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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Documenting a Mystery
by Betty Jo Tucker

I love a mystery! So my expectations were high about The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes. Granted, it was exciting to see some beautiful clips of Monroe in all her glory. But listening to tapes of people who knew her speaking on phones or other recording devices did not work out well. Many of those scenes include actors lip syncing real people, but that seemed too stagey for me.

However, director Emma Cooper made sure the ups and downs of Monroe’s career, marriages and mental health problems received coverage in this uneven documentary. Fortunately, we get glimpses of wonderful films where Monroe displays her talents as an actress and entertainer. I enjoyed watching the clips of Some Like It Hot, The Seven Year Itch, and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. But I felt sad seeing how different she looked in her last movie, The Misfits.

It was also hard to take reliving the downfall of her marriages to baseball great Joe DiMaggio and the famous playwright Arthur Miller. Also, the way this documentary presents Monroe’s last few days made me tear up again. What WAS her relationship to the Kennedy brothers, Bobby and JFK? Did they have her killed as scandal sheets suspected?  

Marilyn Monroe died too soon.

The heights she reached? Over the moon!

A film icon with fans galore,

she always wanted even more.

Abandonment she feared mostly  

 and turned to drugs so frequently.

 

Was Monroe’s death a suicide?

New documentary has tried

to find the truth about this mess.

But too many tapes; should be less.

    Most the info we’ve heard before.

about this star many adore.

Most of the tape information came from Anthony Summers, a journalist who wrote a book about Marilyn Monroe called “Goddess.”  The official investigation into Monroe’s death declared it was the result of a barbiturate overdose, but Summers wanted to find out the truth. He rounded up as many tapes of interviews as possible and  conducted many of his own, which he taped, of course. About the night of Monroe’s death, various discrepancies were discovered.   

My conclusion? We will never know the truth. But we do know Marilyn Monroe, who died at only 36 years old, left an incredible movie legacy that will still live on for many years to come. 

  I am good but not an angel. I do sin, but I am not the devil. I am just a small girl in a big world trying to find someone to love.” --- Marilyn Monroe

(Released by Netflix and rated “TV-MA”)


                                                                                                                                                                               
 
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