My Week With Marilyn: The Myth of the Irresistible Woman and the Destruction of the Belief in Men’s Innocence. (Part 4)
7— Devouring Colin.
- Breaking Colin’s heart.
There’s another moment at which Marilyn’s hypocrisy is clearly showed. It’s at the end when she rebukes Colin’s proposal: the climax of the movie is Marilyn showing her true face.
Colin — You could quit this. Forget Marilyn Monroe. Forget Hollywood. Let it all go. Just let it go.
Marilyn — I couldn't just give it up.
Colin — Why not? Why not, when it drives you crazy?
Marilyn — You think I'm crazy?
Colin — I just meant that you could be happy.
Marilyn — I am happy.
Marilyn isn’t having a conversation with Colin here, she is toying with him. She brought him exactly where she wanted: he offered his heart to her. And now she can dive into the infinite pleasure of humiliating him in the most hurtful way possible, in making as much damage as she can, perhaps making him incapable of ever trusting a woman ever again. Gee ! that would be great !
The shift in meaning she operates on Colin’s “it drives you crazy” is the exact mark of a psychopath (it’s only my opinion here). Marilyn knows perfectly what the young man means but suddenly, he’s not worthy of gaining access to the "true" Marilyn anymore. She fakes the misunderstanding, and the slight vexation that which allows her to conveniently avoid explaining why she "couldn't just give it up". She’s pretended the whole time that she was opening herself to him, that she had the feeling that there was something special between them, something special in him that she didn’t find in any other man, and suddenly everything vanishes. “You think I’m crazy ?” Of course that’s not what he‘s saying. What makes this psychopathic is that Marilyn doesn’t acknowledge the fact that she’s changed her position, she pretends to react as honestly as she always did while suddenly becoming a person different from the one who was attracted to Colin. I’m saying “becoming a different person” instead of just stating that Marilyn pretends not to understand what Colin is saying because the possibility that she doesn’t understand what he means is null. She chooses to create this misunderstanding, and Colin understands very well that it means that she is shutting him off.
The final “I am happy” follows the same logic. Marilyn has been complaining about her situation during the whole movie, everything that she obtained from Colin, she obtained because he thought he was supporting her. This peremptory “I am happy” means “Goodbye Colin, I had a good time abusing you, now you can disappear. But let’s pretend it’s your love for me that created a problem.”
Colin has just become another trophy for her shelves. She obtained everything she could get from him… obtained and destroyed, otherwise it wouldn’t be fun.
As I was saying in my chapter 4, it’s Vivien who gets Colin involved in all this for the specific goal of distracting Marilyn Monroe from her husband. Another woman who obtains things indirectly. At 55mins, Milton Green warns Colin about Marilyn’s predatory habits.
“Listen, kid. I've known Marilyn for seven years. I fell in love with her just as you've done. We had ten days together, and that was it. She picked me up, she put me down, that's what she does. She breaks hearts. She will break yours. My advice to you is quit before you get burned.”
Of course, “Run away, she’s going to break your heart” might sound like a fairly ridiculous warning. If Colin and Marilyn have an affair and it ends on the young man getting his heart broken, that’s life. Or is it ?
What Milton is (maybe unconsciously) warning Colin about is that Marilyn toys with young and unexperienced men until they fall in love with her. She’s never sincere or involved, she has her fun and then dumps them at the specific moment when it hurts the most. The problem isn’t that they get rejected; the problem is that she commodifies them. It’s only a game, a distraction for her. She knows from the start that they’re going to get hurt badly and she rejoices at the idea. The more they resist, the more they get hurt, the funnier it is.
The problem with Milton’s warning is, again, that he doesn’t leave any room for Colin to say that he’s not in love with Marilyn. This is an insult.
Vivien’s manipulation and Milton’s warning allow the audience to perceive that the story is the one of a trap slowly closing on Colin. At 53min, Laurence Olivier warns him too with a “she doesn’t need to be rescued.”
- Appearing naked.
