To finish off this weeks Marilyn M. expedition, let’s view this very short but very interesting clip of film from the abortive ‘Somethings Got To Give’ shoot. It’s a brief moment just after the shot’s been slated but before Cukor has said ‘action’ (or ‘camera’ as was his habit) in which he says something to Marilyn and she responds with a most charming and unusual (for her) side-of-her-mouth riposte. But what is it that’s actually being said? Cukor was known for talking to his actors while the camera was rolling, sometimes to their irritation but often as a way to keep things light, quick and punchy rather than solemn and frozen. There are many opinions in the comments section as to what they’re saying but it seems pretty much to boil down to:

CUKOR: Looks like she’s scared of something.

MONROE: Scared of the humor.

Are the director and actress having a quick and insightful exchange about the scene? You’ll note that the shot is a closeup and is part of the infamous almost-nude nighttime swimming pool scene in which Marilyn–supposedly a maid who is in fact Dean Martin’s long thought to be vanished wife–puts on an elaborate, exhibitionistic act to make him as uncomfortable as possible (his wife Cyd Charisse is asleep in bed nearby). Perhaps Cukor wants her to emphasize in this closeup the fact that, while she’s pretending to simply be swimming au natural like the Euro’s tend to do, she privately knows that this is a devilish way both to make her husband nervous as well as to reignite his passion for her. Or are they saying:

CUKOR: Looks like she’s scared of me.

MONROE: Scared of you mister?

In which case the above explanation is all nonsense and its just a way for the two of them to tease each other, perhaps after some kind of mini on-set spat. Presumably the on-set sound mixer (whose voice can be heard slating the shot ‘605’) was the only one capable of hearing them with that much clarity…and he didn’t care, busy as he was with his stupid slate. Just another unsolved Marilyn mystery, this one of much more interest to me than the ones having to do with that family of Irish politicians.


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