Which historical period would you choose to live in if you had the chance? My answer has always been standard — I’d pick the late 1950s and early 1960s. A swirl of high-rises in the international style, pop art, tulip chairs and martini-fuelled cocktail parties (yes, I have watched too much Mad Men) is my idea of sexy. And the fashion, well, it’s positively thrilling. Cinched waists, pencil skirts, two-tone court shoes, red lips and pearls — they’re all neatly arranged in my imaginary wardrobe. They’re also all ready to make a turn in a vision that involves Cary Grant, a couple of highballs and a smoky Manhattan bar.
Yes, this is a celluloid-spawned fantasy. I may have been charmed by the glamorous, booming post-war world projected in books and movies, but I know that the reality, which encompassed apartheid, the civil-rights movement and the freezing fallout of the Cold War, was anything but alluring. Now, thanks to a new documentary, my dreamy delusions about the era have been punctured further. And I’ve got to say, it’s the men who did it.
The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes might sound like an intriguing Hardy Boys caper but, truthfully, there is nothing particularly curious about the tale this Netflix show weaves. Rather, over an hour and 40 minutes, viewers are treated to a deluge of film footage, archival interviews and hypotheses about the short and depressing life of the iconic actress. Cut through images of the sultry blonde performing and dodging adoring fans are glimpses of Marilyn Monroe’s destructive relationships. She was sexually abused as a child, her second husband, baseball god Joe DiMaggio, allegedly physically abused her, and her third husband, playwright Arthur Miller, put the emotional screws on the star big time.