Norma Jean & Marilyn (1996)

Early on in this unsubtle biopic, Eddie Jordan (on whose book the film is partially based) informs Norma Jean that she’s like two different people. It sets up the central conceit of having two actresses portray the film icon; Ashely Judd plays the part of Norma Jean before Mira Sorvino assumes the role of Marilyn Monroe. While the initial transition between the two roles is cleverly realised, Norma Jean’s constant reappearance to berate Monroe adds to the film’s uneven tone.

 

After beginning with one of its many questionable fantasy sequences, this biopic quickly demonstrates that Norma Jean will sleep with anyone if it helps her become a movie actress. Yet by starting off at such a cracking pace, the filmmakers needlessly flashback to her childhood to touch base with Monroe’s all-too familiar troubles. Fast forward again to an unsuccessful screen test, and soon Norma Jean is transformed into Marilyn Monroe, courtesy of a skilled plastic surgeon.

 

Unfortunately, the good doctor seems to have performed a personality bypass as well. The firecracker that was Ashley Judd’s determined Norma Jean gets defused on the operating table, replaced by Sorvino's pouting, put-upon Marilyn Monroe. So intent are the filmmakers to cast Monroe as a talentless bimbo that Sorvino struggles to portray a bad actress without seeming one herself. 

 

To add insult to injury, it seems Eddie Jordan knew Monroe about as well as Robert Slatzer.

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Marilyn Monroe did not die clothed in an ambulance. As Elton John told us, she was found in the nude in her bed.

 

Monroe’s stage name was taken from her mother’s maiden name, not US President James Monroe.

 

Biopic is partially based on the book "Norma Jean: My Secret Life with Marilyn Monroe" by Ted Jordan, who many Monroe acquaintances state never knew the actress. Not helping Jordan’s cause was his claim (in an earlier edition of the book) to have slept with Mexican actress Lupe Velez in 1946. Though it was apparently an attempt to make Monroe jealous, it most likely would have turned her stomach since Velez had been dead for two years.

Scene recreations of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (02:02) and Some Like it Hot (07:46) are included in the clip below. Biopic also features Monroe fluffing her lines or otherwise causing delays in fleeting recreations from All About Eve, The Seven Year Itch and The Misfits.

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