starting point for national healing. Don't get us wrong—in our opinion both conservatives and liberals should simply say, “Whatever,” to “Forever Marilyn,” and move on. But since they seem to be in agreement about blowing everything that hints at feminine sexuality way out of proportion, seems to us the sky's the limit in terms of other potential areas of agreement. We don't know about you, but we're heartened by that. We feel a little better about things. A nation torn nearly asunder has a chance to heal the rift starting with Monroe's granny panties. They're the most magical undergarments since Eva Braun's. Thanks, Marilyn. You may have saved us yet.
Everything tastes better with Marilyn.
With holiday season upon us perhaps you're looking for something to add to your man cave that will make friends and loved ones question your taste. Above is a Marilyn Monroe whiskey decanter, commemorating her blockbuster comedy The Seven Year Itch, manufactured by the McCormick Distilling Company. This would go well with that wall mounted singing trout you bought back in the ’80s, and the novelty gumball machine you never bothered to refill. But probably the best thing about this item is that when your wife pokes her head in the room and asks if you're coming to bed anytime soon, you can pour another drink and say, “Marilyn wants me to stay.” Get 'em while supplies last.
This ought to really blow your skirt up.
Above is an epic Italian poster for the film The Seven Year Itch, which in Italy was called Quando la moglie è in vacanza, or “when the wife is on vacation.” They probably changed the title because Italians don't understand the concept of a seven year itch. They have a seven week itch—it happens about seven weeks before the wedding. The art here is by P. Franco, aka Franco Picchioni, whose work you can find more of by clicking his keywords below. There's also a very interesting West German poster for the film here.
She's at the top of the scale.
We're big fans of return engagements, especially when they look like this. So here's Evelyn Keyes reprising her first femme fatale appearance, which was back in January of 2013. Keyes was a versatile actress, playing a mocking wife in The Seven Year Itch, an ambitious city girl in 99 River Street, and a quirky genie in A Thousand and One Nights, among many other roles. She's been great in everything we've seen so far, and has become one of our favorites. This excellent promo photo dates from around 1950.
Is there anything worse than an itch you can’t scratch?
The Seven Year Itch is one of Marilyn Monroe’s iconic roles. She’s great in it, but the movie is stagey and clunky and some of its humorous elements haven’t aged well. But Monroe successfully personifies temptation as the upstairs neighbor of married schlub Tom Ewell, and her sexy-but-virginal interplay with him demonstrates once again that she was a uniquely talented comic actress. There’s also really no way to overstate her beauty, nor the ease with which she inhabited these sorts of oops-I-made-you-love-me roles. Simply put, she made everything better, and did it with skill and something more—pure magic. The promo shots below show her famed upskirt scene, which, by the way, never occurs in quite this form in the film. Onscreen we only see her legs twice and two reaction shots. Not sure why director Billy Wilder made that decision—the whole of Monroe is surely better than just a part, no? The German title of the movie was Das verflixte 7. Jahr, which means “the cursed seventh year,” and the poster you see above is from the West German re-release of the film in 1966. The Seven Year Itch, with Monroe, Ewell, and Evelyn Keyes, originally premiered in West Germany today in 1955.
Evelyn Keyes puts the common handkerchief to uncommon usage.
American actress Evelyn Keyes started in film in 1938 and came to wide attention in 1939’s Gone with the Wind. Later she appeared in movies such as Johnny O’Clock, 99 River Street, and The Seven Year Itch. This great shot pairing her with a haystack and wearing a swimsuit put together from handkerchiefs was probably made around 1950.
The hungover and the restless.
Below are two photos of American actress Marguerite Chapman after her 1958 arrest on suspicion of drunk driving. Chapman was well known at the time, having appeared in such films as Appointment in Berlin, Relentless, and The Seven Year Itch. She was detained after rear-ending another car in Hollywood and subsequently refusing to take a field sobriety test. After an unspecified number of hours in jail, she posted bail, and of course the tabloid press was there to document her release.
Marilyn looks good even after the bomb goes off.
Above, a copy of the Uruguayan cinema magazine Cine Radio Actualidad, with a cover image of Marilyn Monroe in her famous Seven Year Itch pose. But since she was colorized and composited on a weird new background, she doesn’t look like she’s flirting with Tom Ewell so much as cringing away from a hot nuclear wind. Was that what the designers were going for? We doubt it. But sometimes you get lucky and end up with a great image anyway. This one hit newsstands today in 1955.
This should really blow your skirt up.
Above you see an extra vibrant February 1955 cover of The National Police Gazette starring Marilyn Monroe in a nice image re-enacting her famous skirt-blowing scene from The Seven Year Itch. This scene never happens in the film—there's a cutaway so you never see a full body shot. But Monroe later played the scene out as a publicity stunt for photographers, some of whom you can see in background of the second shot of the moment featured inside the magazine. Gazette readers were in luck this month, because as a bonus, editors offered a calendar page featuring Bettie Page. Monroe and Page: two great icons that go perfectly together.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1978—Son of Sam Goes to Prison
David Berkowitz, the New York City serial killer known as Son of Sam, is sentenced to 365 years in prison for six killings. Berkowitz had acquired his nickname from letters addressed to the NYPD and columnist Jimmy Breslin. He is eventually caught when a chain of events beginning with a parking ticket leads to his car being searched and police discovering ammunition and maps of crime scenes.
1963—Buddhist Monk Immolates Himself
In South Vietnam, Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc burns himself to death by dousing himself with gasoline and lighting a match. He does it to protest the persecution of Buddhists by Ngô Đình Diệm administration, choosing a busy Saigon intersection for his protest. An image of the monk being consumed by flames as he sits crosslegged on the pavement, shot by Malcolm Browne, wins a Pulitzer Prize and becomes one of the most shocking and recognizable photos ever published.
In New York City, Dr. Robert Smith and William Griffith Wilson, who were both recovering alcoholics, establish the organization Alcoholics Anonymous, which pioneers a 12-step rehabilitation program that is so helpful and popular it eventually spreads to every corner of the globe.
1973—John Paul Getty III Is Kidnapped
John Paul Getty III, grandson of billionaire oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, is kidnapped in Rome, Italy. The elder Getty ignores a ransom demand for $17 million, thinking it is a joke. When John Paul's ear later arrives in the mail along with a note promising further mutilation, he negotiates the ransom down to $2.9 million, which he pays only on the condition that John Paul repay him at four percent interest. Getty's kidnappers are never caught.
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