"How Long Does It Take?": The Resurrection of Marilyn Monroe andSomething's Got to Give(1962)

Ana Salzberg
2015 Quarterly Review of Film and Video  
Amidst the raw footage and few completed sequences that remain of Something's Got to Give (George Cukor, 1962), Marilyn Monroe's final, unfinished film, is a scene between the actress and co-star Dean Martin. Here, Ellen Arden/Monroe -believed dead after five years shipwrecked on a South Sea Island -scolds her husband, Nick/Martin, for not telling his new bride that his first wife has, in fact, just returned to her family. Facing Nick/Martin with wet hair and in the blue robe associated with
more » ... now-legendary nude swimming sequence, Ellen/Monroe exclaims, "How long does it take a man to tell a woman that his wife's back?...I just did it in two seconds -you've had two days!" This sense of vexed temporality -"How long does it take?" -was one that characterized both the narrative and making of Something's Got to Give. An early sequence, for example, depicts Nick and his second wife, Bianca (played by Cyd Charisse), waiting for a judge to finally declare Ellen dead so that they may be wed; but following this (inadvertently bigamous) union, Ellen returns home to her children, who do not remember her. Nick's delay in revealing Ellen's survival leaves Bianca unaware of her present limbo, and she consults an analyst over her husband's continued refusal to consummate their marriage. On an extra-diegetic level, biographies and documentaries profiling Monroe offer an equally troubled chronology for the production itself: These accounts set forth the number of days the star was absent from the set and so delayed filming, as well as at what point in the difficult process Twentieth-Century Fox
doi:10.1080/10509208.2015.999219 fatcat:ue4w52qewzgs7eakgyqarm647i