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My Week With Marilyn Paperback – 27 Oct 2011
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‘My favourite book of the year’ Joan Collins
‘This book is sheer delight…wonderfully funny…by the end of this short but richly packed chronicle, Colin Clark seems like an old friend…he is blessed with a sharp eye and an even sharper pen’ Sunday Telegraph
‘The marvellous traumas and stampings of feet of the stars are recorded through the eyes of a star struck youngster whose bedside prose is so sharp and polished’ The Times
‘The immediacy and charm of Clark’s recollections are possibly more illuminating than the millions of words and pictures pumped out to expose or dish the dirt on the Monroe legend’ Helen Osborne, Sunday Times
‘Delightful: so observant and pleasing, and such enjoyable asides’ Alan Clark (letter to Colin Clark)
‘Beguiling, touching and compassionate’ Melanie McGrath, Evening Standard
‘An extraordinary story’ Frank Johnson, Spectator
‘It’s the funniest account of life in the booby-hatch that’s a film studio known to me…It’s not that I await [his next] diaries eagerly, but I’m planning to sneak into Clark’s house and read them right this minute’ Spectator
‘Revealing, moving and deliciously funny’ Daily Telegraph
From the Back Cover
"The immediacy and charm of Clark's recollections are possibly more illuminating than the millions of words and pictures pumped out to expose or dish the dirt on the Monroe legend"
HELEN OSBORNE, 'Sunday Telegraph'
In this delightfully comic and touchingly romantic book Colin Clark describes – for the first time – what happened between Marilyn Monroe and himself during the 'missing' week from his celebrated diary for 1956, published in 1995 as 'The Prince, the Showgirl and Me'.
In 1956, fresh from Eton and Oxford, the twenty-three-year-old Colin Clark was employed as a humble 'gofer' on the set of 'The Prince and the Showgirl', the film that was intended to unite the talents of Sir Laurence Olivier, England's pre-eminent classical actor, and Marilyn Monroe, Hollywood's greatest star. From the outset the production was bedevilled by problems, and the clashes between Monroe and Olivier, who was both directing and co-starring, have entered film legend.
Nearly forty years later, Colin Clark's wonderfully entertaining diary of that time was chosen of the book of the year by Jilly Cooper, Joan Collins and many others. But – one week was missing from the middle of the book. Here is the story of that week: a delicious idyll in which Clark came to know an unhappy Monroe desperate to escape from the pressures of working with Olivier and an often hostile cast and crew, from the crowd of hangers-on who continually surrounded her, and from the burden of her stardom itself. How he unexpectedly ended up sharing a bed is a story readers will have to discover themselves.
"An engaging slice of memoir"
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Top customer reviews
Well, yes and no.
If you're a movie fan who likes to read about how famous films were made, then you'll probably enjoy the first part, The Prince, The Showgirl and Me, which is the diary that Colin Clark kept while he worked on The Prince and The Showgirl [DVD] . There's not a lot left to say about Marilyn, of course, but this first-hand, day by day account of her notorious encounter with Olivier, and how it all went wrong, is new, funny and fascinating. And it's not just backstage gossip, he also talks about how the film was put together and financed, and the jobs that everyone did behind the scenes, so you learn a lot too.
However, you might find that the real Colin Clark isn't quite the sweet and awkward young man you saw and liked in the film. He can be pushy, snobby and sexist, and he milks his upper class charm and connections for all they're worth - although, in his defence, it was a different world in the fifties, and he was very young.
But there's no excuse for the second part of the book, My Week With Marilyn, written two years before Clark's death in 2002. He himself calls it a fairy tale or a miracle, but one that was real ... I'm still not sure what that's supposed to mean.
Have you ever re-lived a scene in your head over the years, and wished that you could re-write it with all the things you should have said and done? Because that's what seems to be happening here. Clark just goes through the whole thing again, but with the benefits of hindsight and a more modern outlook: Marilyn confides her innermost secrets, he tells her where she's going wrong. I found it very hard to believe in places, and critics have pointed out how inaccurate he is about the details of her miscarriage, for instance. And that dialogue ('I love you like the wind, or the waves ... You're a beautiful force of nature, Marilyn') doesn't exactly help.
The book includes a letter he wrote to a friend at the time, re-telling the story yet again and milking it absolutely dry. There's also a couple of contributions from the makers of the new film, which are mildly interesting.
So it's the sort of book that's been cobbled together to cash in on a film release, and it's a bit of a mess. But four stars for the diary and the photographs (it's fascinating to compare those taken at the time with stills from the new film). Only one star for the other parts, but I'll average it out with a generous three.
Nevertheless, a great insight in to film making and the personalities who were involved in the film The Prince and the a Showgirl.
What I did not expect, and therefore found interesting, was what I learned about the 1950s. Nowadays it is a decade much referred to, but often in terms of austerity and restraint. Being a personal diary there were various intimate details and it felt odd to be reading stuff like that recorded so frankly.
It was also a glimpse of the kind of things that were common enough behind closed doors, but don't represent the modern idea of the 1950s. Not only sexual stuff, though there was some of that, but also swearing, drug taking, and the commonness of marital infidelity. It was also interesting to see the culture clash between the American movie-makers and the British film industry, which had strong links to the theatre (especially this production which was based on a play and involved any stage actors). The world of film is obviously apart from everyday life and not anywhere near as glamorous as the industry would have us believe, then or now.
The differences in tone between the two parts was very striking. I suppose the first was meant as a behind-the-scenes view of the filming, whereas the second is very much a personal account. It does make you wonder how much editing Colin did before publication. The events of the second book were concealed in the first, dates were changed and Colin displays no difference in tone or sympathy towards Munroe despite the changes that must have taken place.