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January 6, 2024

Behind the Scenes Photos of Marilyn Monroe in Costume Test for “As Young as You Feel” (1951)

On December 10, 1950, Marilyn Monroe began her second contractual relationship with Twentieth Century Fox. (Their initial association had lasted one year, beginning August 26, 1946.) As Young as You Feel, shot between December 15, 1950 and late January 1951, was Monroe’s first assignment under the new contract. It was during the production of this film that she met her future husband, Arthur Miller.

After working with Marilyn Monroe in this movie, the unimpressed Constance Bennett wisecracked, “Now there’s a broad with a future behind her!” The Bennett barb about Monroe was not a put down, but a clever and witty quip in reference to the famous her derriere.

As Young As You Feel is a modest budget early 1950s B&W comedy. While the creative people were experimenting with ‘film noir’ and ‘neo-realism,’ the studios were cranking out stuff like this for a traditional audience. This adaptation of a story by Paddy Chayefsky was made during the McCarthy years, so the social satire aspect could only be subtly subversive. The themes (balancing work and play, doing work that gives you personal satisfaction, and maintaining your integrity) give the film a worthwhile message and are not delivered in an overbearing manner.

This film is fairly entertaining but is most valuable as a cultural artifact. Because it was not a high budget production the cast is almost entirely older stars at the very end of their careers (like Monty Woolley and Constance Bennett) and young actors at the beginning (David Wayne, Jean Peters, and Marilyn Monroe). So there is a kind of torch passing at work. It is also hints at Monroe’s special screen presence which somehow allowed her to beat the Hollywood starlet system. She and Peters were the same age (both were born in 1926) and had both started too late in the movie business. By this film they had already lost all the youthful luster of their early 20s, yet Monroe was somehow able to transcend this and become a big star.

Arthur Miller said of Monroe: “She was rarely taken seriously as anything but a sex symbol. To have survived, she would have had to be either more cynical or even further from reality than she was. Instead, she was a poet on a street corner trying to recite to a crowd pulling at her clothes.”


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