Marilyn first strikes at 29min40s, AFTER Laurence Oliver has proved that he wasn’t under her spell anymore. It’s become obvious that he was going to treat her on the same level as the other actors. Marilyn needs to counter attack and so, as a consequence, she can’t find her script and Colin is sent into her dressing room in which she suddenly appears before him entirely naked and clearly not bothered by his presence. The mistake most of us will make because of our prejudiced culture is to think that this doesn’t represent a threat. Of course, the young man is going to be aroused by this and he certainly isn’t going to think himself unlucky… that doesn’t mean that he isn’t going to feel threatened or that he isn’t under a threat.
Marilyn’s reaction is another good indicator that she is manipulative and entirely in control. She doesn’t hide but instead very slowly removes the towel that is around her hair to wrap herself into it only to then conclude “You can go now Colin” and smile to herself.
Yet, it’s not only her reaction that is suspicious, it’s the situation itself. Marilyn has Paula tell people that she can’t find her script knowing very well that it’s going to transform into Colin searching her room. Nothing is accidental here.
During the press conference (at 13min), Marilyn appears in a dress that let her nipples clearly show. That’s not accidental. A man inappropriately asks her “Is it true you wear nothing in bed except perfume?” Not only does she answer him with a “Yes” but this guy is Arthur Jacobs, he works for her, and the question is most probably her initiative.
Arthur Jacobs is depicted as a sulky vulgar disagreeable man. His first line in the movie is a comment on Colin’s car: “Is this the fucking car ?” But truly, just like Paula he is an intermediary to Marilyn’s thoughts. He criticizes the car because he knows Marilyn would probably be dissatisfied by it. He criticizes the inn where Marilyn is supposed to stay… because he knows she probably would. He allows her to be treated like a whimsical princess without having to appear like one. She’s never seen complain about anything because this man came first and complained about everything as if it was his own personal grief.
Paula Straberg, Milton Greene and Arthur Jacobs (and Roger Smith) all allow Marilyn to behave whimsically while pretending to be absolutely passive, harmless and focussed on different matters. Does she really take pills ? Or is it just another lie to appear fragile ? How far are these three involved in the farce ?
- The first two conversations. Establishing a foot base.
On the day after she showed herself naked to him and later he saw her cry because her husband had taken “hurtful” notes about her, Marilyn ostentatiously ignores Colin when she arrives at the studio. This again is spot on manipulation. If she has a problem with him, she can say it, but she won’t. Suddenly, he is not worthy of being addressed by her anymore, this for an unknown reason when so much happened on the day before. Marilyn creates a desire in Colin to be reassured, to be forgiven and thus a desire to talk to her.
Unsurprisingly, she disappears, the studio gets a call and she asks for the young man to come and visit her. This visit will trigger the -very harmful to Colin- rumour that he and Marilyn are having an affair. Rumour that Colin will deny, not Marilyn that which will make him look even more like a liar. Again, she will pretend to be unaware of it when she necessarily is.
Marilyn’s input to the conversation is more than suspicious. First, she asks Colin his age. She wants to know whether he’s legal (21). Colin answers that he’s nearly 24, he doesn’t realize that the younger he is the more interested she is, as long as he is over his majority.
Then she asks him what his job on the movie is. The young man answers that he is a “gofer” (“go for this, go for that”) but Marilyn adds “But you’re Larry’s assistant, too.” She is going to pretend that she’s asking the question because she suspects the production of spying on her but truly she only wants Colin to perceive her as a persecuted victim. The production doesn’t need anybody to spy on her since they’ve hired a man specifically to remain by her side all the time, the commissary Roger Smith, and she is aware of it. She wants Colin to think that she is powerless and anxious, so that it feels a lot less aggressive and reproachful when she asks “whose side are you on Colin ?” It doesn’t take him half a second to answer “Yours, Miss Monroe” that which is a lot smarter than it might seem. He knows that if he wants to help the movie, there’s no point in hesitating and alienating his relationship with the problematic lead actress.
The result of this discussion isn’t immediately visible as a few things happen before Colin and Marilyn see each other again. Arthur Miller explains Laurence Oliver why he wants to go back to America. Vivien visits the studio, compliments everybody, compliments Marilyn and crushes Laurence down. Suddenly, Marilyn goes back to Park Side supposedly because she is upset about Arthur leaving England… more like she doesn’t want Vivien (a far better actress far better suited for the role) roaming around.
