The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes

Chilling doc wants to solve Marilyn Monroe’s death.

Marilyn Monroe was one of the greatest movie actresses, who never succumbed to the needs of men, and wanted to be treated like an actress. In spite of her hit movies like “Some Like It Hot” and “The Seven Year Itch,” she suffered from drug abuse, particularly sleeping pills, which would eventually lead to her death. No note by her person, just a bottle of sleeping pills. This made the papers. Was it a suicide, an accident or a murder? It could have something to do with her involvement with the Kennedys, just as JFK was president and RFK was the attorney general.

That’s the set-up for the made-for-Netflix documentary “The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes,” which wants to solve the true mystery behind her death, while looking back at her movie career and the famous people she crossed paths with. The opening explains that the recordings of Marilyn Monroe are real, and the actors are lip-syncing those words. Many of us know her story, but not much on the archival recordings. Hence the subtitle: “The Unheard Tapes.”

The real-life interviews included actor John Huston, psychiatrist Ralph Greenson’s family, her close friend and dress manufacturer Henry Rosenfeld, photographer Milton Green, private investigator Fred Otash, and director Billy Wilder.

The time is 1982. Anthony Summers is an investigative journalist, who trying to figure out the real cause of Monroe’s death. Marilyn refused to be treated like a piece of meat in movies, and wanted to be treated like and actress. In a male-dominated system, she was no pushover.

Among her spouses, she married baseball player Joe DiMaggio in 1954, which only lasted for 9 months, because of his abuse towards her. Then, comes playwright Arthur Miller, who became her third husband, and then, they divorced in 1961. And of course, since she was alive during the Cold War, the FBI accused her of being a communist since she married Miller, who was a communist.

So far, in 2022, I saw three entertaining docs about classic movie stars and their turmoils. “Lucy and Desi” focused on how Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz made it on television and deteriorated throughout their marriage, “We Need to Talk About Cosby” discussed about how Bill Cosby went from a TV icon to a hated man, and now, “The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes” wants us to be curious about her death, movies, and spouses. This actress dealt with fame, abuse, and drugs, like most celebrities, which is unimaginable. Parts of the story go on a bit, but still director Emma Cooper and journalist Anthony Summers both want to dig deep inside everything they can provide for us about her, and it’s often interesting and scary.

I’m glad the film talked about her classic movies, on the side. “Some Like It Hot” was the original “White Chicks” for those who haven’t seen this classic. I saw it, I laughed at it, and I loved “Some Like It Hot.” And who could forget her famous skirt-blowing scene in “The Seven Year Itch?”This doc has to mention about the hecklers and autograph hounds. It’s those people who threaten to destroy a celebrity’s ego, and it’s a hard life. Monroe was no exception.

Rating: 3 out of 4.

Streaming on Netflix This Wednesday

Categories: Documentary

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