Thursday, 3 September 2009

Forgotten Characters

There is a reason that some characters are forgotten. They steal into a film and spend hardly anytime there, sometimes they are not even particularly important to the film plot wise...but they make an impression. Yes, the do. And that's how it was with
Marilyn Monroe in All About Eve
as Miss Claudia Caswell
I've never been a big fan of Monroe. She is gorgeous...but her acting talent has always been a bit of a head scratcher as far as I'm concerned. One thing she had, though, that cannot be undervalued is personality. Miss Caswell rolls into the film late. It's almost half way through and Eve is throwing that legendary party for Bill Sampson. As Margo says this is going to be a bumpy night...and of course it is. From the first line Monroe good. Birdie passes with a luxurious sable coat in hand, and Claudia says to herself..."Now there's something a girl could make sacrifices for." This essentially sums up her character. Materialistic. But this film is not exactly one on social that's irrelevant. But it's the second line that gets me hooked. When Max, a film director, comes out and says "Did you sable or Gable?" She replies most nonchalantly, "Either one."
There is nothing particularly groundbreaking about the throwaway lines given to Miss Caswell, but it is Monroe's excessively glib delivery that make them so funny. Monroe's scenes are essentially all at this part and they're not many...but even this early in her career there is a certain resplendence about her. I'm not sure I'd call it talent...but you just can't help looking at her. What's so strange, in quite a few shots in this film she looks startingly much like Katherine Heigl. I suppose the reason we can't stop looking at her though is because she plays her scenes in the film as if she thinks this movie's about her. And why the hell not give it all you've got?
 With Davis, Baxter, Ritter, Holm there were enough women to be impressed with. And her character is basically there to set up Eve's rise as we learn later when she chokes in a somewhat fateful audition.If you've forgotten Miss Caswell in All About Eve, you're forgiven. And her character only saunters through the film for a small time. And , as she says so nicely. "That's how you met me. In passing."
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Ethan Hawke in Training Day


J.L said...

I also think Monroe is good in All About Eve

mB said...

Everytime I watch this film (it's in my Top 10 of all time) I am taken (as were probably audiences and producers alike) with Monroe's effortless "star-turn" - like you say, she does little but her presence does the heavy lifting and that's something in it of itself to wonder at.