WEIRDLAND: Sexually broken people: Silver Linings Playbook, Marilyn Monroe (Don't Bother to Knock)

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Sexually broken people: Silver Linings Playbook, Marilyn Monroe (Don't Bother to Knock)

Silver Linings Playbook (SLP) is a story about human sexuality, and more specifically, how we come to understand our sexuality through experience. Amazingly, this idea of experience at the heart of SLP is also at the heart of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body (TOB). Primarily, this story is about two sexually broken people. For Pat, this comes in the form of infidelity, a broken marriage and perversion. In Tiffany’s case, lack of sexual desire and her husband’s death while trying to spark something meaningful contributes to a frustration which manifests itself sexually.

In both cases, what the characters think is love is radically transformed by the end of the film. Pat drives one of Tiffany’s flings off of her porch. In disgust, Pat tells the guy that girls like Tiffany need to be protected, cared for, and respected. This episode is a turning point. First, Pat is acknowledging Tiffany’s personhood and her need for respect. Second, Pat shows a deeper understanding of Tiffany’s needs, as well as taking on the role of a protecting figure. It also displays an embracing of his masculinity in light of Tiffany’s femininity, pointing to the fact that “it is only through the duality of the ‘masculine’ and the ‘feminine’ that the ‘human’ finds full realization”. Third, Pat shows that his views on human sexuality and its utility have changed.

Eventually, Pat professes his love for Tiffany. The next scene is at Tiffany’s house where the camera pans onto Tiffany’s lone pair of shoes. This scene, which you may well have missed if you blinked, is Pat and Tiffany’s experience fully realized. Like other films, one would expect Tiffany’s shoes to be accompanied by Pat’s, signifying that they slept together. But no; they realize that their sexual brokenness cannot be fixed by sexual promiscuity, but can only be properly understood and healed by giving themselves first in friendship as their commitment to each other grows. In pursuing a chaste relationship based on self-gift, both Pat and Tiffany learn how to love authentically. Source:

With her cute pixie cut and her chic girl about town outfit, Jennifer Lawrence sure knows how to rock Hollywood glamour. As she stepped out of the Greenwich Hotel in New York on March 21, the actress wore her short blonde locks in loose Marilyn-Monroe like waves. Jennifer appeared poised in a black and white sweater, sophisticated black A-line mini skirt, and simple black pumps. Source:

Marilyn Monroe built an impressive library of works on psychology and physiology, keeping copies of Mabel Elsworth Todd’s The Thinking Body, as well as an edition of Freud’s letters on her bedside table. When she remained focused, she created an extraordinary range of performances: from the introvert in Bus Stop to the extrovert in The Prince and the Showgirl. Watch just those two films, and you will see why she is a great actress. Each performance is a de novo creation built through a vocabulary of gesture and movement that is inimitable. In her major roles, Marilyn Monroe did not repeat herself.

Zanuck had insisted Monroe take a screen test for Don’t Bother To Knock to confirm her suitability for the role of Nell Forbes, a young woman recently released from a mental institution. Traumatized by her fiancĂ©’s wartime death in a plane crash, Nell has a grasp on reality that is tenuous at best, as she shifts deliriously between past and present, confusing an airline pilot she meets in a hotel room with her dead lover. Monroe found preparing for the test an ordeal, although her work with Lytess secured Zanuck’s approval. Barbara Leaming reports that Zanuck thought Monroe’s own instability heightened her performance of a mentally disturbed character. She had told stories about how she had thrown herself on Johnny Hyde’s coffin in a hysterical scene that suggested she could not come to terms with his death. Other rumors alleged that she had exhausted Hyde with her needs and was “sexually dangerous and not a little mad.” It seems improbable that a shrewd businessman like Zanuck would put a production at risk because his leading actress shared some of her character’s mental defects.

But Don’t Bother to Knock emerged out of a postwar period during which certain psychiatrists promulgated the idea that women deprived of the conventional support of husbands and families were prone to deviant behavior. Without a “healthy, happy home,” the postwar family was in crisis, argued William Menninger in Psychiatry in a Troubled World: Yesterday’s War and Today’s Challenge (1948). In Modern Women: The Lost Sex (1947), Ferdinand Lundberg, a sociologist, and Marynia Farnham, a psychoanalyst, characterized women without strong male protectors as “neurotic and maladjusted.” -"Marilyn Monroe: A Life of the Actress" (Revised and Updated, 2014) by Carl Rollyson

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