Rating: 3 out of 5
It’s been much too long since I’ve last blogged, but after coming down with a cold, my latest review was delayed. Although my particular volume consisted of both My Week with Marilyn and The Prince, The Showgirl, and Me, I’ve chosen to read and review only the former, since it was the main basis for the film adaptation starring Michelle Williams (the review of which you can read here).
The memoir was written by Colin Clark, who in 1956 worked with Marilyn Monroe as an assistant director on the set of “The Prince and the Showgirl.” Clark became a renowned writer and filmmaker later in life, but during this time, he was merely a gofer for anyone else on set.
That’s not to say you should pity Clark. The man came from a very privileged, educated family, who treated celebrities like the Oliviers like a part of their own. So his lowly yes-man outlook is hard to believe, especially when Monroe starts to take a fancy to him.
Many are skeptical of their brief relationship, since Clark only wrote about it as a postscript to his memoir when people noticed that nine days were missing from his records. Given the fact that Monroe was married to playwright Arthur Miller at the time, Clark asserts that he never actually consorted in a sexual affair, but getting to kiss the most famous actress while she’s topless in the river is certainly not innocent behavior.
Neither is Monroe’s infamous downward spiral. While she struggled with abandonment issues, low self-esteem, and an addiction to prescription drugs, Clark experienced first-hand just how difficult falling in love with her can be. The juxtaposition between the Hollywood glamour that Monroe projected on the outside and the emotional trauma she suffered on the inside is easily the most intriguing aspect of this story.
However, I felt that the movie took Clark’s diary entries and gave them the entertainment value they were lacking. It followed his recollections closely, except his last thoughts after her death. The film ended with Clark reminiscing fondly on Monroe, slightly heartbroken but still soaking in her glory. The book, on the other hand, revealed an older, wiser man who was so frustrated and weary of her antics that he felt relieved when he escaped a phone call with her a year before she died.
I think what I enjoyed most about My Week with Marilyn is what Clark didn’t have to write down. Monroe never let anyone in, because she was too afraid of them leaving her forever. This lack of trust contributed to her destructive behavior, which ended up pushing everyone around her away–thus, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Obviously, memoirs aren’t for everybody, and if you aren’t the slightest bit intrigued about Marilyn Monroe or her costars, you might as well pass on this book. It’s not the most exciting rendezvous, but for getting to spend even a week with such a legend, Clark will also go down in history.