'Blonde' Ambition on Netflix: Myths of Marilyn Monroe Exploited

Ana de Armas is Marilyn Monroe in "Blonde" on Netflix.

The portrait of Marilyn Monroe by Andrew Dominik in Blonde on Netflix isn't very pretty, no matter how beautiful she was.

Ana de Armas portrays the actress who took Hollywood by storm in the '50s. The nearly three-hour saga depicts Monroe as an early MeToo victim, a pharmaceutical drug abuser and alcoholic, and mostly a women with "daddy Issues," since she never knew hers and was abused by her mother.

"Director Dominik proves to be overly voyeuristic with his sexy subject."

She calls hubbies Joe DiMaggio (Bobby Cannavale) and Arthur Miller (Adrien Brody) "daddy" and has a particularly nasty encounter with JFK (Caspar Phillipson). After her second miscarriage (she also had a forced abortion), Monroe turns to drugs and alcohol - she liked to mix the sleeping pill Nembutal with champagne. Monroe overdosed on barbiturates on Aug. 4, 1962. She was just 36.

De Armas fits snugly into the role when she's wearing clothes. Director Dominik proves to be overly voyeuristic with his sexy subject.

Not surprisingly, there's no marijuana use in Blonde (not even any hash), which is based on Joyce Carol Oates' novel about Monroe.

In 2016, Dr. Howard Markel wrote at PBS:

"The majority of the substances Marilyn was abusing were prescribed to her by physicians, all of whom should have known better than to leave a mentally ill patient with such a large stash of deadly medications. The barbiturates that killed her are rarely, if ever prescribed, today. Nevertheless, Monroe, like Judy Garland, Michael Jackson, Prince and too many other famous Hollywood stars who overdosed, was adept at manipulating her doctors to prescribe the drugs she craved and felt she needed to get through her tortured days and nights. This treacherous course worked, albeit haphazardly, until it didn’t work anymore and resulted in a talented young woman dying far too young."


Robert Mitchum with Monroe in "River of No Return"


1. Some Like it Hot (1959) - Sugar (Monroe) and an entire women's jazz band are fooled by two male musicians (Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis) masquerading in ladies' outfits in Billy Wilder's cross-dressing classic. Monroe plays ukelel and sings.

2. The Seven Year Itch (1955) - Richard (Tom Ewell) has the "seven yeasr itch" for his upstairs neighbor played by Monroe with Wilder at the helm. She famously walks over a subway grating, causing air to blow up her skirt, towards the end of the film.

3. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) - Monroe teams up with Jane Russell in this musical comedy by Howard Hawks based on the 1949 play. In Blonde, Monroe complains when she learns Russell's earning 10 times as much as her.

4. River of No Return (1954) - This Western swashbuckler by Otto Preminger features Monroe and Robert Mitchum, a powerhouse movie pair if there ever was one. Monroe sings and does a great job riding the rapids.

5. The Misfits (1961) - Written by Miller and directed by John Huston, Monroe's last film teamed her with Clark Gable and Montgoemry Clift in a Western setting. 


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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of CelebStoner.com, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.