As opposed to a man who would want to try something, Colin is embarrassed by how the woman doesn’t keep at a respectful physical distance of him.
Roger Smith calls the studio and informs Laurence that Marilyn wants to talk to Colin, she invites him to drop by after his day of work before adding: “Don’t tell anyone, though.” She is very well aware that her request is ridiculous. Laurence Olivier was on the phone half a second earlier, of course he’s going to ask Colin what she was asking and even if the young man lies, they’ll find out the truth anyway. Marilyn is only having a good time letting Colin make things worse for himself.
Later on, he’ll dig his own grave through a sexual innuendo and a nervous laugh on the phone (Both subtly triggered by Marilyn). Again, Marilyn laughs innocently while the young man is destroying his career in front of her eyes and this because of her.
She’ll ask him a few meaningless questions about the shooting of the movie and the crew. At some point, Colin innocently advises her to get out more and see the sights, Marilyn peremptorily answers: “I am the sights.” A second later, she fishes for more flattery by asking “What would Sir Laurence say if he could see us now?” Comically, Colin doesn’t understand that he is in front of a Narcisse who only seeks to be admired and answers: “I don't think he'd mind.” Marilyn is hilariously vexed and confused by his remark.
Their conversation is interrupted by a call from Arthur Miller. Roger Smith suggests Colin to leave.
- Colin isn’t interested in Marilyn but nobody cares.
At this point, Colin is still clearly doing his job. He calls Marilyn, Miss Monroe. He is very distant and polite. He doesn’t try to impress her or to flirt with her and doesn’t make any allusion to her beauty or to anything remotely related to sex. At this point, he has already seen her naked ! That made him happy five seconds. This young man isn’t in awe of her, he isn’t interested in having sex with her, he’s only doing his job while of course being well aware that Marilyn Monroe is attractive.
Now that the rumours have sufficiently spread and people are truly wondering whether Colin and Marilyn had sex together. She suddenly starts doing her job. There are a few things to notice in the scene where she plays her role in a satisfying manner:
First, she’s alone on screen. Second, she’s dancing, that is to say she is being a showgirl, that is to say he is doing “what she does” as Laurence earlier begged her to. She makes a few dance steps, someone interrupts her and she states: “It’s you.” Her role is beyond easy when it comes to the acting part and using the Stanislavski method is a farce as it more or less means doing research on your character, Marilyn is a Showgirl.
He’s already been mocked by Laurence Olivier, but it’s at 52minutes that things truly start to go downward for Colin. Arthur Miller gives a call to Milton Greene and claims to be angry at Colin whom he is not even supposed to know. Marilyn used the right words. Then it’s Milton Greene who betrays serious pain and jealousy while giving Colin an authoritative piece of advice. And then it’s Lucy who suddenly appears and puts an end to her relationship with Colin because he stood her up. Colin has been buried under his obligations. He was asked to go to Marilyn’s house in the evening, then in the afternoon… wait… is she aware of his dates with Lucy ? That’s conceivable. Another surprise, just at the moment when Colin is trying to explain himself, she passes by and greets him, and Lucy of course.
The reason why she does that is to pretend that she’s not annoyed at the fact that Colin should have a girlfriend so that it looks like the rumours come from Colin’s behaviour not Marilyn who is totally professional and indifferent, maybe even benevolent towards this young man.
The day ends with a very meaningful shot of Colin lying on his bed. The camera slowly zooms on his face as he takes whole these rejections in and we expect him to eventually smile at the thought of the fact that all of this is happening because he is having some sort of affair with Marilyn Monroe, but he remains very serious.
- When Colin’s defenses eventually break.
On the next day, Marilyn sets a trap for him. Roger asks Colin to jump in Marilyn’s car. Milton Greene steps in to prevent new catastrophe.
Roger — Get in.
Milton — Any problem, Roger?
Roger — Uh, no. Just dropped by to take Colin out to lunch.
Milton — You're not taking him to Marilyn. That would drop us all in a whole ocean of shit.
Roger — No, sir. Been looking forward to this, haven't we, Colin?
Colin — Yeah.
Roger — OK. You have a nice time, boys.
As soon as the car starts, Marilyn springs from under a cover at the backseat. She perfectly heard Milton, she perfectly knows that he is very probably going to hear or see her, and she is perfectly aware of the fact that it’ll be one more nail in the coffin of Colin’s career. She’s not stupid.
