Skip Navigation Links
Catholic News
Special Reports
Google Plus
RSS Feeds
ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

My Week With Marilyn

Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.

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.)

Search reviews at

Thank you for your comments. Editors will review all posts before they are visible on the website.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Columban: Columban was the greatest of the Irish missionaries who worked on the European continent. As a young man who was greatly tormented by temptations of the flesh, he sought the advice of a religious woman who had lived a hermit’s life for years. He saw in her answer a call to leave the world. He went first to a monk on an island in Lough Erne, then to the great monastic seat of learning at Bangor. 
<p>After many years of seclusion and prayer, he traveled to Gaul (modern-day France) with 12 companion missionaries. They won wide respect for the rigor of their discipline, their preaching, and their commitment to charity and religious life in a time characterized by clerical laxity and civil strife. Columban established several monasteries in Europe which became centers of religion and culture. </p><p>Like all saints, he met opposition. Ultimately he had to appeal to the pope against complaints of Frankish bishops, for vindication of his orthodoxy and approval of Irish customs. He reproved the king for his licentious life, insisting that he marry. Since this threatened the power of the queen mother, Columban was deported to Ireland. His ship ran aground in a storm, and he continued his work in Europe, ultimately arriving in Italy, where he found favor with the king of the Lombards. In his last years he established the famous monastery of Bobbio, where he died. His writings include a treatise on penance and against Arianism, sermons, poetry and his monastic rule.</p> American Catholic Blog Jesus was never a careerist or a glory-monger; he did not demand to be hailed as a king or lauded as a hero. He came to live among us, to suffer with us, and to serve us from the heart. He came to teach us how to love.

Walk Softly and Carry a Great Bag

Thanksgiving Day (U.S.)
Thanks be to God for our families, our homes, our lives. Happy Thanksgiving from Catholic Greetings and

May this birthday mark the beginning of new and exciting adventures!

St. Andrew Dung-Lac
Our common faith is our greatest treasure. Join Vietnamese Catholics around the world in honoring this 19th-century martyr.

With Thursday’s menu planned and groceries purchased, now is the time to send an e-card to far-away friends.

Christ the King
Our liturgical year ends as it begins, focusing on Our Lord’s eternal reign.

Come find us at: Facebook | St. Anthony Messenger magazine Twitter | American Catholic YouTube | American Catholic

An Site from the Franciscans and Franciscan Media Copyright © 1996 - 2015