Plot: What’s it about?
A genuine icon of cinema, Marilyn Monroe continues to be the gold standard for sex symbols in movies. In Forever Marilyn, seven of her most famous pictures, all presented in high definition with lossless DTS HD soundtracks. Five of the films are even new to Blu-ray, so Marilyn fans can finally see the other five in vivid HD. Whether you are a devoted fan or sitting down to watch her work for the first time, Forever Marilyn is an ideal release. You’ll see in a nice range of roles, joined by some of the most talented cast & crew members from the period. This is simply an excellent collection of some of Monroe’s finest work and is worth a spot in any film fan’s collection.
In Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Marilyn conjures up the immortal visual of herself in pink, surrounded by men in tuxedos. This film is very well made and thanks to Howard Hawks’ excellent direction, all the elements seem to come together in bright, shining form, especially the two leading ladies. Marilyn gives her usual charming performance and Jane Russell is good also, the two make for a powerful on screen duo, to be sure. The light, comic setting works well indeed, as the movie is loads of fun to watch. How to Marry a Millionaire has Monroe teamed with fellow screen sirens Lauren Bacall and Betty Grable, as models in Manhattan on the prowl for the men of their dreams. I love Monroe’s performance here, as she shows off her comedic timing and plays off her costars so well, just a magical turn. River of No Return lets Marilyn test her dramatic abilities, as she stars opposite Robert Mitchum in this tale of wilderness adventure. While the visuals (both Marilyn and the landscapes) are beautiful and a pleasure to watch, the film falls short of what it could have been. Even so, Monroe in a western is a novel sight and this being director Otto Preminger’s sole western adds some historic value.
Next up is There’s No Business Like Show Business, which features Marilyn as a showgirl with high aspirations. If you want to see Marilyn Monroe at her most glamorous, then this is the movie you’ll want to check out, as she is radiant here. She always looks gorgeous of course, but this movie, she is always dolled to the nines and simply shines on screen. The Seven Year Itch is another iconic turn for Monroe, with her dress blown up as she stands over a grate. But this film has much more to offer than that one sequence, such as Marilyn’s incredible screen presence and the excellent direction of Billy Wilder. Marilyn is of course, irresistible as ever and really shines here. Next is the classic Some Like It Hot, in which she is joined by Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. This is a true classic and again lets Marilyn show off her comedic talents. Lemmon and Curtis tend to steal the show however, with hilarious performances that helped make this a beloved movie.
The final film in Forever Marilyn also happens to be her final completed picture, The Misfits. The film is inconsistent, but flashes moments of brilliance. Marilyn’s costars include Clark Gable and Montgomery Clift, so there is ample star power. Monroe shines here, in a performance that showed some terrific dramatic depth. The film teeters on the brink of melodrama at most times, but doesn’t slip over that line too often. So we have seven of Marilyn’s most famous movies, all packed with immense talent on both sides of the camera, then given stunning technical presentations in this collection. So if you are even a casual film buff, Forever Marilyn deserves a place in your collection.
Video: How does it look?
The seven films are presented in various aspect ratios, but all are shown as intended. These movies have never looked this good home video, without question. While some look better than others of course, all seven have been given top notch visual treatments from top to bottom. If you own the DVD releases, then you can go ahead and retire those, as these HD versions put them to shame. As these are older movies, the visuals might not pop like a newer release would, but they look terrific and offer great improvements over pre-HD home video incarnations. And since Marilyn deserves to look her best, fans are bound to be thrilled with the visual presentations offered here.
Audio: How does it sound?
All seven films have been given lossless DTS HD soundtracks, some mono and others 5.1 surround. I found all the soundtracks to be clean and free from age related concerns, which is great news. The films are not audio dynamite per se, so the audio is more subtle and basic. Even so, the movies sound good in these new soundtracks and the surround mixes provide depth via the films’ musical elements. Each film also sports a wealth of language and subtitle options. The Seven Year Itch also includes an isolated score option, which is nice to have.
Supplements: What are the extras?
While most of the films’ supplements are limited to theatrical trailers, The Seven Year Itch sports a nice selection of extras to peruse. You’ll find audio comments from a biographer of Billy Wilder, a handful of behind the scenes and retrospective pieces, a timeline of Monroe’s career, still photos, some deleted scenes, and the film’s theatrical trailers