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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

My Week With Marilyn

By
Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
Source: AmericanCatholic.org

A few years ago I was at a lecture by film critic, academic and historian Richard A. Blake, SJ, at the University of Dayton. (In 2000 he published “Afterimage: The Indelible Catholic Imagination of Six American Film Makers”, a book every film student would do well to read. Blake also reviews films for “America” magazine.)

During the Q & A that followed his lecture about the great male film directors throughout history, I asked Fr. Blake if there was at least one female director that had made a significant contribution to the history of Hollywood. He thought for a moment and then said, “Well, if there is one woman who has done so it would be Marilyn Monroe.” He did not elaborate. All I could think of is that if Marilyn were alive today, she and Blake would be about the same age. Tragically, Marilyn died of a suspected overdose in 1962. I was ten years old and I remember her death well, though I was much more impressed and saddened by the death of my hero Superman, i.e., George Reeves in 1959. Maybe it’s an age thing.

I ran into the same adulation for Monroe when I took a History of Film course at the University of London while studying for my master’s degree. The instructor seemed besotted by Marilyn Monroe, and frankly none of us students, co-ed from twelve countries, between the ages of 23 and 63) could understand it.

But if Oscar-nominated actress Michelle Williams’ performance as Marilyn Monroe is to be believed, then perhaps Richard Blake’s opinion, as well as that of my instructor, has some substance in terms of the unattainable dream that Marilyn represented and filmmakers created.

“My Week with Marilyn” is based on a true story as told in two books by Colin Clark, the third assistant to director/actor Sir Laurence Olivier in the making of the 1956 film “The Prince and the Showgirl.” Marilyn would have been 30 years old at the time, on her third marriage, and Colin, 24, a young, likeable, single filmmaker wannabe. Colin was kind to her and they spent some free time together (one skinny dipping scene) and a comforting non-sexual night. Marilyn lacked confidence and was joined at the hip to an acting coach as well as assistants who gave her pills for everything.

Michelle Williams’ performance was spot on, but so was that of Judy Dench as the mother of the prince, though she seemed to have most of the dialogue throughout the film.

This film, directed by Simon Curtis, seemed to really be about capturing the aura and pathos of the life of two gifted and beautiful actresses: Marilyn and Michelle. I think Michelle has already learned enough lessons from the film business to last a lifetime. (Michelle Williams has a daughter with Heath Ledger, who died in 2008 of an accidental overdose.)




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Pierre Toussaint: 
		<p>Born in modern-day Haiti and brought to New York City as a slave, Pierre died a free man, a renowned hairdresser and one of New York City’s most well-known Catholics. <br /><br />Pierre Bérard, a plantation owner, made Toussaint a house slave and allowed his grandmother to teach her grandson how to read and write. In his early 20s, Pierre, his younger sister, his aunt and two other house slaves accompanied their master’s son to New York City because of political unrest at home. Apprenticed to a local hairdresser, Pierre learned the trade quickly and eventually worked very successfully in the homes of rich women in New York City. <br /><br />When his master died, Pierre was determined to support his master’s widow, himself and the other house slaves. He was freed shortly before the widow’s death in 1807. </p>
		<p>Four years later he married Marie Rose Juliette, whose freedom he had purchased. They later adopted Euphémie, his orphaned niece. Both preceded him in death. He attended daily Mass at St. Peter’s Church on Barclay Street, the same parish that St. Elizabeth Seton attended. <br /><br />Pierre donated to various charities, generously assisting blacks and whites in need. He and his wife opened their home to orphans and educated them. The couple also nursed abandoned people who were suffering from yellow fever. Urged to retire and enjoy the wealth he had accumulated, Pierre responded, “I have enough for myself, but if I stop working I have not enough for others.” <br /><br />He was originally buried outside St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, where he was once refused entrance because of his race. His sanctity and the popular devotion to him caused his body to be moved to St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue. <br /><br />Pierre Toussaint was declared Venerable in 1996.</p>
American Catholic Blog We have a responsibility to balance the scales, to show love where there is hate, to provide food where there is hunger, and to protect what is vulnerable. If life has treated you well, then justice demands that you help balance the scales.

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