Milton shouts: “Colin you’re fired.” And the young man looks very confused, smiley but also strangely on the verge of crying. Marilyn forces the positive narrative upon him: ”Snuggle up. This is fun. This is the getaway car.”
The “snuggle up” is there to confuse him, he is flattered, and aroused and cannot reject her at that specific moment, not when he feels the breasts of a woman pressed against him nearly for the very first time of his life, and these are those of Marilyn Monroe. It’s just too crazy and surreal.
However, as soon as they start walking in the woods Colin tries to force limits upon the woman:
Colin: We have one day to do whatever you like. Then we can go back to real life tomorrow.
Marilyn: Only one day ?
Colin: Well, maybe the weekend.
Marilyn: Or a week!
They visit Windsor Castle and here, I’m wondering whether Roger Smith wouldn’t be working for Marilyn more than for Laurence Olivier’s production. (Even more so when he pretends not to know who she is during his job interview).
Marilyn asks “What should we do now ?” It’s a strange question in the context as she’s the one who had a desire to getaway, and the one who’s a star and a whimsical lunatic. I would have expected her to say “we’re going to […] I’ve always wanted to see the […]” Instead she asks Colin who very logically talks about Windsor Castle. He clearly falls into the trap of trying to impress her here. It’s the first time that she truly gets something from him that it isn’t his job to provide.
What makes me think that Marilyn and Roger knew that Colin was going to propose to visit the castle is that Marilyn doesn’t play the “Marilyn Monroe” card.
Roger — Detective Chief Superintendent Smith. I'm escorting this lady and gentleman for the day. They'd like to look around the castle.
Guard — I need a contact name for the book.
Roger (to Marilyn)— You don't know Her Majesty, by any chance?
Marilyn — Yes, we met at a movie premiere. She said my dress was pretty.
Roger — I don't think that quite does it, sir.
Colin — My godfather works here. He's the royal librarian. Sir Owen Morehead.
Both Roger and Marilyn purposely tackle the problem in a way that’ll make the guard refuse to let them enter. They know that Colin’s Godfather works there. Marilyn wants Colin’s family to know he was there and he tried to impress Marilyn Monroe, she also wants to have been invited in the Windsor castle by seducing a young man and she also want Colin to believe that she wants intimacy, she wants their relationship to be private.
As Owen shows her drawings of a beautiful woman, she can’t help but make stupid jokes to bring the attention back to her.
Importantly, she shows frustration not to be able to see the Mona Lisa when she acted as if she only vaguely knew the existence of the painting- a second before. She wanted to be shown the Mona Lisa. She wanted to be shown the most valuable piece of art that was in the Castle, not because she likes art or cares, but because it’s the most valuable piece of art. It’s all about power.
Then comes the doll house and her disgusting “This is me, that’s you and these are our kids.” She’s been married for three weeks to Arthur Miller and has no intention of ever marrying Colin. They hardly know each other. And even if she truly had feelings for the young man, what kind of declaration is that anyway ?
As they leave the castle, they come across a small group of people who came to see the star and applaud Marilyn. She grabs Colin’s elbow and discreetly asks “Shall I be her ?” This is really bold as she has yet to prove that there’s something beyond the façade. Of course, she wants Colin to believe that she’s opening herself to him, that he has access to a “real her.” The thing is, she’s remained exactly the same foolish idiot with him as she is with everybody. Colin hasn’t been exposed to unexpected depths.
Plus what are these people doing here ? How did they know she was there ? Colin and Marilyn walk through Colin’s school and again, Marilyn is given the opportunity to shine and show how popular she is.
What’s happening here is that Marilyn is out of ideas: She has attempted every single trick she knows to seduce Colin and it didn’t work. She failed and so she had people be informed by Roger that she was around in order to pressure Colin into trying something.
I personally observed it. A certain type of women who are very popular (and vain), instead of voicing their likings, tend to create situations where they know their popularity is going to shine as a way to suggest the man they’re attracted to that he should try something. This spares them the annoyance of taking the risk of being rejected and it also allows them to flirt without much effort instead of actually trying to be interesting.