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July 22, 2023

Behind the Scenes Photos of Marilyn Monroe in Hair and Costume Tests for ‘River of No Return’ (1954)

Marilyn Monroe starred in only one western throughout her lengthy, prolific career: a much-forgotten and overlooked film called River of No Return (1954). Though The Misfits, Monroe’s final film, has touches of the Western genre, it better serves as a deconstruction of the genre and can’t really be considered.

River of No Return, on the other hand, plays all the notes a Western film in the 1950s would be expected to: there’s heroism, danger, gunplay, thrills, and scenery of a beautiful American landscape. Helmed by the great Otto Preminger, the film places Monroe on a top-billing along with Robert Mitchum and centers on a white-knuckle ride on a river raft.

It’s Monroe, though, that truly deserves the top billing in River of No Return. It’s her that makes this picture as memorable as it is. Even if the character isn’t particularly well-written, considering that her motivations often feel aimless while good-natured, Monroe breathes life into the role. She walks around with her Rapunzelesque blonde hair and her blue jeans, and she croons her lines with a breathy vulnerability that pulls you in. She sings a short setlist of musical numbers (for which Monroe did her own singing), guitar in hand, and reminds us time and time again that her gargantuan level of fame is very much deserved. When she’s not singing, she’s extracting sympathy through her fluttering eyelashes and wounded vulnerability or giving zingy little punchlines that show her knack for comedic timing.

When asked by Mark how old she is, Kay retorts, “that’s no question to ask a lady... not that I’m a lady.” Here is an actress near the pinnacle of her fame, exuding an effortless charisma that only a capital “M” Movie Star could. It’s less so about how good the role is and more about who is playing it. And when that who happens to be Marilyn Monroe, well, you’ll surely be paying attention.

1 comment:

  1. Marilyn will always be the ultimate blonde goddess & her legacy as well as her legs will live on forever.




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